Did I get screwed on new tires?

It’s an academic question at this point, because the deal is done, but here’s what happened. My boyfriend borrowed my car to take the dog to hang out with him at work, because my car isn’t full of delicate and non-slobber-on-able video equipment. As he’s pulling in front of his office, he hears a really loud squeal and a kathumpathumpathump. Unhappy sound. He gets out and looks and my front driver’s side tire is completely fucked - sidewall split, the whole thing just looks awful.

So I went down there and had it towed to Firestone because, hell, I didn’t feel like digging all the crap out of my trunk to get out my spare and I get three free towing miles from AAA. I was expecting to have to get a new tire for the flat one because of the sidewall cracks, but when we got there the tire lady showed me some cracks in the sidewalls of all the other tires and told me I really ought to replace them all. Well, I don’t know much about tires, I don’t look at mine like I ought to (and frankly it’s a lot easier to get a good look when they’re up on the tow truck) but the cracks didn’t look that bad to me. Of course, I’m not sure how long they were there.

I don’t think I’ve had to replace a tire until today on my car, which I’ve had since 2004 (or late 2003 - it’s an 04 model.) Pontiac Grand Prix, if it matters. So I suppose they could have just reached the end of their natural lifespan?

Anyway, there was a sale on, so it only cost $600 for all four. Is that highway robbery? I haven’t had to buy tires in years and years and years, so I really don’t know what they’re supposed to cost. That seems crazy high to me, but am I just out of touch or did I get upsold? (Were the cracks really a problem?)

$600 is about right for 4 tires installed. Depending on what trim level the Grand Prix is it could require low profile tires that cost a bit more. For comparison a new set of P225/60R16 for my 99 Olds Alero GLS (same tires as a '04 Grand Prix GT1 and GT2) are $130 a piece at Sam’s Club. Firestone is going to be markedly more since they charge close to dealer prices, but $600 isn’t dramatically over priced.

As to whether you needed new tires, I don’t know. The fact you had a apparently spontaneous side wall blow out tells me that something was dramatically wrong with the ones you had. Tires should certainly last longer than 4-5 years in a climate like South Carolina, and that you have sidewall cracks tells me that you were really careless about monitoring the air pressure. That indicates that you were running well under or over the recommended pressure and most likely bouncing back and forth between the two situations.

Side cracks aren’t necessarily a “replace urgently” thing but since you already had the car towed and in the shop going ahead and getting all 4 replaced was probably a reasonable choice. If money was tight you could have probably let it slide and just dealt with future blowouts as needed, but if you could afford it you are usually better having 4 tires of equal wear for handling and fuel economy. I’m curious what the tread was like on the tires. Were they worn down to the point of needing replacement or were they still good and only the sidewalls were an issue?

Since you have new tires, I strongly suggest you invest in a tire pressure gauge and keep it in your glove box. Check the pressure every other fueling and keep an eye on the pressure you are running. My Alero loses tire pressure irritatingly frequently, but I have sensors which keep me abreast of the issue. Did the mechanics check your rims? Did they look bent or deformed in any way? That can indicate a pothole strike and would contribute to a pressure issue and a blowout.

I have sensors and they’ve gone off before to tell me I was low - when they go off I check it and fix it. Didn’t go off this time. (I know I shouldn’t rely on the sensors and should check the pressure more often.) The rim looked bent to me but then I assume the “squealing” sound Aaron heard was the rim.

What size are the tires? Were they the original from 2004 when you bought the car? Can you post some pictures?

It seems high to me - I had a tire that I believe was slashed; it cost $55 to replace last week - but this is in the wilds of Queens, and who knows, maybe it fell off a truck.

However, I’ve owned three cars (Nissan Stanza, Mazda 626, Hyundai Accent) and never paid more than $80 per tire (usually the 40,000 mile model). However it is certainly possible that the tires your car requires simply cost more than that.

Also, when you say “installed” do you mean they balanced the tires and did an alignment as well as physically putting the tires on the car? That could add $100 to the tab.

Still, unless you are a consumer of high performance tires, I think you got took my friend.

New tires are just that expensive. According to WalMart.com, the very cheapest tires for your car would be $90 a piece and there are plenty of tires in the $120-$150 per range. These aren’t anything that special as far as tires go either. Try a used tire place next time. I’ve heard of people around here getting decent used tires for as low as $20 a piece.

The rims on these cars bend when you hit a pothole. I’ve replaced 2 of mine already. If the rim is dinged it was either from the impact that ruptured the tire or one recently beforehand that got it started. Tires don’t just blow out the sidewall when you are driving on smooth road at moderate speeds.

As a tire shop owner I am getting a kick out of these replies. You guys sound like this:

Guy #1: Hey I got a set of new tires for my GSXRSV V12 GTi Turbo for 2000$
Guy #2: Hahaha! LOLZ! Epic Fail! You got pwned big time. I got a set of tires for my Hazomitsu 1.1L for 100$

Tires are expensive. In other circumstances, you may have saved a few bucks, but it sounds about right to me.

As a tire shop owner you could have added some really valuable input.

Ha ha! The funniest part is …

Wait a minute. Nobody said anything even remotely close to that. What are you talking about?

Tirerack.com will let you know how ballpark your price was. If you were driving even the minimum average per year, 5 years may well have been starting to push it on your old ones. Do you remember how much tread was left? When they wear down to 1/16th inch on the groove, the distance from a penny edge to the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace.

The OE for a '04 GP I linked to runs around $100 per. If yours is a quality tire then 150 may not be extravagant. True performance tires can run way, way more than that.

True dat. My husband, the Tire Fanatic, spends a lot of money on tires for the Race Car That Never Actually Races. There’s a lot of science behind tires.

I have to disagree with this; sidewall cracking, even if just superficial, generally indicates that the sidewalls are flexing more than they should be and that the rubber is losing elasticity. (It may also indicate an excessive loss of volatiles which makes the rubber less compliant and prone to cracking, but one would not expect this to happen within five years.) While it is the air pressure in the tires that primarily supports the weight of the vehicle, the sidewalls are all that provides resistance to shear forces when turning or going around curves, and so their integrity is critical to vehicle safety.

lieu’s suggestion to check Tirerack.com is a good one; I buy all my tires there, and I’ve gotten good quality ultra high performance all season radials for about as much as you paid for your tires, plus they’ll drop-ship to their recommended installers. Pressure monitoring gauges are nice but I wouldn’t rely upon them; you should still check pressure by hand every other or every third time you buy gas, and make sure the tires inflated to the recommended pressure (usually found on the sill of the driver’s side door) and are within 1 psi of each other.


I don’t know, but I’ll bet it was uncomfortable.

C’mon, somebody had to say it!

Hello Again at post #5 said exactly that.

I have found that OEM tires usually give markedly poorer performance after the first 10-20k miles, so if you got 5+ years off the original tires, you did quite well.

If it makes you feel better, when I replaced the tires on my Mazda3 last year, the first place I went wanted to sell me 4 tires for $900 - and those were summer rated tires they were offering me in February in Cincinnati, so I probably would have slid off the road by March. I finally got Dunlops that actually can handle winter conditions a little, for $500.

I’ll give it a try tomorrow when I will have some more time :slight_smile:

What, that cheap basic tires for cheap basic cars should be cheap?

Seriously, dog? If you took me for a ricer, you really couldn’t be further off base. My preferred ride burns oats* and I couldn;'t give 2 shits about what rolls me down the road unless for some reason it isn;t working or is costing me inordinate money.

  • that’s the real “Hello Again”

First off, Dog80 is being an asshole. However, your post was essentially garbage. You quoted a price for tires on your econobox cars which have zero relevance to the OP and is exactly what he lampooned. That said, it’s beyond me why he bunched the entire thread into that category when my reply cited the precise tire for the most common trim levels of the OPs car.