How to buy tires/get tires installed without losing my mind/savings?

I’m trying to do some internet research for the type of tire I need/best prices and I’m getting all kinds of search returns, many seem to be the kind of places that don’t also install tires (, But honestly, I have no idea what kind of place I need to look for- I’m totally overwhelmed!

This seems like the type of situation where I could easily get ripped off due to my lack of knowledge. I could just go to my dealership, but this idea feels like it has $$$ written all over it.

Where do I start?:confused:

Are you driving?
A truck usually wants very different rubber than a roadster
First, what and how will largely dictate the tires.

Check Consumer Reports. They’ll have info on the best tires for your vehicle, and they’ll have a price range. Then go to your dealership and ask them to order and install the tires you’ve chosen.

The Tire Rack site can give you a list of shops in your area that will install tires you order from them, along with price quotes for installation, and possibly customer ratings or reviews of the shops.

Tire Rack seems like the simplest way, beside simply picking a local tire shop and seeing what they offer. It probably isn’t the absolute cheapest, but you won’t get ripped off.

You usually want to go with a regular all-season tire, unless you’re driving a truck or a sports car, or you live up North.

I love the system Tire rack has.

You can have the tires sent to a shop that’s convenient and its rated by other customers and usually the prices are on tire rack’s site. Also these installers don’t want to piss off Tire Rack.

I have several cars in two different places.
One tire installer is right across from my office and the guy just walks over and gets the keys, does the tires, brings the car back and gets his money. He does the office car.
The rest are only convenient on Saturdays and I found a shop that does almost nothing but Tire rack installations. On a Saturday morning there is a line of 10 or 12 cars to get into 4 bays. These guys have this down to an art form. They get all four tires done in about 10 minutes and have time to clean your wheels, check the brakes, etc. I have just enough time to walk next door to the 7-11 and get a Big Gulp. Both places charge about $8 per tire.

The tire rack site also has comments by buyers regarding different tires. I’ve found these to be helpful and I’m a car guy.

I started a thread last fall that you might want to review: About buying (snow) tires. I ended up just getting tires on steel rims (you might be able to get the rims used fo’ cheap); we have two sets, one “summer” and one “winter”, and I do the changing myself (cheap bastard that I am).

If you’re looking for some reviews of various products, I’ve found that Consumer Search is really worthwhile. Here’s the link for their page on tires.

Also, when looking at buying chains for our cars, I found the Vulcan Tire Sales site very helpful. I’d hazard a guess that their tire information is just as good.

I like to look at the rubber before I buy it. If this is of interest to you, I can’t recommend America’s Tire Stores enough. They don’t sell any auto repairs, they are fast, and the price is right.
they also fix flats for free (regardless of where you bought the tire) and will check and adjust your air pressure any time.
Two ATS stories:
My son had a lease car from Volvo (company lease) he got a flat. I sent him to ATS and told him to get it fixed. he called me and told me it was unfixable (puncture at the edge of the tread) I told him to order the exact tire that was already on the car. He came home and said that the car had a European only tread, and that the store could not match it. I commented that he needed to be careful as he was driving on the spare. He said, no, they pulled a brand new Dunlop off the shelf and told him it was a loaner! :eek: I ordered the correct tire though Volvo and got it mounted. I gave the Dunlop back to my son, told him to take it back, and pay anything they asked.
That night, I asked him what happened when he returned the tire.
“They said, hey look, we got one back!”
They did not charge him for the use of the tire. :cool:

Second story (from a newspaper article in the SFV Daily News)
It was December and raining. A single mother pulls into ATS with 2 kids and a flat tire. Asks to get it fixed. ATS guy looks at the tires on the car, and says that he can’t fix the flat, as it is bald with cords showing. The other three tires are also bald, and are dangerous to drive on.
Mother says she can’t afford to buy tires as Christmas is coming and she has to get stuff for the kids.
ATS guys says, OK, tells her to take the kids inside and get herself a cup of coffee.
About 20 minutes pass, and he calls her out to the car. The car has 4 new tires on it. She starts to explain that she has no money, and the manager tells her that he refuses to send her and her kids out in the rain on bald tires. He tells her to consider it a Christmas present. :cool::cool::cool:
This story restored my faith in people.

TireRack is great, but I live near a warehouse, so I pick them up and avoid shipping cost. I save big-time. But only on the “high-dollar” tires. I have 10 cars and buy cheap crap on the “high-milage, rough-use” vehicles and use TireRack for the “good” cars that need quality, high-performance tires. Those are what you save the big money on by using TireRack, in my experience.

If you just drive a “normal” car and don’t need anything special, often the local franchise (Big-O, TiresPlus, Schwab or whatever is in your neck o’the woods) will have a deal on thier brand tire, with installation that is cheaper or just as cheap and easier than messing around with TireRack.


My advice: Use TireRack (or other internet site) to price compare the name-brand tires. Call the local joints and see how competitive they are on the exact same tire. This gives you a sort of “base line”.

If you don’t need/value/afford name-brand (and they are not always better than franchise brand) check out what the local guys have and go for it.

In my experience, the more expensive the tire needed, the more you (or I) save by shopping on the internet (but remember, I don’t pay shipping, I can pick them up from the warehouse). For inexpensive utilitarian tires, the local guys are competitive. I live in the Pacific area where Les Schwab in the King of Cheap Tires and can cut an impressive deal.

So, what do you drive? How do you drive it? Where do you drive it (highway or city? Rain or snow?) What is your budget?

Hope I’ve helped.

Edit: One more thing, I’ve had nothing but positive experience with Kuhmo tires for both value and performance. I have them on 3 vechicles (ranging from crap to performance) and they have all done well for the money.

Yeah, these guys are good! Discount Tire is one of the few places where I’d rather take my business to a chain than an independent shop. I have similar stories to Rick’s:

I found the tire I wanted online, and went to the shop to order it. They didn’t have it in stock, so they offered me the next higher priced tire for the same price. I saved $100.

While I was there, they gave a man a tire in the same way they did Rick’s son.

I do have a question for Rick, though (or anybody else who shops at Discount). What do you think of their certificates? When I had a pickup, I always bought the free replacement certificates because I was always going off road. I used it once when I had a puncture in the sidewall. Their price has gone up recently, and I’m not off road in my Charger these days. Also, they prorate your tire if it blows while there’s still tread on it, so I’m not sure it’s a good deal for me anymore.

If you’re concerned about getting ripped off Walmart and Sams Club offer very good prices and reasonably priced service. Unless you’re going racing the national brands they carry should suffice for most scenarios.

::: Shrug:::
Certs? Beats me. Off the top of my head, on an expensive tire, it might make sense. On a cheap tire probably not.
Just for shits and giggles, I priced replacement tires for my car at Tire Rack and America’s Tire Store
TR Set of 4 = $448 +$42.00 shipping for a total of $490.
ATS Set of 4 = $484.00 no shipping.

I guess I didn’t look closely enough at I had visions of these tires being shipped to my house and sitting on my front porch! But if I can have them shipped to a tire place, that makes better sense. The only thing that’s hard to figure is exactly how much it’ll cost, on top of the 4 tires, to get them installed. I’m sure if I look a little closer, I’ll get that figured out.

As for what I need: I have Goodyear Eagle RS on my car right now (manufacturer provided), but on Tirerack, they’re $204 apiece! I was hoping to spend a little less… I drive an 05 Mazda 3 hatchback in Southern California. Other than a bi-yearly trip up to Big Bear, and usually not in the winter, I expect to rarely touch snow with them. The only thing I deal with are slippery roads when it rains (a year’s- or more- buildup makes wet roads slick here). I’m no speed-racer. I just want good, quality, long treadlife, low noise, smooth ride tires like every other red-blooded American!:smiley:

I was kind of hoping for something under $150/each. I saw some Dunlop Sport 7000 on tirerack for $135/ea, and I saw some other Goodyear Eagle RS that were originally $162/ea but are on “sale” for $99/ea (which makes me nervous- sounds awesome but why the big discount??) I’m not sure what the importance of the differences between the different varieties (and price points) of the Goodyear Eagle RS. That’s where I have a bit of a disconnect…service description/speed rating//load rating- might as well be in Russian! I just want a good tire…

I just put two new tires on my Corolla - one year after putting four new tires on my Corolla. I went to a tire shop (Blaskin and Lane) and got Bridgestone tires. They have an extended warranty for tires, and if I had paid the $12 per tire last year, I wouldn’t have been paying $284 today because of the screw I ran over (this frigging city is lousy with screws on the road). This is the second time in a year that I’ve had to repair a tire - this time it couldn’t be repaired.)

Get the warranty.

I’m going to bumpity this since it’s a new day, and streamline the “what, when, where, why, how”

• 05 Mazda 3 hatchback
• Southern California driving (no snow)
• I deal with slippery roads when it rains (rarely)
• I’m not a racer-type
• treadlife is important, followed by good ride/low noise
• I’d love to spend $150 or less/tire

What I’ve found (by trying to learn) is that I want 300+ treadwear, not much higher than 88 load index (or the rubber will be harder due to the load capacity, therefore less smooth ride?), A ratings on traction/temp. Am I figuring this stuff out right?

Hey Featherlou, I was wondering if we really needed winter tires here. I know all the benefits etc of using them in winter, but with the way the temperature jumps here I’ve been told that means they wear out faster. Do they? Should I get winter tires? Or am I fine with my all seasons in Calgary?

Yes, winter tires will definitely wear out faster. They have a softer rubber compound to get better traction. But you only use them 3-4 months a year so it’s not as big a deal. The easiest way is to have two sets of rims, and just swap those when winter comes along.

No, I know they wear out faster. What I was told though, because our temperatures can jump from -20 to +10 Celcius (or more) in the space of a few hours that they will wear out faster than the usual for winter tires. This is because they are designed to be optimal in below freezing temps and we don’t stay below freezing all winter.

I was told this means you get one winters use, maybe two out of them. I just wanted to hear if this is true or not from another Calgarian before I go spending money on tires or not…

I understand that winter tires are much better for winter than all seasons, but I’ve driven in winter conditions for about 25 years now using all seasons (in much worse winters than here) and had minimal problems (well, there was that time I ended up on someone’s lawn, but no tire will stick you to sheer ice :slight_smile: ). We’re driving in a city, too, where the roads will get sanded and the lanes worn down to asphalt again - the only time traction is really an issue is after a new snowfall.

For 98% of the people who use snowtires, temperatures fluctuate between -20 and +10 in the space of a day on a regular basis. I call bull on this idea. BTW, I pulled that 98% number from my nether regions, but those temperature ranges hold for the majority of the northeast and north central US.

This is exactly what I did, and I got my tires for exactly what I expected and they have proven to be very good tires.