Get a Good Deal on Tires
Did you know you can haggle when you're buying tires? That's right — you should never have to pay full price. After deciding what brand you want, go to a dealer and put your haggling skills to the test. Make sure you do some online research first, since you'll often find a better deal online than you could get in person. Getting prepared before making a purchase is the best way to ensure you're getting a great deal.
- Decide which brand of tire you want. A specific brand dealer will be able to get you a much better price on the brand his store is owned by, because he gets them direct from the factory. When you try to get a brand different from the one the dealer has, he buys them from a tire wholesaler, and then marks them up 20% to 30%. Many companies have stopped selling direct to dealers and department stores, instead marketing their tires through a larger wholesaler and controlling the price level by having dealers join an alliance program.
- Big-box stores such as Sears and Walmart, and warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam's Club, often have low but probably non-negotiable prices on tires.
- Do your homework. Know which tire you want when you walk in. They will be pushing their top-of-the-line tire at the moment because the salespeople get more commission per tire on those.
- Also have a second and even a third choice as a backup to your first choice. You may be able to get a better tire for a lesser price today
- Try not to accept the first offer. Tires are marked up, and most salespeople will work out the quote with the suggested retail price. This can be anywhere from $5 to $50 over store cost per tire. Make sure the quote includes installation and balance.
- Be polite. A common sentiment among salespeople is that "Discounts vary upon customer attitude."
- Get quotes from other dealers before stepping into the store. The best way to do this is call and ask for prices on the tires that you have decided to purchase. They will try to sell you another brand that they claim is a better deal (which is sometimes true). Getting quotes from multiple dealers will help you determine when dealers are being honest and when they are simply out for more money.
- Always consider buying from an online tire store. You may find a better deal than any brick and mortar store, even after you add shipping charges. This is especially true for less popular brands of tires and/or high-performance tires.
- Online stores will often ship the tires directly to a mechanic of your choice, who will perform the actual installation.
- Online stores such as Tire Rack will often provide numerous reviews of different kinds of tires and ratings of various aspects of their performance such as ride, wet and dry traction, fuel consumption, and longevity.
- TireRack.com will also give you prices for local tire installers (go to the installation section).
- Remember that installation and balancing is an additional cost.
- Any warranty claims are with the online retailer and not the installer.
- Check comparisons on reputable websites like "safercar.gov"
- Consider carefully the lifespan of tires. Bear in mind that a tire that lasts twice as long will cost half as much to buy and half as much to have mounted, have the old tire disposed, etc.
- Try to find a family-operated store where you can talk to the owners. You will find out that often, they care more about their business than those pushy salesmen.
- Regularly rotate your tires. It does affect the life of your tires. Also, if you don't, and they wear out very quickly, the sales people won't be able to give you a little money back for the tires that wore out. Most places give "Balance and Rotate" free for returning customers.
- If you get a cheaper price from a department store, don't be afraid to ask a tire dealer if they can match or beat it. You will be better off buying from a tire dealer than a discount store. If you have a problem with your new tires, you will find that the tire dealers are better at fixing a problem than a department store (in terms of employee training and availability).
- Try to go in when business is slow. They'll be more likely to cut you a deal if they haven't sold much that day. The middle of the week is best and weekends the worst.
- Alignments are not generally included in the quote, but if you get four tires, ask the salesperson to give you a deal.
- Road hazard plans are not necessarily a scam. Many people have to buy new tires due to punctures or damage that would have been covered by the road hazard plan. Remember that road hazard plans are prorated on most plans and will only cover part of a tire depending on the age and how much tread was left on it when it was damaged.
- If considering an off-brand tire, literally stand it up and compare it next to the name-brand tire. Off-brand tires, even though they are marked as the same size, are smaller in diameter and height. They also may not have as much usable tread.
- Always consider replacing your tires with the original type. Many times the car manufacturers study extensively which tire will be the best for ride, handling, mileage, etc. The tire a manufacturer chooses is for all around use though and your use may be biased toward more highway or more city driving.
- Most tire stores will not sell or install a tire that is not equal to the factory size, weight limit rating or speed rating. Keep this in mind if you plan on using different rims and tires. You may have to go to a speciality store to get them installed.
- The most important thing in tire safety and longevity is air pressure. Check this at least once a month.
- Under/over inflation will also cause irregular wear, which will void any mileage warranty. Tires that fail due to under inflation may also be excluded from any road hazard protection plan you might have purchased.
- An under inflated tire runs hotter and will wear faster and unevenly. Tires are also more likely to fail if they run too hot for an extended period.
- Proper air pressure can be found on the vehicle placard on the inside of the driver door, in your glove box, or in your owner's manual.
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