Carefully examine any estimate on tires for extra charges and things you and your vehicle don’t need. I provide specific examples below.
Most automotive consumers will have several choices on where to take their business when it comes to replacing tires. Use this to your advantage and don’t go with the first or even the cheapest estimate.
It seems like the price of rubber is skyrocketing, making even average tires an expensive purchase. So you might as well do some research. All to often people go with the cheapest estimate. I personally think the brand of tire deserves some consideration.
This may be more important on performance vehicles then on economy cars, but it’s still important. If you’ve never heard of the brand name, go check it out. Often you can find reviews of off brand tires on automotive forums.
Go through several posts and see if people are happy with not only the performance, but the wear of the tire.
Some cheap tires don’t match what came on the vehicle originally. There are several specifications the D.O.T. (Department of Transportation) has mandated to be stamped on the sidewall.
In my opinion the most important would be the speed rating. Higher speed rated tires make the car handle differently then lower rated tires. As an example you don’t want to replace an H speed rated tire with a T speed rated one even though it can be considerably cheaper.
Review the exact replacement specifications found in the owner’s manual and on the driver’s side door jam on many vehicles.
Tires also have 3 ratings stamped on the side. These are based on temperature, traction and wear.
Temperature and traction are graded on an A, B and C scale and tread wear is assigned a number. Even though these do not need to exactly match the original, consider them when comparing the different estimates on tires.
Tire Installation Package Scams
I took my own advice when getting an estimate on tires. I got four local estimates and one online. Three out of the four local ones included all kinds of extras that made my stomach churn.
The lowest estimate had a brand tire I’ve never heard of and lot’s of things that did not apply to my automotive needs.
Example: The standard tire installation package included a lifetime tire rotating service. The tires on my vehicle are different sizes on the front axle as opposed to the rear axle. This means you can’t rotate them.
However, the estimate included a lifetime worth of rotates. Another thing included was a valve stem charge. Many modern vehicles have a tire pressure monitoring system and the stem is connected to a pressure sending unit that communicates with a module.
Long story short you do not replace the stem. Also included in the mounting package were a wheel alignment and road hazard warranty. Personally, I would rather gamble and not get a road hazard warranty.
If I pick up a nail I will pay for a patch at that time instead of getting an insurance policy in case it does happen. Another myth is that you need an alignment when replacing tires. Only do it if it’s really needed. You can see more about front end alignments here.
Additional Charges on Tire Estimate
All States have some kind of mandated tire disposal fee. In some it’s cheap and in others it’s more expensive, but you don’t have to pay this if you take the old tires home with you.
My low profile 17 inch tire makes for one awesome tire swing. The other tire I brought home was used in a backyard landscape project.
I half buried it into the ground and used it to support a nice mulch mound with a tree planted in the center. This may not be right for everyone and old tires can pile up and be a pain in the neck to get rid of.
Many States put the tire disposal fees to good use in the proper recycling of tires. It’s amazing what they can do with these old tires. They can be shredded and stained to make excellent extended life landscaping mulch.
Another extra that they added to all the estimates was a shop supply and waste disposal fee. This has become another big rip-off in the auto repair business. Each shop charged something different.
The highest one came to $27.30 In the fine print at the bottom of the estimate they explained that this fee represented profit to the auto repair facility for miscellaneous shop supplies.
This is one charge that you may be able to negotiate a reduction in or a complete elimination of if no shop supplies are used during the operation.
In any case before you go with a local estimate on tires do yourself a favor and compare it with one from an online retailer. I bought my tires online from a company called the tire rack.
I was able to stick with the U.S. made tire that came on my vehicle from the factory and save money at the same time. Although these cautions where meant for people buying tires they apply to any estimate you receive for needed car repairs.
Chain shops often print these out and ask for a signature for approval. Read every word before you sign and ask questions along the way. Be cautious of the word “Lifetime” this word is often used as a sales tool for services not required.
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Replacing tires is not the only car problem that can force you into a situation to be taken advantage of. See more stories about how to protect you from the auto repair business.
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