A friend asked me how to buy tires for her daughter - and I wrote this up
to email to her.
How does it look (do you have better ideas for a basic college kid's car)?
Here's what I just wrote up for her:
0. Write down the current tires on the vehicle & compare with what the
vehicle came with as stock.
1. Go to the Tirerack web site and list all available tires for that size
& load rating and type (e.g., mud and snow, all weather, etc.).
2. Order the cheapest tires with the best ratings for traction you can
find. Use temperature and treadewear ratings as tie breakers. Never ever
buy anything, least of all tires, based on the warranty - but if all else
is otherwise exactly equal, then use the (otherwise nearly useless)
warranty as your tie breaker only. And never buy based on manufacturer's
speed ratings - although, as always, feel free to use them as a tie
3. You can read the reviews - but they'll be nearly useless in the end
(but read them, by all means - there's no telling what you'll find out).
4. When ordering, choose the option to send them to the installer of
choice, and pick the CHEAPEST local installer by overall price (it should
cost roughly about $15 per tire for mounting & balancing but many have
additional fees so that's total price, including tire disposal fee, new
valve, balancing, and mounting).
5. You'll find the shipping is about $15 per tire, so basically the final
price will be the sales price plus $30 for shipping & balancing.
6. If you want, you can skip the ordering and just print the prices and
visit any local tire shop and ask if they'll match those prices. Make
sure you print the installation costs also to ensure they match both.
7. Depending on how your old tires wore, you may want to have the car
aligned when the new tires are put on.
You can expect tires to cost roughly around $100, plus $15 shipping, plus
$15 for installation, for a total of about $520 for a set of four.