For years, I have been buying tires from TireRack, opting to mount them and
static balance them myself at home.
This week, I called TireRack, to order a set of four passenger tires, where
I picked a traction A, temperature A, and treadwear 400 tire, with load
range 99 and speed W, where the price, shipped to my door, was $375 all
I had a friend over who suggested Simple Tire, so trying them just to
compare, I was shocked that the same set of four tires, same brand, size,
model, and everything, shipped to my door was just under three hundred
Tires are commodities, where, in general, commodities are already selling
for the lowest price, where volume makes huge differences, but we already
know TireRack has huge volume.
How can Simple Tire basically sell the same tire commodity for a whopping
twenty percent less, all things considered? Twenty percent is huge for a
Have you found that tire prices are dropping drastically?
Unless you're trolling, I don't understand how "I got suckered".
I know tires rather well, at least based on the numbers printed on the
sidewall. Probably as well as you do, where we both probably know tires
better than most people do.
Considering that all of us buy tires for a couple of cars just about once
every couple of years, at the very least, that's a LOT of tires we buy over
Figure, over fifty years of buying tires, at four tires per car for every
two years for two cars, that's about one hundred tires each of us buy in
I've been buying from TireRack for a very long time, and they were great.
Whom do you buy your tires from online?
It must depend on the particular tires: I just compared the price of
Michelin Premier A/S at TireRack.com and SimpleTire.com. TireRack.com
was cheaper including Road Hazard Protection and shipping than
SimpleTire.com with free shipping but without Road Hazard Protection.
What I love about Costo, for tires, is that they are the *cheapest* (by
far) for returning the old tires, where they're only one dollar plus sales
tax (which is a strange thing to pay a sales tax to *return* a tire for
They take *any* tire, so I've even cleaned up neighbor's back yards for
them, and hosed down the tires, and Costco took them at about $1.08 per
What I hate about Costco is that they only have a limited selection of
tires, where locally they only have Michelin & Bridgestone (and sometimes
What I love about Costco is that everything is included in the $15 mounting
price, which includes mounting and balancing and valves and nitrogen and
even free rotations every 6K miles and road hazard repairs (within the life
of the tread, prorated if not fixable).
What I hate about Costco is that you have to get there a day before you
were born just to get in line and wait along with the rest of the world in
front of you (especially during their specials, one of which is going on at
this very moment, which is the $70 coupon for a set of 4 tires).
Their prices are just ok.
As mentioned above, Costco is $15 per tire for mounting and balancing, and
$1 per tire for recycling - but Costo will NOT mount and balance someone
Mounting and balancing prices vary hugely, but on average where I live,
mounting and dynamic balancing is anywhere between about $18 and $28 bucks
- so I can figure on about $20 per tire.
If you don't ask the right questions, you can pay a lot for a non
road-force balancing, but in my experience, expensive balancing is rarely
needed (although there's nothing wrong with road force balancing). What's
wrong is paying road-force balancing prices for standard dynamic balancing!
Nonetheless, as I noted in the first post, I do my own mounting and I sort
of do my own balancing, in that I have all the basic Harbor Freight
a. Bead breaker (which is has to be modified slightly to actually work)
b. Mounting tool (which has to be bolted down or you'll go nuts)
c. Static balancer (the hard part is finding the right shape weights)
d. Air compressor, hoses, fittings, valves, valve tools, patch tools, etc.
Of course, all that equipment cost me about three hundred bucks, which at
twenty bucks a tire, took the first 15 tires just to break even, but I'm
past that stage now.
While I fix a flat at home (patching from the inside when I'm not on the
road - otherwise I plug from the outside when I'm on the road), I mostly
just rotate the tires, roughly on the changes of seasons.
While I'm fully familiar with rotation patterns for unidirectional tires, I
still swap sides, except in the winter, where it rains out here. In the
winter, I make sure the tires go back on unidirectionally.
I'm also familiar with match mounting where I match mount the wheels to the
tires, given whatever markings (usually red or yellow dots, and sometimes
both) the manufacturer provides on the tires (where I look it up each time
since the meaning is general, but still manufacturer specific).
Every once in a while I get a vibration after mounting. Not much, but a
vibration nonetheless. I take the wheels off and move them, one by one to
the front left (drivers side) where the steering wheel feels it the most
(although, in practice, the front right is about the same sensitivity).
In a really bad case, I'd remount them but I've never had to do that yet.
Just moving the wheels from front to rear generally pinpoints the vibrating
For example, when I move a vibrating wheel & tire assembly to the rear, the
vibration drops dramatically, so it's pretty easy to isolate which tires
are statically balanced but not dynamically balanced.
What I've found, in practice, is that out of balance wheels is actually
rather rare, if they're nicely statically balanced.
Once in about every dozen mounts (or so) they're out of balance dynamically
even though they're perfect statically. I have OEM alloy wheels which, I
think, helps with the balance since steel wheels, I'm told, vary much more
than do the alloy wheels.
Given that a typical tire shop probably changes hundreds of tires a day,
that means that dozens of tires in a day are out of balance for them, so it
makes sense for THEM to dynamically balance EVERY wheel, but for someone
who takes his time at home to statically balance on decent wheels, my
experience is that very few wheels actually need dynamic balancing.
To answer your question, in practice, I only pay for mounting and balancing
on every dozenth wheel assembly or so. So all I pay for are the tires,
since most of the time I get free shipping (saving, for example, what Tire
Rack charges, which is generally around $15 to $18 per tire just for
shipping by UPS ground, with each tire being about 25 pounds).
In the end, the total out-of-pocket cost for me is just the cost of the
tires and the buck each for 1-1/2-inch valves and the cost of the stick-on
weights (about fifty cents per wheel roughly).
Including all those costs, my latest set of ultra high performance (UHP)
tires cost $70 each, which nets me directional all-season tires with a
reasonably low profile and straight-line wet traction on asphalt greater
than 0.54g, straight-line wet traction on concrete greater than 0.38g.
The curb weight of my sedan is 3500 pounds, and the OEM tires were load
range 95 (6,084 pounds), while these new tires are 99 (6,836 pounds), which
is more than enough for a safety factor (at the standard max of 42psi).
The OEM tires were speed index H (130mph) wherease these new tires are
speed index V (149mph), which again indicates a better tire over the OEM.
The speed index is really a temperature index, where these tires are UTQG
rated at temperature A (over 115mph), which is as good as the UTQG gets.
Likewise, the UTQG for traction is AA which is as good as UTQG gets, and
the friction coefficient on my new tires is 0.89 based on a calculation off
the treadwear (u = 2.25/Treadwear**0.15).
That treadwear is 5 times that of the standard government uniroyal test
tire in the Texas tests by the manufacturer. The manufacturer is allowed to
underrate that number, but they're not allowed to overrate it, so, it's a
believable number, although it never directly correlates to miles because
the conditions in the real world differ greatly from the test conditions.
While someone said I was cheated by paying about $70 all included for each
tire, I think I got a pretty good deal, although I just looked and realized
I could have saved a few bucks had I ordered from a different online web
site (tires-easy.com) but I don't know what their shipping costs would have
The local tire shop matches TireCrack and SimpletonTire prices, labor is
extra but it's very reasonable.
They also take appointments so you don't have to wait in line for
hours. On the off-chance a problem shows up, they take care of that too.
Matching always made no sense to me, but maybe it makes sense to you since
a *lot* of people swoon over price matching.
Matching gets you absolutely nothing.
Worse, you may end up with less.
Rarely will you end up with more.
If you told me the local shop *beat* the price of TireCrack &
SimpletonTire, that would be something to swoon over.
But merely matching?
What good is merely matching?
What do you get out of a match?
OK. Now you're talking about "something" and not "nothing".
You're talking about "time".
Somehow, you "save time" by "price matching" at the local tire installer.
Saving "time" is ok, but I do my own mounting and balancing, so, saving
"time" isn't in my equation (since it costs me more time just to file this
thread than it does to mount a tire).
Is the only thing you save time?
If the shop merely matches your online price, then what are they giving
They're giving you nothing by way of price, and, worse, you may get less
So let's compare the two situations.
a. You have chosen, out of all the tires out there, a specific tire and a
price shipped to either your door, or to the door of the online installer
(if you don't install them yourself at home).
b. Let's say you chose the tire that I chose, which is this exact tire:
$66 final cost including shipping, tax, mounting, balancing, valve, &
recycling for Hancook Ventus V2 Concept2 H457 P225/55R16
c. Here are some rough prices on the net for that exact tire:
d. You print that out and go to your local tire shop.
e. Do they have that tire in stock?
f. Almost certainly not. Do they still price match? Dunno.
g. Let's assume they price matched, and they can "get" the tire.
h. Now you lost all that time you saved.
i. Two days later, the tire is in the shop, and you go down for your second
j. They mount and balance your tires and you pay them, plus you pay their
price for a new valve, and you pay their price for recycling, and they try
to upsell the heck out of you on road-hazard warrantees and free lifetime
alignments, all of which you resist successfully.
k. Then they tax you and you walk out the door satisfied.
But what did you gain?
That's a good question.
I'm not sure *why* you ask, since it's a decent assumption.
But if your point is that I have no idea what their volume is, you are
I simply *assumed* that all the big online tire retailers have 'huge'
Here is a Tire Industry Monthly article titled "Online Tire Retailing"
- Europe is 25-million tires a year (of 250 million tires per year) - Set to double by 2017 (the article was written in 2014) - So we can assume 50 million tires a year (or so) in Europe - Germany is 4.2-million online tires per year (in 2014).
The guy says the same logical things that I do, which is that most people
don't select the tire (he says 70% of the selection is done by the tire
dealer, and not by the consumer).
He also says most people are completely ignorant when it comes to buying
tires (and I agree with him). He also says nowadays, there is a wealth of
information about tires (I disagree with him, although there is a wealth of
information PRINTED ON THE SIDEWALL of the tires).
Closer to home, here is a north american fact sheet for sales of tires:
From 2010 to 2014 it seems the USA replacement (aka not OE) tire numbers
are about 200 million per year.
On page 52 of that document, we find the average profit margin on passenger
car replacement tires to be around 25%, which, interestingly, isn't in the
range of a typical commodity (which would be lower in most cases).
Page 54 sys there are 30K independent tire dealers in the US, and finally,
on the penultimate page, we get the percentage of retail-market share:
- 60% of tires sold in the USA go to the 30K independent tire dealers
- 13% are sold by "mass merchandisers"
Depends on the tire shop. My dealer will come close, but may not match.
What he does is give me good service year round no matter what the
problem is. If you never ever have a tire problem, price is a big
factor but when you cut a sidewall, bend a rim, damage a valve, my
local guy will fix you up on the spot and if your tire is not in stock
you will still leave with four tires and a spare.
Keeps money in the neighborhood too. If I'm spending $600+ on a set of
tires, another 20 or 30 bucks is not a deal killer for superior service.
I don't buy tires online. The local dealer is much cheaper and has free
mounting & balancing. Tire Rack is now a public TV sponsor so in my
*opinion* is another mark against it. Their "installers" are just above
You'd have to pick a tire and price that your "local dealer" charges, but I
highly suspect that it's not even close to true that your dealer is much
cheaper than online tires.
I can't prove that statement without information about your dealer and
prices, but one argument is that you'd have a hard time naming *anything*
that is cheaper at a brick-and-mortar store than it is online.
The only "additional" charges onlines are shipping, which I agree, for
tires, is appreciable though, at anywhere between zero (which is what I pay
for shipping) to about $18 to $20 for ground shipping per tire.
What is a "public tv sponsor"?
Agree with you on the fact the tire-rack "recommended installers" are just
one step ahead of criminal.
However, I'll wager your tire dealer is one of them perhaps?
My argument is simple.
If all you gain is a "price match", then you gained nothing.
Of course, there are things you "can" gain, like shipping costs, or down
time, or convenience, or keeping the shop in business, or making friends,
or free coffee, or whatever, but my point is that matching price gains you
absolutely nothing by way of price.
What you're saying is fair enough that, while price matching gains you
nothing, keeping your business "in the family" gains you "good service".
I have nothing against good service, but since I mount and balance my own
tires, I can't think of why I would need that good service?
But if good service is really what you were after, then "price matching"
isn't part of that equation, as making the local brick-and-mortar guy lower
his price to online rates isn't likely to make him want to give you better
service, is it?
We're all old men right?
Are we really all that afraid of a "tire problem"?
What's the absolute worst thing that can happen to a tire?
The worst thing is a non-repairable injury, right?
What's so bad about that?
All you do is put the spare tire on, and fire up a web browser, and order a
new tire shipped to your house or to the local tire installer.
Twenty bucks paid to the local installer, and your worst fears have been
repaired with a brand new tire.
Likewise, if you damage a valve, the worst thing is that you have to pay a
buck fifty or two bucks at the local auto parts store for a new valve,
which can be both removed and installed from the outside, if you know how.
Even if it has to be removed from the inside, what's the big deal?
It's a two-dollar tire valve after all (about twenty-five cents to fifty
cents online in bulk).
Now bending a rim is similar in that you pop on the spare wheel and then
you ship your rim out to be straightened, which happens a *lot* with my
soft alloy OEM rims, for example. It's one hundred bucks to have your rim
Even your local tire shop is gonna send out your rim to be straightened,
since he's not likely to have the equipment himself.
My argument is that it's just a wheel and a tire and a valve and some air,
and you already have a spare, so, you're not risking anything by not having
a shop that loves you to death.
Even if the local shop hated you, they'd still put mount a new tire and
valve and throw away the old tire for about twenty bucks, so you're not
even saving anything by having a guy love you to death.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see the risk here.
What you're saying is basic supply and demand economics. If you are flush
with money, then money isn't important to you. Nothing wrong with that as
it's the most basic of all economic theories.
To spend 600 dollars on four tires is astronomical.
What kind of car has replacement tires that are $150 each?
I'm not at all saying you can't find tires that *sell* for $150 each,
because they are all over the place. But if you take the OEM spec for your
tires, and if you can't find a tire that meets that OEM spec, and that
isn't a *lot* less than $150, then you didn't look all that hard.
And that's OK.
If money isn't important, then there's no difference to you between $400
and $600. That's normal for anyone flush with money by the way, so it's not
abnormal in the least.
However, you're NOT getting the best price:performance deal at 600 bucks
for a set of four tires. That's fine, if you're flush with money, simply
because money isn't important to anyone who has a lot of it.
I don't, so I buy the best price:performance I can get, and I mount and
balance my own wheels. I save money and get a better job that way.
But back to the point, if you're price matching to give your best friend
the business, then that's fine - but you gain nothing whatsoever on the
price by price matching.
I think I figured out how they can do it.
In researching how many tires TireRack sells in a year, I found that the
average online profit on a tire is about $25.
On a typical ultra high performance tire which is, say, $75, that means
that 1/3 the cost is pure profit online.
If they sell that UHP tire for $100 at a local brick-and-mortar tire shop,
then their advantage can be 1/2 the price (although they probably have
higher costs too).
Everything depends on the math, but I have to rethink my theory that tires
are a commodity, since commodities aren't sold generally for anything near
1/3 over cost.
It's basic economics for a manufacturer to have a marketing team turn a
commodity into a specialty item, and then they can command such prices.
So, I guess, for the most part, tires are a "specialty item" since selling
for 1/3 over cost is not how commodities sell.
When Costco has a good deal on tires, I order them at Costco.com,
specifying the warehouse where I want them installed. They email me to
let me know that the tires have arrived, and I call to make an
appointment for installation, and I do my other shopping while they
install the tires.
And from time to time they have had a 1 cent per tire installation
special -- available only if the tires are ordered at costco.com.
The key is to have the proper tools to mount and balance a set of tires. Most people don't nor do they care to wrestle 4 tires onto rims using makeshift spoons...and they're still left with balancing and disposing of the old tires.
Personally, I just have my friendly neighborhood Ford dealer do the whole job.
You need the following, which costs around $300 overall
1. Air compressor, hoses, fittings, chucks, pressure gauges
2. Bead breaker
3. Tire dismounting & mounting tool
4. Static bubble balancer
5. Clip on weights (steel wheels) or stick on weights
6. Assorted tire irons, valve core tools, patch tools
While it's true that most people don't want to mount and balance a tire,
they do spend far more than the tools cost to have someone else "wrestle 4
tires onto rims".
At 20 bucks a tire for mounting and balancing, and at 300 bucks for a
complete set of tools, that's about three years elapsed time for the tools
to pay for themselves in cost (assuming a two car family who changes tires
on each car every two years).
The tools pay for themselves in convenience the very first day, since you
can patchplug a repairable puncture in your own garage, which is mighty
convenient (ask me how I know).
Disposing of tires is trivial. You drive them to Costco, pay the buck per
tire, and they're gone. Or you drive them to any tire shop, pay whatever
their price is, and they're gone.
Balancing is mostly feared by people who have never once balanced their own
wheels. Balancing, to them, is 99% fear and 1% logic.
What's the absolute worst thing that's gonna happen if your tires are
imbalanced when brand new?
The people who are afraid of balancing, and those who swear that *every*
wheel needs to be "road force balanced" are the same people who have never
balanced a tire in their lives.
In other words, they don't know what they're talking about, where they can
only fear the unknown.
There's nothing wrong with being fearful, but guess what happens to those
tires six months, ten months, twelve months, two years into the driving
Are they still balanced?
If not - what happened to all that unbalanced fear?
While there's nothing wrong with being overly scared of tires, you seem to
be unduly scared, if the fact you go to a dealer for such things is any
indication of your state of mind.
Most people wouldn't go to the car dealer for mounting and balancing tires,
so you're probably highly unusual, in that the only reason most people go
to the dealer is to get parts that can't be gotten elsewhere without
Of course, if money is no object, and if fear is the main object, then the
dealer is the "safest" place to go. I understand that tires scare a lot of
But the next time you have someone else mount your tires, consider that the
guy who just got arrested for setting the fire that collapsed that Atlanta
interstate bridge is quoted in the Washington Post today as having stopped
off under the bridge with his two other buddies to smoke crack before he
went into to work at a tire shop.
"Eleby told investigators he regularly passes through the area on the way
to his job at a nearby tire shop".