My dad and I recently bought car tires (best deals on car tires below) for the car we share. We shopped around before settling on purchasing brand spanking new tires. It was my first car-related purchase as a new driver, and it quickly made me realize how expensive cars are.
According to Modern Tire Dealer, a trade publication, the average price of a passenger tire in the U.S. keeps on going up because of the soaring cost of natural rubber and petroleum. Car tire prices increased 57% from 2006 to 2012. Yikes!
Below I compare the cost of new and used car tires to find the best deal.
In the chart below, I compare the price of the same Goodyear tires for a 2000 Toyota Camry at different stores.
From the chart, you’ll notice the cheapest car tires are used. My main concern with used tires is the safety — that’s why we opted to buy new car tires. If you do opt to go the cheapskate route, make sure you check the tires carefully. Look at the wear of the tire and make sure it’s evenly distributed and that there are not puncture marks. Make sure to ask for thread count (some cities have a minimum thread requirement). Do your homework so you don’t end up being sold recalled or worn out car tires.
To my surprise, Walmart sells the exact same tires at a higher price. With a good promo you could cut $25 to $45 off the cost, but it wouldn’t be as inexpensive as shopping a local car shop or auto parts store.
Note that new tires will need to be mounted to the rims, balanced and installed on your vehicle so you’ll most likely end up paying for this work if it’s not included in the price already.
According to an LA Times story, renting tires is becoming popular as many consider the upfront costs to be cheaper than buying. In reality, renting tires is NOT a good deal as you’ll end up paying more in the end. (Kind of like leasing a car.) The Times story indicates people can end up paying three times as much!
Time to Replace Tires?
- Tire sales happen throughout the year, but if you want the best deal, shop in April or October.
- Don’t forget to include warehouse stores in your price comparison, if you’re a member of one. I found the third cheapest price at Costco without a coupon! Now if you use a tire coupon that is mailed to members in their monthly coupon booklet, the price could go down further.
- Look for deals where you buy three tires and get the fourth free, or similar promos.
- Stick to tires that match the kind of driving that you will do, and avoid paying more than you need to.
Extend the Life of Your Tires
- Check the air pressure. Like Goldie Locks, you want to make sure your tires’ air pressure is not underinflated, overinflated, but just right! Here’s how to inflate your tires for free.
- Rotate your wheels. Here’s why tire rotation is important.
- Buy a full matching set. By replacing all four at once, you’ll be able to maintain your tires better.
Julie Hills says
One thing to check is what lifetime services the seller offers. Many will offer lifetime rotation and balancing, as well as pro-rated replacement if a tire fails before it’s stated warranty. I bought my tires at Costco, however, every time I’ve gone in to have the tires rotated the wait time has been at least two hours, which really doesn’t work for me, and I have to end up doing it myself or paying for it to be done. In that case, a local or national tire shop (who can perform the service in, say, a half-hour) may be a better deal in the long run even if the cost is slightly higher upfront.
Yazmin Cruz says
@Julie Good tip! I agree that you always have to weight costs vs. time. For us, a two hour wait is not that bad if we plan it right. We tend to drop off the car, grab lunch and then go shopping. The car is usually ready by the time we are done.
Bargain Babe says
@Julie and @Yazmin A two hour wait is very long but Yazmin is right, if you time it right, it’s not so bad at all. Thank goodness the Costco foodstand prices are so cheap! I once got a Lincoln Lunch (a $5 meal) at Costco: two dogs and a coke if I remember correctly. Oh, how I miss the days of hunting for a Lincoln Lunch in the Valley!
Julie Hills says
My problem is that our Costco in SoCal was not near anything else, and thus I had to shop for two hours with an infant. Cranky/tired baby + spending more money at Costco than I needed to = not a good bargain for Julie in the long run! But now our Costco is just a mile down the road and I could even walk home and back on days when I get the tires done. Yippee!
I also want to add that you should DO YOUR RESEARCH. Factory tires are great and all, but you do NOT need ridiculous speed ratings on your tires (do you really need a tire that can handle well at 145 mph?! No.) A speed rating of 112mph is JUST FINE. Sometimes you’ll discover there are even better tires out there than the ones that came factory stock on your car. (Also, if you are even driving at 112 mph then you might want to find a new day job as an F1 driver.) Go to a tire website and see what tires are recommended replacements for your car. There will be a multitude of options. Then, look up a few of those choices based on your needs (speed rating, weather), and take a little time (15-20 minutes) and read about the safety ratings and other driver’s recommendations on a few different websites. You may find out that a tire handles poorly in snow or rain, or that it’s loud when you drive. You do not have to buy the same tire that came with your car. Just 20 extra minutes can save you $200-$300 (or more, if you’re lucky).
My husband and I have saved a lot by buying tires online. We’re lucky enough that my husband has a *great* relationship with his car dealership and they installed his new tires for cost of labor ($8/tire, including recycling). We’ve purchased from Discount Tire Direct, which provides free shipping if you don’t live within 75 miles of a brick and mortar, and we’ve also purchased from TireBuyer, which also had free shipping. Both times we’ve also purchased roadside hazard and it was still cheaper than a brick and mortar. In June we bought him 4 brand new high performance tires, with installation and roadside hazard, for $400. On tope of that, the tires also had a $50 mail in rebate, and I also ordered them through Ebates, which netted an extra $30 because they were doubling the percentage at the time (awesome!!!). So, we actually spend $320 on brand new tires. I don’t think I’d ever been more excited spending $400 on tires in my life, haha.
Yazmin Cruz says
@Meredith Thanks for sharing your tip. You sound like such a savvy shopper — love it! I also dislike paying more for what I don’t need. Like you mentioned, a savvy shopper should ALWAYS do research before buying — it can save $$$.
Bargain Babe says
@Meredith Thanks for these great tips! I will save these websites for the day when we need new tires. Hopefully not anytime soon! I think most people don’t look for bargains for tires because it us a rare expense…you just get used to paying retail because it’s not like you tire shop every month!
Gregory Camden Z06 says
If you can you should buy new tires. It’s impossible to tell the health of a used tire just by looking at it. If a tire is getting close to a 2/32 depth tread then you must replace it.
In case you buy a used tire be sure to look at the date the tire was manufactured. It’s a 4 digit on the inside of the tire. For example 1012 means the tire was made on the tenth week of 2012. Obviously you want to look for this info when buying used tires.
As Meredith stated you must do your research. It’s very easy on line by using Google.
Quick pointer. On your tire when you see for example 235/45/17 that means that 235 is the width of the tire in mm. Next 45 is the percentage of sidewall to tire thread so it means that the sidewall is 45% of the width of the tire also measured in mm. 17 is the diameter of the wheel measured in inches.
Other characters on tires – for example 94 Q M+S means 94 is the load rating. You have to look up on a chart what 94 corresponds to in lbs then multiply by 4 since hopefully your car has four tires. 🙂 Q is the speed rating. It means you can do 100 mph safely. Down the alphabet and you can go faster meaning you can go faster on a R tire than a Q. M+S means the tire is rated for mud and snow.
Also you have the UTQG rating. This is subjective since each tire manufacturer rates its own tire so you can’t compare one number with another tire manufacturer’s number.
UTQG=Uniform tire quality grading. It helps if you’re comparing tires from the same manufacturer. You have the treadwear index, the higher the number the better. The traction, A being the best and temperature, A also being the best.
You might see a number also such as 360. It means that the tire is rated for 36,000 miles.
Finally you will see a maximum inflation number such as 44 psi. This means that the tire will burst after reaching this pressure. Obviously you NEVER want to get close to this number. Most cars have tires that you inflate around 30psi. The correct tire inflation for your car should be posted somewhere in your car. Probably inside the glove box or driver side door.
The best thing you can do for your tire is to keep them inflated at the correct pressure. They will last longer.
If you car is a 2008 or later model you have a Tire Monitoring Pressuring System. For more info on this system please go to: http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers/Tires/Tires+Rating/TPMS
Now next time you go to the tire shop they will know they’re dealing with a real pro. 🙂
Gregory Camden Z06 says
I just realized I wrote the wrong email address. The correct email address is email@example.com in case anyone has any follow up questions on tires
Great info here. One more item that is essential is getting your alignment done. I thought it was a scam each time it was mentioned at XXXX tire shop. They always had a card for a shop they worked with to do your alignment at a discounted rate. If you forgo alignment and it’s off, you chance uneven wear on the tires. This is bad for two reasons. 1. If your tires are under warranty, the warranty will not be validated if there is uneven wear. 2. Your tires will not last long as the focus of wear could be on the inner or outer “shoulder” of the tire and prematurely wear thru (this is what happened to my tires).
Olivia Nelson says
I never knew that the best times to buy tires is in April or October. I would imagine that if you are looking for new tires it would be best to buy them in these months. My car is in need of new tires so I should probably look for one right now.
Ronald Guzman says
Proper tire maintenance is the only way to reduce the tire aftercare expenses. I think one of the most crucial aftercare engagements for the automobiles is inspecting the tires at regular intervals. The tire maintenance assignment includes the following procedures.
1)Inspection of tire pressure
2)Identification and correction of tire issues
3)Tire rotation etc.
Make sure all these steps are carried out systematically and effectively that will extend the life-expectancy of the car tires and save your wallet. To schedule an appointment with a certified auto technician for the purpose of tire inspection and replacement, you can refer this page- https://www.reggiesmotorworks.com/appointments .