Tips for Saving Money on Vehicle Tires

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Buying tires is no one's favorite reason to spend money. Investing a little time to find saving opportunities can save you hundreds.

Saving money on vehicle tires doesn’t mean buying the cheapest model. Because today’s tires last longer, over time you’ll save money buying better, higher quality tires. Unfortunately, tires are one of the most expensive vehicle maintenance items. But there are several ways to save hundreds of dollars on them.

Tires are one of your vehicle’s most critical systems, and they take a lot of abuse. Good tires are important to your car’s overall safety and driving comfort. Driving on bald tires will negatively impact braking and steering control. Here are a few tips to help you buy the best tires for your needs without breaking the bank.

Be Sure You’re Comparing Apples to Apples

When comparison shopping for tires, consider these seven factors. Make sure you’re combining all costs of all sets of tires you’re comparing. One set may look like a great deal, but actually isn’t once you add in all the upcharges.

The factors are:

  • Cost of the tires;
  • Sales tax;
  • Shipping;
  • Mounting and balancing;
  • New valve stems;
  • Disposal of old tires;
  • Relearning or resetting the tire pressure monitoring system, or rebuilding the monitoring system sensors.

Add Tires To Your Black Friday List

You’ll save money if you buy during Black Friday sales. Other seasonal sale periods include April (before the summer driving season) and October (before winter weather sets in).

Even if you don’t think you need tires during these sales, buying tires when you have to may force you to spend more than you should, or leave you with a brand or model you really don’t want.

Don’t Pay for Things You Don’t Need

Some tires cost more because they come with a “free” road hazard warranty. This is separate from the manufacturer’s warranty. It covers accidental damage, such as a glass puncture or pothole blowout. If you already have this coverage through an auto club or supplemental wheel and tire protection plan, this added coverage doesn’t benefit you and you shouldn’t pay for it.

Take Advantage of Coupons, Rebates, Codes and Price-Matching

Brick-and-mortar tire retailers, as well as those online, often offer coupons, coupon codes, mail-in rebates and buy-three-get-one-free deals. These promotions can save you money. But be sure to examine the details to ensure the deal is on the tires you want and there are no hidden fees.

Another money-saver: Taking advantage of a 30-day low-price guarantee. Many retailers will honor competitors lower advertised price on the same exact make and model tire for up to 30 days after your purchase. If that retailer charges less for some of the upcharges, such as tire mounting, balancing and disposal, you will come out ahead.

Never Underestimate the Power of Negotiation

While the big box retailers won’t budge on price, dedicated tire retailers can often work with you to lower the cost of your tires to a price you know is a good deal.

Money-Saving Tire-Buying Wisdom

  • Don’t waste money buying the wrong tires. Check the owner’s manual or the sticker on the driver’s door to find the correct tire size for your vehicle. Because many vehicle components are designed for a specific size tire, vehicle manufacturers strongly recommended replacing your car or truck’s tires with the same size tires that came from the factory.
  • Extending the life of your tires is the best way to save money. Buy an air pressure gauge and use it monthly to keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Inspect your tires for abnormal wear or damage. And getting your tires rotated and balanced and wheels aligned following your vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule greatly increases tire life.
  • Look for online tire retailers who will ship your tires directly to your mechanic or one of their approved independent installers, and who will mount and balance the tires at no extra charge. Many online tire retailers ship for free and offer low or no-cost road hazard warranties.

Bob Lacivita
Bob Lacivita is an award-winning ASE and General Motors auto technician, educator and freelance writer who has written about DYI car repairs and vehicle maintenance topics. His work has been featured in The Family Handyman, a Reader's Digest book and Classic Bike Rider magazine. He has been a career and technical educator for 25 years teaching automotive technology, as well as writing state, federal and organizational foundation grants. He also helped design a unique curriculum delivery model that integrates rigorous, relevant academic standards seamlessly into career and technical education.