Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Car Needs New Shoes

Q: I'd like to buy some new tires for my car and I prefer Michelin's, but there aren't too many shops around that seem to carry Michelin tires and they're very expensive. Can I buy tires from a supplier directly and then have them installed here? Will it save me much? Is it worth the bother? Will the tires come with a warranty? If I do this, they'd need to be mounted, balanced and then I'd need an alignment, right? What supplier would you recommend if I chose this option? -M

A: I do a lot of research online when I buy tires. I actually recently purchased a set of Michelin tires from Tire Rack. After plenty of research and price comparison, I found it was cheaper to buy the tires online, pay for shipping, then have them installed at a shop of my choice. I saved about $150 by purchasing online, paying shipping (but no sales tax, and choosing my installer. Tire Rack also has a good selection and plenty of customer reviews to help in your decisions. Many local stores and chains have websites for you to compare tire prices and order online as well so you can compare buying online to buying at a local store.

On the website you can look up registered installers in your area to compare installation prices and see customer reviews. If the shop is listed you can even have your tires shipped to them so they are ready for you when you show up. If a shop that you want to use is not on the list, you will need to ship the tires to your house and take them to the shop. All shops installation fees include mounting and balancing. Other costs will be old tire disposal, which is usually about $2 per tire, extra fees for vehicles with TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, required on all cars 2007 model year and newer), run flat tire serviced, and extra fees for low profile tires. Most shops will have options for life time balance, which is up to you.

Tire warranties are provided by the manufacturer. If you have a warranty claim, it is likely that you will need to submit it to the manufacturer for reimbursement. Workmanship for mounting and balancing is usually covered by the installer. Tire Rack does offer road hazard coverage as well. Similar to the warranty, this requires a form to be submitted for processing.

Alignment is usually done when suspension or sterring components are replaced. If this has been done recently you don't need to do it again. If its never been done, or it has been several years, its not a bad idea. This can help ensure your new tires wear evenly. Again, check around. The shop where you are getting the tires installed may not be the cheapest place for an alignment. Check with some local shops as their prices can be lower than some of the large chains.

The tires we bought for our Ford Explorer has been great, and we were glad to save some money. Hope this answers your questions!


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