Just like new-car sales, tire sales are heating up at this time of the year. If a safety check shows that you need new tires, now's the time to take advantage of manufacturer and retailer deals, which range from “buy three, get one free” to rebates.
These tips will help you save money on replacements.
Start by knowing which tires are on your vehicle. Check the tire placard (usually found on the driver’s door jamb of the car) for the recommended tire size. Additional information is often available in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. For optimum overall performance, replace your tires with ones of the same size and speed rating (identified by the letter in the tire size).
Look at multiple websites to compare prices. Make sure you account for add-ons, such as shipping fees or sales taxes. Keep in mind that tire prices vary by model, type, and size; expect to pay more for larger sizes. To determine your real cost, get an estimate of how much it would cost to ship and install tires at a local store. Major retailers spell out these details as you go through the shopping process.
Check the websites of the major chains in your area. You might find that they're offering their own incentives on top of the rebates and other offers from the manufacturers. If the prices aren't as good as you're finding online, call to ask whether they can get the tire you want while matching—or beating—the online retail price.
Show the online price to the retailer. You’ll want to find out the out-the-door price, including tire cost, mounting, balancing, wheel alignment, and any fee for disposal of your old tires.
Local shops might offer perks such as lifetime tire rotations or road-hazard warranty coverage. Those services could make the difference for many consumers. We like road-hazard warranties, especially if there's no charge for them. They provide extra protection should your tires get damaged before they wear out.
Many larger retailers provide road-hazard protection, including BJ’s, Costco, SimpleTire, Tirebuyer, and Tire Rack. But their terms vary.
Shopping convenience can sway how you buy tires. Regardless of where you buy them, they'll need to be installed locally.
We found an online retailer, a big-box store, and a local retailer would order the tires we wanted and arrange an appointment to have the tires installed. Beginning to end, we spent less than an hour working with each retailer.
Many of the highlighted promotions end in early summer, but new sales and good buys can found year-round if you do your homework.