How to find the best price on car tires

by Car Negotiation Coach

Just like buying a car, tires are negotiable. This is good, because tires are one of the more expensive (but important) parts of your car to maintain. 

penny test for tiresThe Penny Test is great way to check if your tires need to be replaced.

Take a penny, turn it upside down with Lincoln facing you, and put it in between your treads.  If you can see the hair on the top of Abe’s head, your tires need to be replaced.

Start by Searching for Tires Online

Before you negotiate, you'll want to find a few places that offer competitive prices on car tires.  Go online and get prices from websites like the Tire Rack

find car tires

It's not hard to figure out what size tire you will need.  You’ll be asked the make, model, and year of your car and the website will tell you what size tire fits your vehicle.  In addition you'll be able to choose between a couple different performance or quality levels. 

Once you determine the type of tire you want, make a note of the model and price so you can see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere.

Popular brands are easier to negotiate because more stores will carry them.

Find a Local Dealer

When you get prices online, check to see if they partner with any local installers or just google “tire dealers” (or Goodyear).  Just about everyone will install tires for you if you buy them elsewhere, but not everyone will allow you to ship tires directly to their store.  This is worth checking on, especially if you have a smaller car that may not be able to fit two or four tires inside or if you don't want the hassle of transporting your tires.

Remember the Extras

In addition to the cost of tires, you’ll usually be charged by the installer for these items:

  • Mounting/Balancing
  • Valve stem installation
  • Disposal of old tires
  • State fees and sales tax

This can run you an extra $50-$100.  Be sure to remember these items and the cost of shipping when comparing online prices to a local tire store.  Also, keep in mind the value of any tire warranties, rebates, or free rotations that come with the deal.

Negotiate the Best Tire Price

After you've identified a set of tires online, call your local tire shop.  Start by asking them if they will install a set of tires you are going to buy online (and if they will accept direct shipment).  This will usually prompt them to ask you what model tires you want and what price you're getting. 

Many times, the tire shop will come right out and offer you a better price.  But if they don't, go ahead and ask them if they can beat your price.  You'll be surprised that they are usually willing to make a deal.   And if they can't beat your price, consider calling one or two of their competitors. 

Do you have an expert money saving tip when buying tires?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Everyday Tips

I seem to always be buying new tires, but I also put about 27k miles on my car each year.

When you do the penny test, I assume it is in the deepest treads? For instance, my treads are not as deep on the outside part of the tire, but maybe I just drive like an idiot?

I go to Discount Tire, and they offer to ‘stipe’ the tires, which I think puts more little tiny grooves or something in the tires. Do you have any opinions on stiping?

Everyday Tips

Sorry, I meant ‘siping’

Car Negotiation Coach

Kris, 27k miles? that’s some crazy driving! what do you do? i didn’t have you pegged as a cross country trucker. Sales maybe?

As for the tread depth, I’d say you ought to consider new tires if the depth of any treads doesn’t pass the test, but if you want a second opinion, many tire stores (at least all the Good Years I’ve ever gone to) will give you an honest answer about replacement. I’ve been told by them on two separate occassions that I didn’t need to replace a couple of my tires. Gotta love honest mechanics!

Also, if you rotate your tires once in a while, you may notice more even tread wear.

Siping is interesting….haven’t tried it myself, but i’ve read varying opinions. It can help with traction considerably, but also may void your warranty or wear the tread down faster. Here’s an interesting link with more details on siping.

Everyday Tips

I have done siping, but I have no idea if I have been ‘taken for a ride’ or not. (What an awful pun. I am so tired today…)

You wanna know what I do for a living? I am a mom. Well, as of this week, I do work from home again part time, but all those miles were mom miles. Travel soccer, games, vacation, you name it. Isn’t that kinda pathetic that none of those miles were for work? Maybe I need a life?

I do rotate my tires every time I get an oil change – usually at 5,000 miles. I am at 61000 miles and have replaced my tires once. I am afraid I may need to again if I plan to get through a Michigan winter safely.

Thanks for the info!

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