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.
The 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.
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:
- 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?