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Which place sells cheapest tires?

Cheap TiresThe tires on my car have all worn out and it is about time to get them replaced. Where should I go to buy a new set? I decided to do some research to find out what place offers the best deals on tires.

To get a good picture I picked up a few popular brands and went online to get a price quote from several different places. Below are two tables with the result of my research.

The first table is for merchants selling tires only online. If you buy through them, you will have to pay for shipping but most likely you will save on sales tax.

The second table is for merchants who have a network of shops/stores where you can pick up your tires and so save on shipping costs. All these stores will charge you tax though.

My town charges tax at 7.25% rate which comes to around $20-35 on a set of 4 tires. This is less than what most online stores charge for shipping, which gives local merchants a slight advantage provided they offer comparable tire prices.

In addition the first table has a column for tire parameters. These are relative ratings of different qualities of the tire: load index, speed rating, threadwear grade etc. All listed tires are T, H or V speed rated which is more than enough for a family car. You can read about what these ratings mean here and here.

Online stores

TireRack TireSavings 1010Tires
BFGoodrich Traction T/A 94H 440 AA A $72 $70
BFGoodrich Traction T/A 94V 440 AA A $93
Bridgestone Potenza RE92 92T 160 A A $62 $79 $113
Continental ProContact 94H 400 AA A $70 $66
Dunlop SP Sport 4000 92H 340 A A $64
Falken ZE 512 ZIEX 94H 420 A A $50 $60
Falken ZE 512 ZIEX 94V 420 A A $65 $75
Goodyear Eagle GT-HR 92H 440 A A $65(*) $132
Goodyear Integrity 92T 460 A B $67
Goodyear Eagle LS 92T 360 A B $67(**) $88
Michelin HydroEdge 92T 800 A B $98 $88
Michelin Energy MXV4+ 94H 400 A A $114 $105
Yokohama AVID H4S 92H 500 AA A $69 $69 $132
Appx. shipping to IL (set of 4) $32 $57 $86

Local merchants

SamsClub Sears Walmart DiscountTire NTB
BFGoodrich Traction T/A (H) $76.82 $88 $83.94 $87 $90
BFGoodrich Traction T/A (V) $94.13 $102.54
Bridgestone Potenza RE92 $81.66 $92 $99
Continental ProContact $86 $89
Dunlop SP Sport 4000 $71 $78 $90
Falken ZE 512 ZIEX (H) $73 $75
Falken ZE 512 ZIEX (V) $86
Goodyear Eagle GT-HR $75.62 $80.74 $74.94 $72(*)
Goodyear Integrity $70.64 $71.44 $77 $80
Goodyear Eagle LS $94.33 $120.28 $87(**)
Michelin HydroEdge $107.86 $125 $119.16 $111 $112
Michelin Energy MXV4+ $109.74 $123 $133.58 $115 $114
Yokohama AVID H4S $84

All prices are quoted for 205/65R15 tire size. (*) — price includes $5 manufacturer mail in rebate. (**) — price includes $10 manufacturer mail in rebate

Other considerations

I looked up tires at Costco as well and Costco seem to carry just two brands from my list with prices approximately the same as Walmart’s. They however often run promotions in summer time offering cash back on certain brands which makes their pricing somewhat more attractive.

Costco has very low installation fee. They only charge $10 per tire plus $1 environmental fee. Other shops can be much more expensive, for example when I bought a set of 4 tires at DiscountTire last year they charged me $51.80 for installation and $18 in other fees.

Installing tires at Costco and DiscountTire means you get free lifetime flat repairs and rotations. I am not sure about other shops (can anyone comment?). DiscountTire also offers free lifetime balancing. From my experience, once you install tires you usually don’t need to balance them unless you damage the rim.

Conclusion

Among online retailers TireRack seems to be taking the lead with low shipping charges and competitive prices. TireSavings however is not that far behind. These two merchants combined offer the best deals on tires across both categories, online and off-line.

Picking the winner just among local retailers is a bit harder. The lowest price is less of a factor since most of these merchants will do a price match. If you buy and install from one of these shops, pay attention to what they charge for installation since this will likely be the deal breaker. Additional benefits (like life time rotations) can be a plus as well.




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