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tire crapola

I needed an oil change, and I also noticed a slow leak on the driver's side rear tire. I've been filling the tire every few days with a small air compressor I have that plugs into the cigarette lighter, so it hasn't been a big deal. I go to the place I normally go to, Tire Kingdom. In the last few times I've been there, it's been a good experience. But not today. I saw a new shop owner there. "Oh, crap.." I said to myself.

Here's the thing about shop owners when it comes to auto service centers. What makes or breaks a shop is who owns it, no question. If the owner is a responsible guy that cares about the customers, it will be a good experience. If on the other hand he's nothing but a slimy mechanic looking for any way to make a buck, well, you know what happens. Any time the shop owner changes for whatever place you go to, it's pretty much guaranteed you're going to get screwed.

I tell the guy to do the oil change, rotate the tires (which is free since I bought the rubber there) and fix the slow leak. He comes back and says there's a sidewall puncture and that a new tire will cost $100. I said no way, but I noticed they were having a buy-2-get-2-free sale on tires, so I asked how much that would be. $540. Yeah, do the math on that one. All the fees were in "premium installation services", which is nothing but b.s. to add cost. In the end I told him to put the leaky tire back on and just leave everything as is. Total I paid today: 21 dollars.

Tire Kingdom just lost my business because of that new shop owner who tried to upsell me everything under the sun. There was no way I was paying 500 bucks for something that's a buy-2-get-2-free. If it were a true buy-2-get-2-free, the cost should have been $275, as in $100 per tire, 2 free tires and $75 for install/disposal/etc. That's the way it should have worked.

Small note before continuing - any time you see a buy-3-get-1-free or buy-2-get-2-free, it's b.s. and the shop will recover the cost somewhere, so just avoid them. I thought that maybe this time around it was an honest sale. Nope. Same old b.s..

After I get home, I call Tuffy, a shop literally next door to Tire Kingdom. Standard price for a cheap set of tires, $539 - regular price. Oh, yes. I was both happy and sad about this. Happy that I confirmed Tire Kingdom was trying to screw me over something awful, sad that it was still over 500 bucks.

Well, I wasn't stopping there. I knew there had to be some way to shave off a good chunk of this cost.

Off to the Tire Rack web site I go to price out a set. The total cost + shipping for the 4 lowest-priced tires was $407, so that was the mark. If I could get anywhere near $407, that's the best possible deal because it goes no lower.

Now it was time to find a different shop. I look online for a different tire store and found Tires Plus. They actually allow you to quote the full price (without tax) of what you're going to pay BEFORE having to schedule anything. Very, very, very cool. I price out 4 tires and installation. The total comes back as $376. With tax included, which I added in myself, $403.

I call the shop after I made the appointment to confirm the price, they came back with $405, so they found a way to screw me out of 2 dollars, but that's acceptable because it's still $135 less than I would have paid at the other two shops - and that's pretty frickin' significant.

The price from Tire Rack was not only matched but beat, so I literally can't do any better.

If at this point you're thinking, "Geez.. $100 per tire is an awful lot..", you're right, but that's what you have to pay for a P235/75R15 tire that fits a light truck. If I had a regular car, like a basic Honda Civic for example, the price is $60 per tire. If you have a car with a 14-inch wheel, like a base Chevy Cavalier, the price is $50 per tire. If you have a Cadillac Escalade, which is an 18-inch wheel, wow do you get screwed. $155 per tire at bare minimum. Screw that.

The only thing I have to consider for cost tomorrow when I get the new tires strapped on is if I'm willing to spend an extra $60 for extra protection which includes full road hazard perks for the life of the tire. I might do it, because in every instance I've had to replace tires, it's always been because of road hazard damage. I'll be asking the shop tomorrow if the coverage includes sidewall punctures, and if it does, I might go for it, because if I'd had road hazard today today, a replacement tire would have been free.

If you're wondering why I didn't change just the 1 tire, it was for two reasons. First, Tire Kingdom didn't have a tire that matched the brand I had - even though they sold it to me originally. Second, using a non-matching brand of tire can seriously screw up your car. The even tire wear is completely thrown off which can knock the alignment out, increase brake wear, mess up the way the car rides, etc. Even the onboard computer get get all out of whack from doing that. In the end, all it does is cost you more later. Short term gain, long term loss. Not a good idea, unless the car is a piece of crap and you just don't care.

Well, I do care and don't want to promote future auto problems, so she's getting the full set.

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