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Buying tires online

Hello all. I have read various posts where people recommend (for example) for buying tires. I am curious as to why people order tires online instead of going to their local tire shop. Don’t shipping and handling costs erase any price advantages for the online shops?

Yes, they could be more expensive than a good deal at a local shop.
Additionally, in the event of a defective tire, consider the hassle of shipping the tire(s) back for exchange.

If you can find a good deal locally, that may well be your best option.
Personally, I buy my tires from Costco. The combination of good prices on high-quality tires, installation with a torque wrench, free lifetime rotation and re-balancing, and a free lifetime Road Hazard Warranty makes their deals difficult to beat.

I have chosen on line for my last two tyre purchases. First I needed winter tyres and rims. TireRack had a very nice selection and the full price including shipping was less than any local dealer. I installed the tyres myself, nothing more than rotating tyres. The other time I just needed replacement summer tyres and they shipped the tyres to a local dealer. All I had to do was show up at my local dealer who did the install. As I recall the install charge was included in the price I paid to TireRack.

In both cases the net price was less than I had found locally.

A lot depends on the car. For a Yaris the tires are cheap enough that your savings will be neglegible. For larger wheels, performance tires, etc, on line can save you money. Tire Rack is good, but many others are also. Note, some shops will not mount new tires that you bring in yourself.

I have always been able to find better deals at a local outlet, but I had to shop around…

If you feel you must have a “special”, hard to find tire, a mail-order deal might be your only choice as no tire store has enough shelf-space to cover todays tire market…

Thanks everyone for the replies. I have used Tires Plus for years. However, the last time I purchased tires from them, I worked with a very aggressive salesman. I went in the shop only wanting to purchase two tires, and he convinced me to replace all four, even though two of the tires were only a year old. So now I am weighing whether to go to for my next tire purchase and avoid salespeople, or whether I should go to a tire store.

For me, there are a few reasons.

First, the sales tax savings usually cancels out the shipping and handling costs, to answer your question.

Second, I’m in a small city. My local tire shops often don’t have the tires I’m looking for in stock, so I’d have to wait for a special order anyway.

Third, Tire Rack has put together a good collection of reasonably unbiased reviews and technical articles. I think they deserve some of my business for doing that.

Personally, I haven’t tried ordering tires online yet, but tires are getting so expensive that I am considering it.

I’ve purchased quite a few tires from tirerack and discounttiresdirect. I have them drop-shipped to my mechanic who mounts them at a reasonable cost. Internet tires are an even better deal if you are going with wheel/tire packages (i.e. winter tires). I’ve never had a problem. The reasons for buying are better selection, price and customer service. Customer/technical support at tirerack is especially good. Tirerack tests tires and publishes the results. The customer ratings are especially helpful.


As with many vehicle parts purchases I will use online pricing to try to get my local store to price-match.

Personally I’d much rather support local merchants rather than sending my money somewhere else, afterall who will I go to if I have an issue?

I’ve never had the local shop tell me they could do nothing with regard to price; sometimes they match/beat the online price and sometimes they just give the best discount they can. If a local shop is willing to work with price even if they can’t match the online sales giants they will likely earn my business.

Being browbeaten into purchasing more than what you need is an issue you need to work out for yourself. The salesman’s job is to sell as much as possible, your job is to purchase only what you need.

I buy my tires at my locally owned tire shop. This shop goes out of its way to be helpful. I had a blowout on our 2003 Toyota 4Runner. I put the spare tire on, but needed a spare. The owner’s manual says that the tires should all be the same make. The tire store agreed, but didn’t handle Dunlop tires. The salesman said he would check with the other tire stores and get a Dunlop tire. In the middle of the morning he called and said that they had a customer with the same tires as I had on my 4Runner that was trading them for a different brand. These tires had 50% of the treadlife remaining. He asked if he could mount one for the spare. The cost was only $35. This shop has a very good alignment specialist. Some time back they ran down a problem with the antilock brakes on the Ford Aerostar I owned (the Aerostar only had antilock brakes on the rear wheels). The Ford dealer made 3 attempts to find the problem and failed. For me, the service is as important as the product. I may pay more for the tires than I would online or at a discount chain store, but the service is worth it to me.

Buying tires online and having them shipped to a local mechanic for installation…isn’t that the same as bringing in your own parts? Many of the regular posters here have compared that to taking your own groceries into a restaurant and asking them to cook a meal for you.

I suppose if you needed very expensive and/or hard to find tires, it could make sense, but I just don’t see the logic in it.

I guess my problem with buying the tires online is who do I trust to install them. How do you find a shop that will do the mount and balance without being offended you did not buy the tires from them?

I bought from tirerack twice and didn’t have any problems either time. First time was for my Civic when I got rims and tires for it. They shipped the tires, already mounted on the rims, to their recommended shop here in town. Since the tires were already mounted, I didn’t even get charged a penny by the store for the install, nor the return visit 100 miles later for a retorque. They didn’t even try to sell me any other service either, and this is a national chain store(NTB) too.
2nd time I ordered new tires for my mom’s Cobalt and just had them ship the tires to my house and let my mom set up an appointment for the install. Though I think I was the one who made the call, as my mom is rather adverse about talking to someone on the phone, or in person, even when she wants to know where an item in the grocery store is. I don’t remember what they charged her to mount the tires, but I think it was a nominal fee, and they didn’t give me and hassle over the phone about having my own tires to bring in and install.

Even if you don’t buy from Tire Rack, their reviews and surveys are great background. I read the surveys for standard touring radials, and decided on 4 Yokohama Avid Touring tires for my geriatric Buick Regal. They are quiet and handle well. It’s about the only thing the kid’s like about the car. :wink:

BTW, if you live near DC or in PA, you might find a Mr Tire near you. I shop at a local Mr Tire and am very satisfied with the service. A lot has to do with the specific store, but these guys don’t try to sell me anything extra. I went in with a complaint and suggested a remedy. The guy at the counter told me that wasn’t the issue, even though he could have sold me something. Well, actually he did sell me something: 4 new tires on Mrs JTs Silhouette and 4 new tires on my Accord. I haven’t bought them yet, but I know where I’m going.

I’ve used Tirerack probably a dozen times with never a problem. The shipping is getting up there (Thanks USPS, UPS, FedEx) but depending on the tires I wanted at the time and local price Tirerack was a faster and cheaper option.

One set of tires from TR ran about 68 each including shipping (about 7 bucks each mounting/balancing) and the local dealer here quoted 91 each + mounting/balancing for the exact same tire. In this case TR was worth it; in other cases it may not be.

I have always been able to find better deals at a local outlet, but I had to shop around…

That certainly can be true often. I agree that shoping around is a good idea all the time.

Tirerack has a network of installers that should do this with no problem. Give them a call.

I buy my tires from Discount Tire. My local Discount Tire outlet will price match I live close to the Tirerack outlet in South Bend (I bought tires there once and also had them installed there - but then found out Discount would price match). Maybe that’s why Discount will price match. But I wouldn’t hesitate to check if your local tire dealers will price match an online deal. It doesn’t cost anything to ask and the worst case is they’ll just say no.

I use Discount Tire now, they have good (enough) prices, along with Sams and Costco.