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Did my new mechanic lie to me?

I have little-to-no knowledge about vehicles/repairs and I am hoping someone can help me understand a situation that occurred at an auto shop today. So I have a 2014 Chevy Spark that I have always religiously taken to my local Chevy dealer between 4,000-5,000 miles for oil change and tire rotation. I recently moved to a new state and had to find a new shop. There is a well-known auto shop chain right down the road so I went this A.M for a maintenance bundle including oil change and tire rotation. After a little while the guy called me up and said “We cant do a tire rotation today because your back tire is legally balled. If you replace your back tires then we will rotate them.” He showed me my options on tires but I didn’t feel right spending $700+ bucks without doing my own research on pricing and what not. The guy says they will leave the bad tires in the rear and not rotate them because they are “legally balled.” I was kind of embarrassed so I just paid (for the entire bundle maintenance deal that included tire rotation and 2 silly filters that I always get talked into :-[) and left.

Now I’m sitting here looking at my papers from the shop and at online stuff and Im feeling like they should/could have rotated my tires–but again I am so clueless with everything auto that I could be totally wrong. My paper work says my Left and Right Front tire tread is 5/32, my Right rear is 4/32, and Left rear is 2/32. I am gathering from online the better tread should be in the back, no? Do mechanics typically refuse to rotate tires like these? I am definitely going to get new tires but I don’t like feeling like I was deceived, nor do I want to buy my tires at that shop if they led me astray.

P.s. I did the “Penny Test” I found online and I could not see the top of Lincoln’s head so I’m hoping that means my tire will be okay until I shop around and purchase new tires?

Thank you in advance!

anything less that 4/32nd’s is not allowed on the front end of a vehicle. The rear is allowed to go down to 2/32nd’s. If your tires are that “bald,” then your mechanic made the safe decision to not rotate your tires.

If you are unsure, drive into a tire shop and get a second opinion- most will check them for free.


I suggest you replace ALL of your tires. By all means, shop around by price


They were right that you need new tires all around. Get them ASAP. You will notice better handling and less tire noise. $700 for any tire you are likely to put on a Spark seems high, unless that includes 4-wheel alignment. If you want to get a good idea about prices, got to and check out OEM replacements for your car. You can also read tests of tires at the same web site and read customer opinions. If you live in a large metro area, any of the tires they sell on line should be available somewhere nearby. We can also help you pick new tires if you like. We won’t pick them for you, but will help you decide.


When your tire’s tread is even with the wear bars (2.32nds of tread) the tires are technically illegal. Or in your tire store’s words Bald (not balled). Period. Anything else is a “policy” of the tire store. The 4/23nds worn tires can be put on the front because they are still legal to use. They are worn but not worn out. And yes, the best tires should be at the rear.

What are wear bars, you say?? This picture shows them

Normally I am a stickler for not scrimping on tires because quality tires will keep you safer. But $700 for 4 new ties for a Spark??? That price is too high, they are taking advantage of you and every other customer. Stay away from the big chains, head for your local independent tire store and price up some tires.

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2/32" is the legal limit I’m aware of. Talking non-commercial vehicles here.

Of course I agree with you on every point, but if you re-read the OP’s opening statements, it appears that this chain store is trying to charge him $700 for just two tires! While that would be outright highway robbery, the way that the OP wrote his post certainly makes it sound like that price was just for two tires.

Can the OP possibly clarify the issue for us?

I was HOPING that $700 was for 4 but it did, indeed, read like that was for 2. If that is the case stay away from this store!

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Additionally, if the OP is concerned about “lying”, then I think there is a very real possibility that his/her old Chevy dealership was lying when they claimed to be rotating his/her tires at every 4k-5k oil change. If the tires were consistently rotated on that schedule, there is virtually no possibility that the tires would have the following wear characteristics, as posted by the OP:

For the tires to have wear patterns that are that disparate, the only possibilities–IMHO–are a lack of rotation and/or a suspension/alignment problem with the car, and/or a failure on the part of the OP to maintain proper air pressure in all 4 tires on a consistent basis.


Yep, you need tires-all four. Lot’s of shops will not rotate tires if they are 3/32 or below for liability reasons.

my source is for Commercial vehicles. My apologies if non- commercial is different. admittedly, my experience is almost all commercial.

either way- 2/32nd’s is needed to be replaced for safety.

Without seeing your tires, no way to tell for sure via the internet. But if one of them measured 2/32, both tires on that axle should probably be replaced. It may be that shop’s policy to not work on customer tires that are at their wear limit, as it poses a liability issue. If the customer gets a blow out which causes property damage or injury, the shop doesn’t want to be in the position to explain why they released a car back to the customer they had worked on with a known safety problem. So as a business policy they don’t do any work like rotating if the car has low tread tires. It’s a lawyer thing, but it is also a safety thing.

I’d recommend once you get situated after your move to find a repair and maintenance shop recommended to you by a friend, co-worker, fellow church goer, fellow bar hopper, someone you have a trusted personal relationship with. Let the shop owner know who it was that recommended them. That gives you a little leverage in the customer/shop transaction, b/c they know if they don’t treat you well, you will tell the other customer, and they may lose that business too. It’s called collective bargaining … lol …

Tires are best purchased at your local tire specialty stores or Costco, if you are a member at your local Costco. Folks here seem to think Walmart is pretty good for buying tires too, but I’ve never used them myself. I usually use Costco. If you surf to the Tire Rack website (or many other tire related websites) they will list most of the tires currently being produced that fit on your car, and their prices. Best of luck.


Just from my experience Walmart carries tire models that no one else carries. They may say Goodyear but they are not the same tires that you would get at a Goodyear dealer. Same as computers-the model numbers won’t match anything else out there. I wouldn’t buy tires at Walmart.


Me too on missing the two tire thing. $700 for four tires mounted, balanced, aligned, and disposal is acceptable. For two tires? OP, go somewhere else and don’t go back to that chain shop again.


You absolutey do not need new air and cabin filters every 4-5 thousand miles. Even my dealer lies about that. Look in your owners manual and stick to that change interval. And yes, they lied to you that it was not legal to rotate your tires. It may be against their policy but that just shows that this shop will lie just because it is easier.
My advice would be to get a good local mechanic, he will get to know you and your car and can save you thousands by not trying to sellyou unneeded repairs.

Cheap oil changes and coupons are usually just to get you in the door to be fleeced.

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You should see some of the various filters in our fleet vehicles

Many of them absolutely “need new air and cabin filters every 4-5 thousand miles” as you said

Without seeing OP’s filters, we don’t know what actual condition they were in. We also don’t know the environment, it’s possible they were awful

As mentioned above, 2/32 is the legal limit. Although 4/32 is legal, there’s a noticeably higher risk of hydroplaning in the rain from that point on, so it’s a good idea to replace tires at that point if possible. (If this were winter and you were driving in snow, then you’d actually want no less than 6/32.) In your situation, I’d replace all four tires now.


Thanks for info! Yes, the price they gave me was for 2 tires, including labor and that stuff. I did a little online shopping and found much better pricing. Nonetheless, sounds like they did the right thing by not rotating my “bald” tires. Thanks again everyone!
-Clueless chick

There is no benefit in placing the 2/32" tires in the front, they will wear faster there.

$700 for two tires? Do you have the estimate, tire name and price for each?

Yeah I think $700 is a little high for two tires, but not beyond the realm of possibility depending on the tires and the upsell. The last tires I bought for the Pontiac were Generals and it was somewhere around $600 out the door for four. But the last tires I bought for the Acura TL I had were $1200 for Michelin for four. I’m about due on the Pontiac again so we’ll see what the current prices are. Just saying that a lot depends on the tire and size. I’ve spent $200 too for four no name tires made somewhere in the world.