I have always been amazed how the Tire Rack people stay in business. Actually not how, but why people use their product. Any time I have shopped for price of tires, when you add the cost of getting the tires mounted/balanced etc., it doesn’t compute for me. Plus you may well have problems with warranty issues,
I used them a few time while in Anchorage, I got good service and having studded tires delivered mounted and balanced on wheels, ready to install, was a major plus. Now with Costco, Sams, and Discount Tire, I don’t use them (don’t need winter tires in Dallas). But I’d have no problem using them if the price was reasonable. And I don’t think there’s a warranty issue.
On two occasions, when I bought winter tires pre-mounted on wheels, Tire Rack’s prices were definitely competitive. Naturally, I did not have to pay for mounting in these instances. Plus, at that time, the availability of winter tires at brick & mortar stores was…not great.
However, now that winter tires are more widely available–at Costco for example–I think that Tire Rack’s competitive edge has probably been eradicated. But…if I lived in a rural area with few retailers and no warehouse clubs, I would probably have to consider Tire Rack for my tire purchases.
I think that a lot of the decision-making about whether to buy from Tire Rack and other online tire retailers has to do with where somebody lives.
Many times “enthusiasts” want a “special” tire available from few other outlets…Obscure brands of high-performance tires in little-used sizes is what keeps Tire Rack in business. Car buffs who live outside large population centers have a very limited choice of tires and are willing to pay a premium for what they want…
They also sell several lines of suspension and brake components, I used them for those in the past. Also LOTS of different wheels. I’d have to check out the local shops and rockauto.com these days.
That was my experience anytime I looked at them for tires and did the math. It just wasn’t worth the hassle factor or especially if you had a problem. Is it the tire, the wheel, the balancing, or what and who is responsible and what do you do about it today?
My dealer will mount and balance any set of tires from Tire Rack for $50. If I buy new TPMS sensors they install them as well. When I buy tires from Tire Rack I always wait for a promotion that includes a sale and a rebate. Even after shipping and my $50 installation it is usually hundreds cheaper than most of my local shops. And the local shops always press hard for nitrogen filled tires, lifetime flat repair, blah, blah, blah. I have repaired one flat in 20 years and it cost me $10. I don’t need the hard sell for unnecessary services.
And like VDCdriver, I have bought several sets of winter tires on wheels that came mounted and balanced. They use a Hunter Road Force Balancer which is MUCH better than standard spin balancing. All in all I would say that Tire Rack has earned my business over and over for 15 years.