When you’re looking for the best places to buy tires, there’s certainly no shortage of places you could shop. Your choices include warehouse clubs, online tire merchants, discount tire shops, independent retailers and more.
With all the choices out there, your head might be spinning at maximum revolutions per minute — just like your tires.
But don’t worry: We’ve got some new guidance for you about the very best places to buy tires.
Where is the best place to buy tires?
Want the best experience and price when it comes to purchase and installation?
Consumer Reports polled nearly 50,000 of its subscribers who bought tires recently. They asked about who offered the best cost, selection, sales service and free perks.
Those free perks were defined as including tire rotation, tire balancing, tire mounting, road-hazard warranties and vehicle inspections.
Other metrics the magazine had its readers grade tire retailers on included the quality of installation, wait time for installation, cleanliness of the waiting area, checkout ease and return/exchange policies.
One note: Obviously, you won’t get installation if you buy online from someone like Amazon. That metric wasn’t figured in for the online retailers.
“Buying tires has never been so cost-competitive so it very important to comparison shop,” money expert Clark Howard says. “Service after the sale is really important, especially if you live in city with lots of potholes.”
These tire retailers do it best
The prices below reflect median price per tire when purchasing four tires at the same retailer. This number includes installation and balancing fees.
(N/A indicates that the sample size was too small to accurately calculate a median price.)
|Les Schwab Tire Centers||$187|
|Belle Tire Distributors||$168|
Visit ConsumerReports.com to see the complete list with full rankings on more than 30 retailers.
A deeper dive into a few of the best places to buy tires
Let’s take a closer look at the three cheapest tire sellers in the Consumer Reports survey: TireBuyer.com, Costco Wholesale and Belle Tire Distributors.
We’re purposely skipping independent retailers even though they’re only $1 more expensive than Costco. That’s because it’s impossible to generalize about them as a group.
Likewise, we’re also ignoring the cheapest quote from Amazon.com because it doesn’t offer any sort of service; you would just buy tires and then have to put them on yourself.
Despite being an online seller, TireBuyer.com offers installation of tires through a partnership with 9,000 shops nationwide.
When it comes to variety, TireBuyer has a robust slate of 4 million tires for sale. The full lineup of brands includes Michelin, B.F. Goodrich, Uniroyal, Cooper, Continental, Hankook, Kumho, Firestone, Toyo and Bridgestone, among others.
In addition, here are some other top selling points for TireBuyer:
- Free delivery on all tires — usually same-day or next-day service
- Guaranteed installation rates
- 45-day easy returns
- Free return shipping
- Installation satisfaction guarantee
With more than 530 warehouse club locations, Costco Wholesale offers the right combination of access and price.
Costco’s selection may not be the largest, but there’s a big emphasis on staple brands like Michelin, Bridgestone and B.F. Goodrich, among others.
Several times a year, the warehouse club will even discount select brands of tires by $70 to $80 and offer 1-cent installation per tire (regularly $15 per tire).
Plus, with every installation job, you’ll get the following thrown in at no cost:
- Inflation pressure checks — free for the life of the tire
- Tire balancing — free for the life of the tire
- Tire rotations — free for the life of the tire
- Flat repairs — free for the life of the tire
- Five-year road hazard warranty — included with purchase
One drawback is that Costco will not do alignments, so that is something to consider. Here are 7 things you should know before getting new tires at Costco.
“I buy my tires at Costco when they offer the double discount of penny installation and an additional incentive for using my Costco Visa card,” Clark Howard notes. “That works out to be a savings of $130!”
Clark.com readers share their experiences buying tires from Costco
Dan P. recently wrote in to share a tip gleaned from his years buying tires at Costco.
“Tire shops like to sell what they have in stock, Costco is no exception. I’ve started checking with the tire manufacturer to confirm their recommendation,” Dan writes. “I have Costco special order my tires. You will get a better tire (road noise and handling). I found out after noticing my new tires did not perform as well and went to the tire maker’s web page to research.”
Meanwhile, remember that five-year road hazard warranty that we mentioned a moment ago?
Another reader named Ray W. wanted to share his experience with that. He likes to do his own tire rotations, but he cautions that will void the warranty.
“It has to be done professionally [along with] the associated costs. And if you use the free Costco service to rotate your tires, be prepared to spend a good one to two hours,” Ray W. notes.
Have any other tips you want to share with us about buying tires at Costco or any of these other retailers? Leave a comment below!
Belle Tire Distributors
Belle Tire is a regional tire shop with more than 130 locations throughout Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
The tri-state area tire shop offers a full line-up of tires and wheels, including Wagner, Voxx, Uniroyal, Monroe, Toyo, Sumitomo, Kelly, Goodyear and Michelin, among others.
Belle Tire is also a full-service shop. So in addition to doing your alignment, they also deal with suspension, brakes, auto glass, oil changes and other services.
Though they weren’t included in the Consumer Reports list, honorary mentions should go to Sam’s Club and TireRack.com.
Sam’s Club offers something no other shop offers to our knowledge — emergency roadside tire service with your purchase.
For three years from purchase, Sam’s Club members have 24-hour toll-free access for emergency tire change service. Apparently, they will send a truck to come deal with your flat on the side of the road.
TireRack.com, meanwhile, has long been recommended by money expert Clark Howard as being among the cheapest places to buy tires.
Finally, if you’re looking for the best tires to put on your vehicle, we’ve got suggestions broken down by type and price point — best all-season, best performance, best winter/snow tire and more — right here.
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