Don't pay too much for new tires

October 29, 2010 10:14:49 AM PDT
When I needed new tires for my minivan, I comparison shopped online. The best deal I found was $102 per tire. What I didn't count on were the additional fees that added nearly $136 more to my total. Turns out, my tire-shopping experience wasn't unique.

"There's the installation fee, the balancing fee, there's so many fees," explains Jeannine Fallon of Edmunds.com. "Plus, once they have your car up on the lift, they're going to talk about the fact that you need an oil change, you need brake pads. They're going to try to sell you things that you weren't thinking that you were going to buy that day."

According to "Confessions of a Tire Salesman," an undercover investigation by Edmunds.com, many tire salesmen work on commissions, so they may try to sell you services you don't really need .

To avoid being overcharged, Fallon suggests knowing the last time you had an alignment, or got a new battery or brake pads, so that if the salesman says you need them, you'll know if that's true.

She also suggests doing your research online and then asking what the "out-the-door" price will be for new tires, before you commit to a particular dealer.

"If you don't like the price, if you don't like the tone of the conversation, walk away," Fallon advises. "There's other people that'll take your business happily and give you a better deal."

Another option is to order tires online from a site such as Tires.com, Tire Buyer, or Discount Tire Direct. You can have the tires shipped directly to a mechanic you know and trust for installation, if they're willing.

"Installing tires isn't really that hard of a thing to do. Most mechanics should have that skill set, but you do want to check with your mechanic," Fallon says. "Tell you want to give them the business. See if they'll cut you a deal. Let them know you'll refer them to your friends and family."

According to Edmunds.com, a reasonable price for installation alone would be about $20 per tire, or $80 total.

To read "Confessions of a Tire Salesman," click here.


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