Sometimes buying for quality may cost you more in the short-term…
But over the full life of the asset that you buy, it should eventually pay off.
Tires are no different.
Quite as few years back, Stephen wrote a great piece on finding a great deal on winter tires. The principles still apply, but that deal is now out of date.
So this is an updated how-to guide finding the right deal on tires. We’ll discuss:
- What you need to know about tires, and
- Where to find the deals, plus things to consider.
Let’s dive in.
What you need to know about tires
“They’re rubber, right? Isn’t that all I need?”
Good starting point. But wait, there’s more.
First, have a look at your tire.
The anatomy of your tire
Maybe you’re fortunate and it is mounted on a nice rim (and car) like the picture below:
(The metal part is the rim of wheel. The rubber part is the tire.)
You’ll normally see a number of things on the tire, including the make and model of the tire (like this Michelin Premier LTX).
On the tire you’ll normally see something like P215/65/R15. In this case:
- P = Passenger car tire
- 215 = The nominal width of tire in millimeters
- 65 = Ratio of height to width (aspect ratio)
- R = Radial
- 15 = Rim diameter code
Additionally, the manufacturer has done extensive testing to ensure that ride, fuel economy and overall vehicle experience aligns well with the original tire provided.
Doing things like going up in size or choosing a drastically different tire for your ride can impact fuel economy, life of suspension components, handling and so on. So, if you want to do this, make sure you fully understand what will happen as a result of the changes.
The 3 T’s of tire
The other thing to pay attention to is where the tire says:
- traction, and
There will be numbers assigned to these 3 items.
And when it comes to saving money, you’ll want to pay attention so you get what is appropriate for your vehicle. There’s a big difference between a Corvette and a Yaris, afterall. Here’s a good photo illustration from Wikipedia.
Why care about the numbers?
Numbers tell us a great big deal about things.
When it comes to tires, for example, getting the proper size is important. And people get this wrong more than you would think.
Let’s also jump back to treadwear, traction, and temperature for a minute.
Generally with treadwear, the higher the number, the longer life the tire will have.
Not all brands are exactly the same when it comes to the UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading).
So, be sure to read reviews of the tire you would like to buy, keeping in mind your driving habits.
When it comes to traction ratings, the highest is “AA” and the lowest a “C”.
When you’re thinking about what tire to buy, keep in mind how you will use it:
- Does it rain a lot where you are?
- Will you drive this tire year-round?
- Do you drive like a race car driver or are you fairly mild?
Answers to these questions will influence your choice.
When in doubt, going with more traction is never a bad idea.
Finally, temperature grades range from A to C, with A being able to keep cool the best.
If you live in a hot area or you tend to drive “hard”, it may be wise again to look at going with a higher grade.
Let’s find some cheap tires
Alright, alright…Let’s get started on actually finding the best deal on tires.
Ready? Let’s do it.
When it comes to buying tires, consider:
- Are you junking your car in six months? I wouldn’t spend $1.5K on tires.
- If you think your car is worth $60K and you want the performance that you paid for in the first place – then I may spend the $3K instead of the $1.5K option (unless of course you’re getting an amazing deal on the right tires).
Let’s have a look at some common vehicles and do some comparisons.
Tire price comparisons
So, let’s say you got a car in 2015 and you’ve decided that the tires that came on it are up for renewal.
- Ford F-Series (assuming 2DR, 6-foot bed, XL - 245/70R17)
- Dodge Ram
- Honda Civic (assuming a DX model, 195/65R15)
For brevity here, we’re going to look at the F-150 and the Civic.
For the examples, we’re going to assume shipping to Winnipeg, Manitoba (if required).
Now, the options below are just a few possibilities. The biggest things to think through are:
Get the right tire for you
Think of your driving habits, budget (over the life of the tire), read reviews, etc.
Find the best deal
Don’t just go for the first price that you see.
Google is your friend. But like anything, make sure the sites are valid. If a deal looks too good to be true, usually it is.
You can also: ask your friends, social networks, and so on for recommendations.
Do a comparison
So, what are some options to help me save money?
Check out these tables for a few options (cost is per tire):
|Tire for F-Series||Canadian Tire||PMC Tire||4Tires||TireRack
|General Tire Grabber HTS60 Tire||$160.99||$150.85||$135.35||$147.52|
|Shipping?||Pick it up locally.||Free||Free||$262.40|
|Kumho Road Venture AT51 Tire
|Shipping?||Pick it up locally.||Free||N/A||$273.12|
|Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac||$279.99||$238.17||N/A||$238.69|
|Shipping?||Pick it up locally.||Free||N/A||$184.66|
The winner in this comparison?
In this case, I’d be looking at the 4Tires option.
Now, you may have a different tire selected, depending on your needs…
But in this case, for new tires especially, it seems the HTS60 is the winner.
What about used tires?
An option if spending that much per tire isn’t worth it for you?
Local used tire places or Kijiji and Craigslist can work well.
Often, prices can be up to half of what you would pay new, even with very little usage.
Buyer beware: if you’re going this route, make sure you know what you’re looking for or are dealing with someone that you trust. The last thing you want to do is get a tire with “500 kms on it” and then be paying for new tires in 3 months.
Some options I found on Kijiji:
- “Selling pretty much new set of 4 tires only 300 km on them for 700 obo.” … Firestone Transforce AT. $175 for a tire that 1010tires.com charges $194.99? I’ll save $80 bucks on a set of 4 all day long.
- I found “new” Duratracs for $90/tire … Hmm. I’d say proceed with caution.
- Brand new BF Goodrich Long Trail tires: $200/tire.
Ok now, let’s look at the Civic (again cost is per tire):
|Tire for Honda Civic
||Canadian Tire||PMC Tire||4Tires||TireRack
|Shipping?||Pick it up locally.||Free||Free||$119.62|
|Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring||$151.99||$140.85||N/A||$108.75|
|Shipping?||Pick it up locally.||Free||N/A||$264.78|
|Shipping?||Pick it up locally.||Free||Free||$130.62|
As above, I also looked at Kijiji for options in Winnipeg:
- “Should fit in all civics or Acura up to 2005 Bolt pattern is 4x100mm Tires and Rims are 15 inch! Tire size is 195 65 15 Includes original wheel covers! Price is $400 for the set of 4.” … In this case, you could probably net $100 from the sale of the 4 rims and keep the tires.
- “Kelly Edge All Season Tire Brand NEW *Full Road Hazzard Warranty* Size P 195/65R/15” … Great Reviews online. Tire is made by the Kelly company which is owned by Goodyear. $100 per tire for brand new tires.
- 90% from an sx4 on rims. Cooper tires. $350 for 4.
The winner in this comparison?
I’m probably going to go with the last deal on Kijiji. A good price, still lots of tread and I can sell the original rims to get back a bit of my money.
8 More Quick Tips
More quick tips right here...
- Mount tires on a set of rims. If you have two sets of tires (common in Canada), mounting tires on a set of rims to avoid installation costs each season is smart. You’ll end up paying $20-$50 instead of $50-$100 for each season.
- Check out local tire sellers. They have VERY low margins on tires. If you’re looking for a deal, generally that’s not the place to get them. If you buy from a local mechanic shop, they may treat you well with pricing on other items & service which can even out in the end.
- Consider brand names that may not be so well known. Much like anything these days, some “off” brands can allow for excellent savings while still giving you a great product.
- Consider a roadside warranty. Some retailers offer this as part of the deal with the tire. Make sure you read the terms and conditions. A small investment could offer great insurance down the road, but it could also go very wrong if you don’t adhere to your end of the bargain.
- A “touring” tire will generally give you longer life, compared to a “sport” tire. Make sure you fully understand your needs and pick the tire that is appropriate.
- Negotiate the price. Especially if you are open to buying used tires, remember that you can always negotiate the price. Your chances of negotiating success is higher if you don’t need the tires right away...because you can walk away from a sub-par deal.
- Get the full details of the kind of tire you need. If you do buy used, understand what the measurement of the full tread depth is and have something on hand that you can use to compare. Often times, a dime or a quarter can do this job nicely.
- Canadian Tire offers 12-months equal monthly payments on $200 or more of purchases.
Choosing the best tire requires really boils down to…
- reading reviews, and
- taking your driving situation into consideration.
...hopefully saving you money, hassles and headaches in the next several years.
Do you have other tips? Tell us in the comments below.