How To Save Money On Tires

How to save money on tires

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 The principles still apply, but that deal is now out of date.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:

Tire mounted on a rim
(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:

  • treadwear,
  • traction, and
  • temperature.

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.

Treadwear

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.

Traction

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.

Temperature

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.

Related: How To Make Your New Car Last Forever

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.

These are the top 3 selling cars for 2015, according to www.autofocus.ca:

  1. Ford F-Series (assuming 2DR, 6-foot bed, XL - 245/70R17)
  2. Dodge Ram
  3. 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

Remember, free or no shipping, manufacturer rebates, coupons and other factors can all make a difference in the total price.

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
(USD)
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
 
$231.99 $158.15 N/A $130.15
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
(USD)
Continental ContiProContact $126.99 $121.85 $109.99 $106.67
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
Michelin Premier $138.99 $134.92 $129.45 $119.97
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.

Related: Know How Much Car Repairs Should Cost

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.

Related: Getting The Most Out Of Your New Car Warranty

  • 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.

Final thoughts

Choosing the best tire requires really boils down to…

  • research,
  • 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.

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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Comments

Vicki
Vicki's picture

When my tires are worn and need replacing, I review the original warranty. If they were rated for say 80,000 km's, but were worn by 60,000 I go back to the tire store and request a refund, which I have received. They pro-rate the refund based on the mileage the tire did not provide before wearing out. I generally buy my tires from the same store, and go for regular rotations and pressure checks (free), thereby ensuring I'm getting the most wear out of them but also ensuring if they don't last that I will get the refund when I buy a new set.

September 05, 2017 @ 11:39 am
Lowell
Lowell's picture

Hi Stephen, from a fellow New Brunswicker! Really enjoy your blog.

I am surprised that you did not include anything about Costco in this article. I have purchased two sets of tires from them, so far, and found that their prices are a few hundred below local market and are pretty much in-line with online businesses. They offer lifetime rotation with balancing (plus seasonal tire swaps if both sets are on rims and are from Costco) at the same price as other places charge just for mounting and a single balance. Costco also has a reputation for standing behind their products, taking care of their members and their employees. This certainly presents a strong value proposition. The downside of Costco is that they have a limited selection of products. However, I was able to purchase Consumer Reports recommended tires both times.

Thanks and keep up the great work!

September 05, 2017 @ 11:52 am
Marpy
Marpy's picture

I as well favor Costco when it comes to tires. You can order them on line and have them delivered to the warehouse of you choice where they will call you when in. This helps avoid the long line ups. Ordering on line also means that you can use credit cards other than those accepted at the warehouse. I generally will check 3 or 4 local dealers and Costco has always given me a better price. You also can not beat their warranty and after purchase service. From what I have seen, they carry the better rated brands and so no worries about quality of what you are buying. I generally buy Michelin's and have never had problems with them. The downside of Costco is that they do not take appointments for warehouse purchases which is why I quit getting oil changes at Costco.

September 05, 2017 @ 4:22 pm
Gregg
Gregg's picture

Thanks. Good timing since I have a new Odyssey I'll be buying new winter tires for, with new rims since my previous set won't fit the new vehicle.
I have previously bought several used tires from a used tire dealer in the Burlington area, and they come at a good price with a short warranty and balancing, installed. This was especially good when I needed replacement tires for nail damage and the match was no longer manufactured - allowed a perfect match to what I had instead of needing to buy 2 tires to keep matched pairs. They only sell tires with good tread life remaining.

I have yet to navigate the issue of the tire pressure sensors and what that will mean to swapping rims and tires.

September 05, 2017 @ 11:55 am
Jim Humphrey
Jim Humphrey's picture

I have bought my tires from my Hyundai dealer and they always beat the prices elsewhere. They tend to lower their purchase costs for tires and other accessories for long term customers which keeps us coming back. I looked at buying tires stateside as I live along the US border and found warranties can be an issue. Tires bought in Canada are warrantied state side and in Mexico but tires bought in US are often only warranted in the US.

September 05, 2017 @ 12:08 pm
Kevin
Kevin's picture

Used tires on CL is dicey... it's the only thing keep your car off the ground, so it's a big risk. Just get them a Costco, a full set for about $800, installed with future service. That's the problem with used tires: no service afterwards so you might not be saving in the long run.

September 05, 2017 @ 4:27 pm
L.Scott
L.Scott's picture

Been there, done that (er...actually all these things....)

A set of Dunlop Graspic at Sams Club, (in Canada just before the Waltons pulled the plug) still putting them on every winter and every year once they come off the car, a free balance check is still honoured at any Walmart based Mr. Lube.

Costco tires are done and gone, the great service is clouded by the fact if you show up with a flat you have to make an appointment for about 2 months later. Real good if you were towed in by the CAA to a warehouse far from home.

Did Walmart once, cheap tires for a cheap car and it was a great deal. Car is gone, tires to soon go up on Kijiji.
Walmart warranty also covers you at way more locations than even CanTire. (try that at Costco in Northern Sask....)
Now Walmart lets you order practically any tire online for delivery to the store for installation.

Bought a set of slightly used Michelin IceX off Kijiji (granted it as from a tire shop trying to dump them) as well as a set of factory issued rims (for a Kia) from a private seller, had my grease monkey slap them together and every winter the Missus Herself drives safe.

My last good deal was with Fountain Tire during their 4 for 3 promotion. Bought a set of TripleTred for way less than anywhere else, also got Air Miles and a $60. rebate "Visa" card from Goodyear directly. However, limited locations hampers their viability.

In the end, from your comparison chart, Canucks who buy at TireRack either have really weird requirements / desires or just need to have their heads examined.

In closing, I never tire of your financial insights sir, thanks and keep on rolling out the sage wisdom.

September 06, 2017 @ 6:16 pm

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