Tips for saving money when purchasing new tires

On August 23, 2017 in AutoAuto Refinance

Tips for saving money when purchasing new tires

Person handling a new tire

Are your tires worn and in need of replacement? Replacing tires is one of those unglamorous but necessary expenses car and recreational vehicle owners must incur to keep their rides in top condition and operating safely. When it comes time to buy new tires, there are plenty of options. The following are a few tips to help you save some money.

Make sure you really need new tires

It’s a mistake to assume you need new tires simply because the odometer turns over to a certain number or because you reach a certain date on the calendar. You may be running a set of tires that were rated for 50,000 miles. However, that figure is only an estimate. They may need to be replaced at 50,000 miles, maybe not. Depending on driving habits, typical road conditions, vehicle weight, etc., a set of tires may need replacement before the rated mileage is reached or they may last well beyond the expected lifetime.

Here’s a very simple rule of thumb to follow to determine if you need new tires. Place a Lincoln penny, upside down, in the tread of each tire. If the top of our 16th president’s head is below the tread line, that means you still have some tire life remaining. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s time to go tire shopping.

Two or four?

Another common mistake people make is to assume that they need to replace all four tires. If you haven’t rotated your tires on a regular basis (or at all), the front tires usually show greater wear because they’re bearing a larger portion of a vehicle’s weight. (Of course, the opposite would be true for rear-engine models.)

If the tires on one axle still have acceptable tread, then just replace the wheels that are worn and look to get another pair of tires when needed, which could be many miles down the road. You’ll cut your outlay of cash in half without sacrificing anything in terms of safety.

Speaking of safety, replacing just one tire is rarely recommended. If tires on a single axle have significantly different tread wear or are mismatched, the vehicle’s ride and handling could be compromised. So if you need to replace one tire, go ahead and get a second for the other half of the axle.

Costs for new tires can vary

Tires are just like any consumer product. What you pay for the same tires from one retailer to the next can be quite different. Typically, auto dealerships and local repair shops are more expensive than stores dedicated to tire sales. You can often get great deals at warehouse clubs or other retailers that cut the price on tires to encourage you to shop in their stores while your new wheels are mounted.

The time of year you purchase can also impact the cost. According to CreditDonkey, April and October are good times to buy. Regardless of when you’re ready for new tires, check out multiple newspaper and digital ads, and try using online price comparison tools such as The range of prices may surprise you and a little research can help you save some serious cash.

The price you see is likely not the final price

Unfortunately, the posted price of tires rarely reflects what you will actually pay. Let’s say a tire has a posted price of $100. Your final cost is likely going to be $125, give or take a few bucks.

Tire sellers usually charge extra for mounting and balancing and a fee to dispose of your old tires. After goods and services are tallied up then taxes are assessed. Simple math shows you should expect to add about $100 to calculate the final total for a set of four new tires.

Know that some retailers may require purchase of a special warranty in order for you to buy the tires at a reduced cost. The warranties can come with a fairly hefty price tag, so be sure you’re not ultimately paying more than you would at a business that doesn’t require such add-ons.

This is all to say, when you’re reviewing sale papers and online information, keep an eye out for asterisks next to sale prices and read the fine print.

Do you need some extra cash to pay for a new set of tires? You may be able to refinance your auto loan to a lower rate with LightStream and roll the cost of the tires into the new loan.