What does a mechanic due about getting tires for his own vehicle? I had to buy 2 tires for my own personal vehicle which is a rear wheel drive 2009 Cadillac SRX. This is one of those situations where I am forced to have someone else in the auto repair business work on my vehicle. This can be difficult for a mechanic.
As they say doctors make the worst patients and I would think that car mechanics make the worst auto service customers. I was completely shell-shocked when I discovered exactly how expensive the H speed rated tires were on the SRX. The tire size not being exactly a common one 255/60/17 is also different than the front 235/65/17.
This means no rotation and faster wear. Although I wish this article could be about rear wheel drive and how often tires wear out, this story is actually about the things you should be looking out for and the horrible experience I had when I tried to obtain some estimates for getting 2 tires replaced.
Getting Tires at the Dealership
I wouldn’t say that I love my local dealership, but I would rather go there then the other places in town. I did get a Cadillac recall done there and felt that the mechanics were competent. I have also seen the General Motors dealerships advertising that they now have competitive tire pricing. The estimate for replacing two rear tires on the SRX provided was $800.
This did not seem exactly competitive to me as indicated on the TV commercials. However, I suppose they use the word competitive, because it is open to interpretation. Say what you will, but the ad made me consider going to the dealer for tires for the first time in my car owning lifetime.
I knew that I could purchase the tires themselves online for about $200 a piece so this meant there was $400 of labor and mark up figured into the dealership’s estimate. There’s no doubt that the car dealer or tire shop deserves to make money on the job. Nevertheless, double over cost seemed a little steep, so I decided to look around a little further.
Getting Tires at a Tire Store
There are three different tire chain stores in my town. I visited all three and the experience was very similar in each location. The first place I went to didn’t carry and would not order the same brand of tires that were currently installed on my vehicle. They said that this was good news because if I bought three I would get one for free.
I received a written estimate for three tires installed and the total was $900. The problem was the brand of tire was a Chinese knockoff that I would never let them install on my fine automobile. When I looked at the estimate I noticed a lot of extra charges which is the main reason that I am writing this article about getting tires.
There are things you’ll have to pay for at a tire store such as a tire disposal fee and mounting and balancing. However, there are things that are optional and are often thrown right into the estimate. All three locations included the optional services in the estimates. The first up-sell option was a lifetime wheel alignment program.
My vehicle was getting rear tires and did not need an alignment, but it was included in the estimate and was expensive because it was the lifetime alignment option. Another thing that they threw in was a deluxe Road hazard warranty. One of the things that made me shake my head was the addition of $20 worth of shop supplies.
I have written about unfair shop supply charges in other articles and invite your comments about the subject. Next to the shop fees in the estimate was an * that led to an explanation of the additional charges. Here are the exact words. “This charge represents costs and profits to the motor vehicle repair facility for miscellaneous shop supplies or waste disposal”.
I think that the key word to focus on would be profits. This is just yet another profit center to push up the price. Also remember that this shop supply was on top of the state-mandated tire disposal fees. To make a long story short $900 for 4 cheap tires I wouldn’t even take the time to throw in the trash didn’t seem like a good option.
I purchased the name brand tires that came on the car from the factory, online from the tire rack. I then took these tires to a repair center and had them mounted and balanced. The labor was $26 a tire so I saved a grand total of $200 over the cheapest estimate.
Getting tires online might not be right for everyone, but it’s good to at least get a price so you can compare it with the estimates you get from your local tire repair centers. Always go over your estimate with a fine tooth comb and understand each line of charges before you approve the repairs. The next link takes you back to the homepage for more of the latest articles to the auto repair information blog.