How Do I Shop for Tires?

Tires are some of the most important wear and tear items on your car. After all, it’s the only thing that touches the road. You better make sure you have good tires.

I am a self-proclaimed tire nerd and advocate. Don’t mess with me on this topic. GET GOOD TIRES. With better braking, handling, and nasty weather performance, good tires might just save your life and the lives of those you love.

The problem is that tires are pricey, it takes a lot of experience to know which ones are good, and… they are pricey.

Far too often, I see friends and family members overpaying for their tires because they go to their local tire shop down the road and get charged a premium mark up.


What’s worse is that these tire shops are incentivized to sell their weaker inventory for bonuses. So sometimes you end up paying a lot for crap tires. Not cool.


Here’s what I do:
Go to www.tirerack.com. If you must know, I do not have any ties to this company. I’m just a happy customer. The reviews on the site are legit and the prices are as good as they get.

Simply supply your car’s information, find the right tire based on the reviews and price point, then purchase.

This is important – then choose to send your newly purchased tires to a “recommended installer.” Instead of having big, bulky, tires sent toy our house, you can send it to a local tire shop. Again, reviews & prices are provided so that you can choose wisely.

  • Once the tires arrive at your “recommended installer,” have them mount (putting the new tires on your wheels) and balance (putting tiny weights to make sure your wheels don’t wobble or create vibrations when you’re driving) your wheels. It typically costs $15-25 per wheel depending on the size and labor.

  • I like to get a wheel alignment on my car once a year. Here’s the logic- a good wheel alignment ensures that my car tracks straightly and my wheels wear evenly.

Two quick notes about tire installers:

  • Balancing - I find that the chain stores (think Monroe, Mavis, Mr. Tire, Discount Tire, etc) do not have the ability to do high-speed “road-force” balances. If you have a higher-performance car, look for a shop that provides road force balancing. The difference is big.

  • Wheel Alignments – You want to find a shop that uses a Hunter Alignment rack. These are the best in the industry and will give the best alignments. (You even get print out’s of before and after spec’s)

By going the Tire Rack route, you avoid paying marked up premiums and buying garbage tires. You’ll pay fair prices, get it installed appropriately, and enjoy thousands of miles of safe driving.

*Sometimes, tire shops like Discount Tire or Costco also runs good promotions. Search around.

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