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Guide to buying tires online

Posted by tom zoebelein on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 @ 02:10 PM


Five tips before you buy your tires online


Next to oil changes and brakes, tire replacement is an inevitable car repair expense that you will be faced with at least once during the typical ownership of your car. One of the more popular methods of shopping for tires is to buy them online via websites such as www.tirerack.com. The advantage of using a site such as that one, is that you can generally find better pricing on your tires since you are cutting the middleman (the auto repair shop like ours at Ward Automotive) and our markups out of the deal. The downside is that you are not getting the benefit of our experience and advice when choosing your next set of tires. You also still need to take them into a Bel Air auto repair shop to have the tires mounted and balanced.

1.   Find a shop that is happy to install your tires for you.

Any auto mechanic in the Bel Air MD area worth doing business with, will gladly accept shipment of your online tire purchase, and will schedule you to bring the car in to have them balanced. While we do not make as much money on that particular service, this does give us an opportunity to earn your trust, earn your business, and sometimes even detect areas of future concern within your vehicle. It is not uncommon for us to discover the need for a brake job once the wheels and tires are off. In trade, you get the convenience of having a place other than your home to receive the tires and hold them until you are ready to have them installed. It also saves you from having to transport the car and the tires to our shop.

2.   Take your time and do your research

When you buy a tire directly from a mechanic shop, you get the benefit of their experience with that car and tire combination. When shopping online, make sure you read the reviews that are often searchable by your make and model of car, and by the tire that you are considering using. You can also search by geography. For example living in Maryland, we will see way more snow and ice than a reviewer in Arizona. So pay attention to how they say the tire will perform by searching for reviews in your geography.

Generally speaking, tire costs online are lower than those you might find at your local dealership. Online tire distributors also have a huge selection, and access to a greater volume for discounts.

The best online tire websites provide reviews right at your fingertips, both from consumers and industry experts.

3.Double check your sizes before you hit click.

Before you click submit, check your cart against the tires on your car to see that you make sure you’re buying the right sized tires for your wheels. Online tire retailers are generally very accurate in pinpointing the size you need based on make, model, and trim information, but a good look at what’s currently on your car doesn’t hurt. It isn’t uncommon for cars to ship from the factory with two, three, or sometimes even four variations in wheel sizes. People also get confused about speed ratings so make sure that you have selected the appropriate speed rating for your model.

3.   Do the math- extra costs

Add up the costs of everything before you purchase, including shipping, handling and tax if applicable. Call your local tire shop, or call us at Ward Automotive and check their inventory based on what you’ve found to see what their total will be. Don’t forget that there will be mounting and balancing and tire disposal fees added to the total tire replacement costs. Compare your online price against what the “out the door” price would be local for the exact same tire.


4.   Check the warranty on the tires.

One advantage of buying your tires from a local tire shop is that we can handle warranty repairs for you right on the spot. When buying tires online, you will need to deal directly with the manufacturer. Check into this before buying your tires and ask yourself if it is worth the hassle.


5.   See if we can match the price

The biggest draw back to an online tire purchase is the fact that it is not instant. You can’t just order tires and have them installed the same day like you can at a tire shop. Some shops such as ours will do what we can to help win over a new customer. We might even be able to match at least the price you would pay with shipping, and offer you the advantage of same day service. We can also align that vehicle so that you will not prematurely wear through that new set of tires.

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Topics: tire wear, how to preserve your tires