Bricks and Mortar vs. Online Tires
As Woody Allen once said, 90 percent of success is just showing up. If you want your tires done right, be there. Yes, it is simple to order online. My leased Volvo's Michelins are available at low cost — as low as $121 each — from Tiresavings.com. But buying tires online is a project. And I hate projects. Besides, who wants to cart tires all over town just to save pocket change? It's time-consuming, and time is money.
My Rx? Get a quote from Costco first. Costco stands behind everything it sells, from halibut to Hawaiian vacations. And it has notoriously affordable tires sometimes referred to as "club tires." Why spend a mortgage payment on new tires, have a flat on Dead Man's Curve and leave your surviving relatives with no legal recourse?
But, if you consider you are charging yourself for your own time, you must figure in the human factor, like what it will cost to keep yourself entertained while the tires are mounted. At Costco, the experience is linear, nothing but tires, tires, tires. But at Discount Tires you are vertically integrated into the wheel and shock absorber universe — eminently buyable examples of its "racing" wheels stand like Godzilla's coin collection in the waiting room amid catalogs for shock absorbers able to turn your buckboard SUV into Aladdin's flying carpet.
Back to price. I can replace my Michelins at Discount Tires in Long Beach for $904.01 out the door — including all the extras: mounting, balancing, tire stems and disposal fees. (You used to get $2 apiece credit for your old tires as "retreads" — now you pay to get rid of them.) But if I go with Tiresavings.com I can get four of the MXV4 for $484, plus $91 for shipping for a subtotal of $575.
So, that appears like a huge savings. However, remember that you still have to taxi the tires from your doorstep to, say, your closest local service station where you will likely pay another $64 for mounting and balancing, stems and tire disposal. My advice if you decide on this route: Call your service station, work out an "out the door" mounting pact and have UPS "drop ship" the tires.
If, however, I go with Scott at my local place, I can split the difference at $675 — the price he charges for the Michelin package. This is a savings of $230 over what I'd pay at Discount Tires. First, though, I call Costco. Its verdict: "$625 and change." Now it is time to pit these reliable companies against each other. Wonder how that'll work?