Why is it so hard to get tire prices?
When you call most tire stores shopping for tires, expect them to ask you a few questions before they make tire recommendations, before you get the tire prices that you are steeling yourself to hear. “That much? Really? Ouch!” [Tire prices have risen in the last 3 years, and will continue to rise, due to spiraling raw-material costs and an increasing, world-wide demand for tires].
What’s with all the tire questions?
Why do we ask tire questions? Because we want to make sure that what we sell you and install on your vehicle are the perfect tires for you. And those perfect tires may be a different brand and model even for individuals with the same type of vehicle.
The perfect tire would include a price you want to pay and the features and benefits you need to make your life easier. So features such as a “comfort zone” that enhances the ride qualities of a tire, or an enhanced silica tread compound that increases wet-weather traction, or energy-saving tire design and tread compounds that lower rolling resistance and increase fuel economy sometimes have to be prioritized. Not everything you would like to have may be available at the price you need to pay.
Research? The only research I’m doing is about tire prices!
Buying the right tires is more than just price. That is why it is critical for us to understand what you need and want from your next set of tires. And because a recent Consumer Reports survey found that only 44 percent of respondents did some research before buying their tires--and so 56 percent did NO research--please excuse us while we ask tire questions to determine your driving usage, so we can make the best tire recommendations.
Yes, you ask the guy in the tire store what’s his best price for tires for your Camry and he seems to be avoiding the answer by asking all sorts of private questions. It’s none of his business if you do a lot of highway driving or mostly city driving! He should certainly keep his nose out of your affairs when he asks how long you want this next set of tires to last!
Answering tire questions means spending more money, right?
There is also that fear factor, similar to what people feel when a doctor asks probing questions. Tell him the whole truth, they think, and that will be an excuse to ramp up the price (more tests, oh-boy!). So when the tire guy starts with that routine, you downplay that, with two kids in college, you will be keeping this vehicle for five more years. “Oh, I’m thinking of trading it in before fall,” you answer cleverly. Maybe he’ll give me a better price, you hope.
And he may offer what appears to be a good price, but maybe for tires with no mileage warranty and poor winter traction as a trade-off for that lower price. But it shouldn’t matter, right? You are getting rid of it before it snows, right? So when the tires wear out after 20,000 miles, with seven thousand of those miles spent driving white-knuckle on slippery roads, you swear you will never go back because he sold you bad tires.
In fact, what he sold you probably were not “bad” tires, just tires that were not appropriate for your needs. After all, that guy at the tire shop may know his tires, but he is not a mind-reader. And he did try asking…
Ask tire questions yourself!
So do as much research as you can and jot down questions that may occur when doing this research. Any good shop welcomes informed buyers, because that makes their jobs easier. But expect to field some questions even if you seem to have picked out the perfect tire. Why? Because maybe they can recommend a similar tire, with all the same benefits, at a lower price because it is a house brand of a major company and does not have all the overhead costs as its brand-name cousin. Or maybe you overlooked a minor disadvantage in this great tire, such as, it’s perfect if you live somewhere that it doesn’t snow!
If we do right by you with our tire recommendations, you’ll be back.
So we ask questions to help you choose the right tires, because we want to sell you your next set of tires, and the set after that, and tires for your wife’s car, and the “college cars” also.
We want customers for life. That is why we ask tire questions. It’s good for you in the long run, not unlike the vegetables your mother made you finish before you got dessert!