Few parts of your car are as important to safety, comfort, and fuel economy as your tires, which should be replaced approximately every 50,000 miles, 5 years, or when they begin to show excessive wear. But with new tires running between $60-$200 each plus installation, replacing four tires can give your wallet a serious whack. To save yourself some dough on tires, follow these tips.
Replace All Four at Once – It can be tempting to buy tires in pairs (front or rear) to save money, but you’ll pay more in the long run due to uneven tire wear.
Rotate Your Tires – Rotating your tires (swapping front for rear and left for right) every 10,000 miles ensures your tires wear as evenly as possible, extending their life. Rotating should take a tire shop about 10 minutes. If you can handle a jack and a lug wrench, you can also rotate your tires yourself.
Keep Your Car Aligned – Ever notice your car pulling to one side on the highway? You car is out of alignment. Most auto shops can do an alignment for less than $100 in 45 minutes or less, which will dramatically improve your tire’s tread life.
Shop Around – Most people take their cars to the local tire specialty store and plunk down top dollar for whatever the salesman recommends. You can easily find your car’s tire size on the side of your current tires – it should read something like 215/70/15 (tire width/aspect ratio/wheel diameter). Use that number to get competitive prices on different shops, and online.
You can save money buy shopping at TireRack.com, which will ship tires directly to you or a local installer. Even with shipping, such a service can save you bundles. While their installation and service may not be as speedy as other tire stores, wholesale clubs like Costco and BJ’s may also offer tires at bargain rates.
Sell Your Old Kicks – If you haven’t completely exhausted the tread on your old tires, you may be able to sell them on Craigslist (or at least give them away); otherwise, expect to pay between $2 and $5 per tire for an installer to dispose of the old rubber.