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Costco - Your Tire Discounter!
I recently purchased a set of Michelin X Radial Tires, from Costco Tires. I'm about to tell you why, and why you should consider Costco when you need tires.
I’ve purchased tires from a lot of place including Discount Tires, Big O Tires, TireRack Online, but I had not really thought about going to Costco even though I’m a member. The main reason is because each time I get new tires I usually get a Wheel Alignment and Costco doesn’t do alignments.
But this time was different because I was in a real bind. What happened is I blew out a tire due to a road hazard. I don’t drive much compared to most people and my tires had less than 30,000 miles on them. They were by no means worn out. However they were just over 5 years old, and that is when the warranty ended. So there I was with 1 bad tire and 3 half worn tires and no warranty!
FYI – the reason why most tire warranties end at 5 years even if you don’t have many miles is due to the rubber compounds in the tires wearing out from UV Light and other factors related to age. Michelin, I believe, may warranty their tires for 6 years depending on the model.
So I suddenly needed new tires and I began shopping. First I went to Big O and got a quote of $260 plus installation which was about $15 per tire. I have relatively small rims at 14”and that seemed like a lot to me for their cheapest tire. Keeping in mind I want a good tire, but because I don’t drive much there would be no point in buying the best as in another 5 years they would be off warranty but not worn out.
My next stop was a local Discount Tires. No impressed. Not much more to say about them. And they also don’t do alignments so whets the point? You might as well go to Costco because the service warranty is better and it’s so much more convenient.
I then started my research at TireRack. I have purchased from TireRack Online before, not because I was trying to save money, but because my old car used a tire size that no one else had at the time. I know that sounds crazy, but it happens. TireRack is a great place to research and learn about tires. They carry a wide selection of tires from 18 different manufacturers including BF Goodrich, Bridgestone, Continental, Firestone, Kumho, Michelin, Pirelli, Uniroyal and Yokohama. Good selection, good prices. And they ship direct to you UPS. The main problem is you then have to find a shop to mount the tires. After finding a nice Kumho tire that fit my car, I added on the $40 shipping (Not bad as the warehouse is in Reno), and cost to get mounted it just didn’t make sense to go that route. If you are looking for really high end tires maybe it does? Plus after my recent experience with the road hazard I wanted to be sure I had local service without a hassle.
So off to the Costco Tire Center I went! Unfortunately for me they once again didn’t have my size in stock and I would have to wait a few days. But the good news was Costco was running a $70 off coupon special. I found out about the offer through the weekly emails I get because I purchase from Costco Online. The bottom line is I ended up buying Michelin X Radials completely installed with road hearer, free rotations and balancing, for almost exactly $300. That was actually cheaper than the Cheapo Big O Tires! And it was nice to be able to just show up without and appointment, complete my shopping, and have my car ready when I was done. No wasted time. The trick to this kind of service is to go in the morning on a weekday. Sometimes the Tire Center at Costco can get really busy and the time to wait can be much longer. My tires took about an hour.
About Costco Tires
Costco uses Nitrogen to fill your tires. Nitrogen is more stable (heat tolerant) than Oxygen and is a larger molecule which allows less Nitrogen to escape (The reason that O2, despite a larger MW 32, has a smaller diameter than N2 MW 28, lies in the electronic structure of the molecules. O2 "permeates" approximately 3-4 times faster than does N2 through a typical rubber, as is used in tires, primarily because O2 has a slightly smaller effective molecular size than does N2.). This means your tires stay inflated at the correct levels longer. Plus Costco will inflate your tires for free if you purchase from them. I asked for black caps, if you don’t you might get green caps, and that might not look great with your car. Nitrogen does not attract water so there is less chance for rust and corrosion. Nitrogen tires also supposedly help your tires run at cooler temperatures. So there is really no downside. And yes you can inflate your tires with air at home if you want, but why bother just have Costco do it for you while you are shopping when you need it. And in case you didn’t already know this the air you breathe is 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and 1% other gasses.
Costco Only Sells 2 Brands of Tires – BF Goodrich and Michelin. In 1988 BF Goodrich actually got out of the tire business and sold their brand name to Michelin. I’m not 100% sure if they are totally owned by Michelin still, but it makes sense. Costco Michelin Tires are “Club Tires”… this means that you can not compare the models sold at Costco to other Models of Michelin because the “Club Tires” are manufactured specifically for Costco. What you can do however is go to TireRack and compare the Costco Specifications to the other Michelin Tires. In my case the Michelin Harmony is almost an exact match.
Costco Lifetime Replacement Warranty – Okay I’ve read a few people complaining about Costco dropping the ball on warranty. But the truth is almost everyone who complained did not comply with the warranty terms. If you do what Costco asks you to do – come in for scheduled maintenance (Rotations, Balancing) you’ll get the warranty you expect. The Warranty is pro-rated. This means if you blow a tire at 20,000 miles and you have a 70,000 mile tire you will have used 2/7th’s of the warranty and will be expected to pay for it. You will be offered a replacement tire at 5/7th’s of the retail cost. Prorating is a very common practice in the Tire Industry. Also if you blow a tire and do not take it to Costco for repair Costco will not reimburse you. Flat Repair is free.
Lifetime Rotation and Balancing – This is a great deal! I’ve seen tire stores advertise up to $40 to rotate and rebalance tires. Costco offers a great deal so be sure to take advantage of this offer. Don’t skip it – do it! It’s no big deal just have them do the service while you shop!
Bottom Line is Costco Offers a very competitive price on very good tires (Especially if you shop during the promotional offers). I just wish Costco did wheel alignments!
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