Ultimate Guide Saving Money When Buying Tires (20+ Tips)

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Updated December 2, 2022

Are you looking to save money on your next tire purchase? Great, you’re in the right place!

In this WeReviewTires.com guide you’ll learn:

  • How to pick the correct tire or your needs
  • How “take off” tires could save you big $$$
  • Online vs offline to save on tires

With 9+ years working with (and selling) tires, I know a thing or two on how to score the best deal on a set of tires.

how to save money on tires

Table of Contents

Tire prices are higher than ever, and when you add that to the increased labor wages, you get a much more expensive set of tires.

While I can’t tell you how to reduce tire prices to the same as they were two to three years ago, I can tell you all the tips I know to save you as much cash as possible.

Keep reading to learn how to pick your next set of tires and save money.

What Kind Of Tires Are Best For You?

With so many different categories of tires, it can be challenging to choose what is best. It will mainly be based on what kind of driving you do. Below I have listed all the main categories of tires you will find and how each one could be best for you.

All-Season

All-season tires come in many forms, from high-performance to touring. They are the most common on the market as they provide safe traction in wet, dry, ice, and snow. If you are driving in these conditions, you will find which type of all-season is best for you below.

Touring Tires 

Offer longer tread life and a more comfortable ride, traction in winter climate is decreased. Typically will have a symmetric tread design for optimal tread wear and are made in sizes with taller sidewalls.

Popular fitments for this category include Toyota Corollas/Camrys, Honda Accords/Civics, Hyundai Sonatas/Elantras, and VW Jettas/Passats

Performance Touring 

Very similar to a touring tire but offer a shorter tread life due to being designed to have better traction and handling in weather conditions. Safer traction in ice and snow than a touring. Found to manufactured in sizes that offer short to mid-profile sidewalls.

Popular fitments for this category include Toyota Camrys, Honda Accords, BMW 3 Series, VW Passats, Subaru Legacys, and Crossovers.

Performance/High-Performance All-Season

These will be the shortest tread life tires but offer the best handling and traction. If you need to drive like a maniac, these are the tires for you. All-season traction will be very similar to performance touring tires, with the exception of dry roads, where they perform the best. Mainly manufactured in low profile sizes to provide optimal handling.

Popular fitments include Audis A4, A5, A6, A7, Toyota Supra, Honda Civic Type-R, Ford Mustangs, Dodge Challengers, and BMW 4, 5, 6, and 7 series.

Highway Touring

These are made for SUVs and CUVs they are designed to offer long tread life and safe wet, dry, ice, and snow traction. You will find that they are the main category of tires for larger vehicles that see the road every day.

Popular fitments include Chevrolet Tahoes, Pickup Trucks, Toyota Sequoias, Nissan Pathfinders, Ford Explorers, and Dodge Durangos.

Summer Tires

There is a huge misconception about summer tires, and I want to address it. Just because they are named summer does not mean they can only be driven on dry roads. They actually offer the safest traction on wet roads. They are a two-season category tire which means they were built to perform the absolute best for wet and dry conditions. Since they don’t need to worry about performing in snow or ice, manufacturers can design them easily to cater to those two seasons.

All-Terrain

These are slowly becoming the most popular option out there due to being made in more sizes than ever and offering the safest traction regarding year-round weather. All terrains have superior traction in ice and snow, but they sacrifice traction in wet and dry stopping capability due to their larger tread blocks. Anyone who drives off-road frequently should equip their vehicle with a set. 

Popular fitments include Pickups, SUVs, Crossovers, CUVs, and even sedans. I have a set of all terrains on my 2011 Cadillac CTS and find them best for my needs of year-round traction.

Mud-Terrain

Purely designed for off-road use, you will find this category to have the worst traction on roads in wet, snowy, or icy road conditions. They use big aggressive tread blocks to make maneuvering through treacherous terrain a breeze. Anyone who is off-road all the time should have a set of these.

Winter Tires 

Anyone who has just moved to a region that receives heavy snowfall will surely need a set of winter tires. They are manufactured to perform in severely cold temperatures (below forty degrees) and have a vast amount of siping, allowing snow to pack in the tread. 

You may get away without winter tires if you have a set of all terrains with a three peak mountain snowflake rating. However, they still might not perform as safe as winter tires.

Does The Speed Rating Matter?

You will find a tire’s speed rating within the size description. EX. 22565R17 97V. The V is the speed rating.

The tire speed rating is a designation of how fast the tire can travel without suffering from a loss of performance. It matters greatly because if you put a lower speed rated tire than the car manufacturers recommend, you will notice your car not only handle very differently but also the tires will wear out much faster. 

Speed ratings go in alphabetical order from B to Y. B being the lowest speed a tire can travel and Y being the highest. If a tire salesman is trying to sell you a tire with a lower letter than your vehicle’s door placard states, do not buy them. You will Thank me later. 

Does The Load Index Matter?

Would you want a tire on your car that isn’t able to carry the weight of your vehicle? No? Me neither. 

The load index is a designation of how much weight the tire can carry and can be found within the tire size description. EX. 225/65R17 97V. The 97 is the load index rating. The higher the number, the more weight the tire can carry at maximum air pressure.

This is one of the most essential ratings on the tire because if you put a tire with a lower load index than the vehicle’s recommended rating, you are at risk of tire failure. 

Below I have attached a picture that explains where to find everything you need.

Do Tire Brands Actually Make A Difference?

Yes! When purchasing tires, the brand will correlate with the quality. Known name brands like Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental, and more will have a less likely chance of having defects. When you go with an off-brand tire, they will be cheaper for a reason: they have a lower quality manufacturing process. Off-brand tires are more prone to defects for this reason. 

Here is an example of a possible defect when purchasing off-brand tires. It has belt separation, which you can see by the bubble at the top of the tread.

Belt seperation on an off-brand tire.

Known Name Brand Manufacturers

Michelin, Continental, Bridgestone, Firestone, Goodyear, Toyo, Nitto, Hankook, Yokohama, Kumho, General Tire, Falken, Sumitomo, Pirelli, Nokian, Mickey Thompson, BFGoodrich, and Cooper Tires. 

How To Save Money At The Most Popular Online Shops?

Online shopping is becoming more popular every day. With it being much more convenient to stay at home, look at all your options and make your purchase from the comfort of your couch. Shopping online saves you time and money in gas since you won’t have to drive from tire shop to tire shop collecting quotes and then go home and compare them.

I have listed easy ways to save even more money from popular online tire retailers below.

TireRack.com

TireRack is the largest online tire retailer in the nation. They paved the way for online shopping of tires. TireRack offers to ship your product to a tire installer that they recommend and give you the installation rates up front so you can know what cost to expect to get them installed.

To find the best deals, you can scroll to the bottom of their website, and under special offers, you will find rebates. Rebates are a great way to save money as they offer up to $200 back on your purchase. I know everyone offers rebates, but retailers make them hard to find because they would much rather you pay full price, which is why I have listed where to find them.

DiscountTireDirect.com

Discount Tire Co is the world’s largest tire retailer. Discount Tire Direct is their online-only entity, and I find them sometimes to have even lower prices than their brick-and-mortar locations.  You will find them to have, for the most part, the lowest tire prices out there. They can charge less for their products by selling so many tires. 

To save the most money, utilize their financing. Not only will you get a deferred interest period, but they also offer instant savings when you use their financing. The most savings can be found by shopping at Discount Tire during major holidays (Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Forth Of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). They run their biggest specials of the year on these holidays.

Costco.com

The downside to shopping with Costco is you need to have their membership to take advantage of their exclusive pricing incentives. Costco does run some of the best instant rebates I have seen in the industry. They run up to $210 off instant on Michelin and Bridgestone, and it doesn’t get much better than that. If you can justify paying for their annual membership or already do, the savings on your tires alone pays for itself.

How To Save Money When Buying Tires Offline?

When purchasing tires in person, there are a few ways you can save money. I would argue there are more ways to save than shopping online. I have listed some ways to save below.

Ask If They Have Any “Take Off” Tires

When a customer purchases a set of tires and is unhappy with them, for whatever reason, retailers will often take them back and exchange them for new ones. Retailers have two options when they take off the old tires that still have darn near new tread. They can try to send them back to the manufacturer to get credit back or just take the loss and try to sell them as used.

Since they have already lost money on the exchanged tires, they will often put them in their used tire rack to resell them, but usually are an afterthought they forget about. So by asking them if they have any used take-offs, you not only will get a great deal on a pair or set of tires, but you also will get tires that have next to no use on them, practically still being brand new. 

On average, you can save two to three hundred dollars by using this tactic.

Here is an excellent example of used tires that you can find that have so much tread life left!

Auto mechanic man with electric screwdriver changing tire outside. Car service. Hands replace tires on wheels. Tire installation concept.

Ask If they Are Running Any Specials

Most tire retailers do not disclose any rebates or specials they are running because why would they want you to save money? They would rather you pay full price and go on with your day without extra savings.

Manufacturers, on average, run rebates every month, with an average tire being anywhere from fifty to a hundred dollars, which can sometimes cover the installation cost or knock twelve to twenty-five dollars off each tire. So simply asking your sales associates if they’re any specials can help you make your decision based on available savings.

Just Ask Nicely For A Discount!

I can’t really go into much depth about this one. All you have to do is ask, “Is it possible to lower the price at all?” 

You will often find the answer is no, but as the great Wayne Gretzky says, “ you miss %100 of the shots, you don’t take.” Who knows, you may get lucky, and someone newer might knock a few bucks off.  

Does Haggling Work To Save Money When Buying Tires?

I want to be completely honest and transparent when I tell you that haggling works based on your approach. You don’t want to walk in and act entitled to a discount. This approach will only ensure an uneasy tire purchase experience. 

It doesn’t matter if you have purchased hundreds of tires or no tires from a retailer. The best way to haggle is to be friendly and overall a pleasurable customer. One way to ensure you get no discount is to ask, “what is my price?” This is easily the best way to rub anyone the wrong way.

I found the best way to haggle is to be sincere and honest. “I want to go with the Michelin tires, but they are slightly out of my price range.” Saying this comes off sincere about how you are feeling and what you want. A salesman will often come back with, “well, what’s your budget,” and if your ask is within reason, they can make it work.

Badgering them on the price is a tiresome tactic that very rarely will get you a discount but will surely guarantee they won’t want to see you come back through their doors. If you are going to haggle, just make sure you are friendly, and most times, you will be rewarded for your efforts.

What Should You AVOID Paying For When Buying Tires?

Being Sold Tire Pressure Sensors

Often retailers will try to upsell you on accessories like tire pressure monitoring sensors. TPMS sensors are in all passenger vehicles manufactured after 2008, and their purpose is to give you a warning on the dash when a tire’s pressure suffers a twenty-five percent loss. If you require TPMS sensors purchase them online, they are much cheaper than what retailers charge.

Additional Warranties

Retailers will always try to sell you on their additional road hazard protection. While some retailers additional overage may be worth it, often, you pay for something that you will never get of value back. Most manufacturers offer road hazard protection with their tires. If you are considering paying for an extra warranty, I would advise you to get a full explanation of what your tires will come with before committing to additional warranties.

Alignment And Rotation Packages

If your tire retailer is trying to upsell you on an alignment or rotation package, walk out the door and go elsewhere. The alignment package I have seen sold offers a lifetime of tire wheel alignment. They don’t tell you that it will be next to impossible to get back in for these free services and have incredibly long wait times to get done. 

Time is money and the more time wasted on getting a wheel alignment you could have paid and got it done quickly.

Tire rotation packages are unreasonable as most retailers will offer a lifetime rotation and balance at no additional charge, so never pay extra for a rotation package.  

Can you Re-Tread Car Tires To Save Money?

No, unfortunately, car tires are not designed to be re-treaded. Re-tread tires also have a higher failure rate because they are prone to workmanship errors. If you find a set of re-treads, approach with extreme caution, as re-treading is not the safest and provides a rough ride.

You can tell if a tire has been re-treaded by looking at where the shoulder tread ends. You will notice almost a slice around the sidewall. 

Do More Expensive Tires Save Money?

This is an age-old debate. You can purchase a cheap set of tires that will last around forty thousand miles for three hundred bucks. Compare that to a set that is seven hundred bucks but will last about eighty thousand miles. 

You can buy two sets of cheap tires for less than the more expensive set. However, this will not account for inflation and time, so that cheap set of tires could go up in price or not be made anymore, forcing you to pay more for your next set. 

To answer this question, you must self-reflect and ask yourself if you’re willing to save money now to pay more later.

How To Save Money AFTER You’ve Put Your Tires On?

While everyone wants to save money on their initial purchase, most forget about how much money they can save after purchase. I’m talking about maintaining your tires.

Below you will find easy ways to avoid buying your next set faster than anticipated by ensuring your tires last as long as possible.

Tire Pressure

Checking your tire pressure only once a month will ensure that your tires wear evenly and don’t develop wear patterns that severely diminish a tire’s life. 

Regular Rotations

Rotating your tires every five to eight thousand miles will ensure that you don’t wear out two of the tires prematurely. On front-wheel drive cars, the front tires will wear faster, while on rear-wheel drive, they wear out faster on the rear. All-wheel drive cars’ front tires will wear out faster due to the weight displacement of the vehicle.

Wheel Alignment

It is recommended to have your wheel alignment checked once a year. Doing this will ensure that your tires do not suffer from uneven wear caused by the tire sitting at an incorrect angle.

Most people think your alignment will be thrown off by hitting a large object such as a curb or pothole. This is true, but all the little bumps you drive over will cause your alignment to be thrown off over time. I have seen tires that suffer from alignment wear be bald in as little as ten thousand miles. 

Here is a great in-depth video of how to easily maintain your tires!

Final Notes

I can’t tell you what tire is best for you, but I gave you all the necessary information to make a safe, educated decision. You need to think about the different tire categories and decide which fits your needs best. 

Whether shopping online or going into the store, you will surely save as much dough as possible if you follow all these tips.

Now that I have given you all this tire knowledge, it’s time to put it into action and find your tires while saving as much money as possible. 

Meet Your Tire Expert
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About The Author

Joe Steffen

Joe Steffen

Joseph Steffen is a trusted expert in the tire industry, with nine-plus years of experience. He has worked as a tire installer, tire salesman, and more recently a writer for various companies, providing honest feedback and advice to those who need it.

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