Some experts say fall is the best time of year to find deals on tires, while some say spring has the best deals. The truth is you can find deals year-round if you know where to look.
Tires can cost anywhere between $70 and $350 each, and possibly more for specialty models, which can add up if you need to replace all four. More importantly, tires are a crucial component to your car's safety, so quality and durability should be factors in your buying decisions.
Good quality, well-maintained tires can also help to keep other car maintenance costs in check. In reality, the best time to find tires is before you need them—and when you can shop around to find the best deal.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire manufacturers often recommend drivers buy new tires after six to 10 years. For the most accurate guidance, keep an eye on the tire pressure and monitor according to your specific car make and model.
Buy Tires Before You Need Them
If you are caught on the side of the road with a flat tire, you might be desperate enough to pay any price to get on the road again. It's always a good idea to have a spare tire in your vehicle in case of emergencies, and to know whom you can call to get it changed.
Not every tire blow-out can be prevented, but there are many steps you can take to minimize the potential for damage in the first place. Learn how to inspect the tread, ensure your tires are properly inflated, and take your vehicle in for a regular car alignment. You should also take advantage of the complimentary tire checks often included with oil changes and other standard vehicle maintenance bundles to be sure that your tires are in good condition.
Well-maintained tires not only last longer, but they also help you save on gas. Underinflated tires can reduce gas mileage by nearly 4%. This may seem extreme, but the physics is simple: Your engine is constantly working against road friction and rolling resistance, and keeping your tires inflated at the proper pressure makes for less drag, and therefore a more efficient ride.
Best Time to Buy Tires for Winter
In many places, winter brings a host of weather events that can lead to tough driving conditions. Rain, snow, hail, ice, and even strong winds can make driving difficult, or even frightening, and you don't want to be caught on the road in inclement weather with bad tires.
Make sure you check your tires and ensure they are in good condition well before the season changes. If you need new ones, it's better to beat the rush of last-minute shoppers, both for your wallet and your peace of mind during the shopping experience. If you wait too long, the tires you want (and the most reasonably priced ones) might have been purchased already.
For most areas, all-season tires are more than sufficient. But if you live in a city where icy roads are common during the colder months, or in a rural area where snow is often left unplowed in parts of town, you should consider buying special winter or snow tires. These tires are designed to grip slippery roads to prevent sliding in a way that could lead to an accident. Just be aware that specialty winter tires wear through quickly, so be sure to check them frequently.
Ask About the Extras
Getting the best price on tires requires knowing how the game is played. As with many other large purchases, like buying or maintaining a vehicle, there are frequently extra costs not included in the sticker price.
Remember that unless you're a trained mechanic, once you buy the tires themselves, you'll need to pay someone to mount and install them correctly, balance them, and properly dispose of your old tires. You'll also have to pay any state and local taxes. If you're shopping in person, mechanics may also suggest other parts or services you may need, along with various warranties.
It pays to have a good relationship with a reputable mechanic whom you know and trust. They can assure you that you're getting a good deal on the service your car needs, and can recommend local and online options for reasonably priced tires.
Try Shopping for Tires Online
You can find almost anything online these days, including tires. You can find great deals from traditional tire manufacturers like Goodyear or at online marketplaces like Tire Rack, Discount Tire Direct, and Online Tires. You can even buy tires on Amazon. Big-box general discount stores like Costco and Sam's Club feature online deals as well, especially if you're looking to buy a full set of tires. Keep in mind that you may have to pay for shipping, but you could end up saving on the cost per tire depending on where you live and what type of tires you need.
If you already purchased tires but find a better deal online for the same brand, ask the merchant if they offer price matching. Many online merchants tout customer-friendly price policies, and would rather honor a deal than suffer a return or a sales loss, so you may be able to get some money back.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the best time to buy tires is before you need them, while being mindful of good deals. Sales may happen in the fall before the winter sets in or on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or other sales-bonanza holidays. Keep an eye out for deals, rebates, or special coupons, and don’t be afraid to look online and comparison-shop.
Remember also that keeping your vehicle equipped with quality tires will prevent future costs due to poor tire maintenance, inefficient gas mileage, or even car accidents. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.