You’re looking to save on tires so it’s as painless as possible — I get it. Nobody wakes up excited to drop a few hundos on rubber shoes for a vehicle.
Don’t worry about it, you’re in luck because between tire coupons, deals and price matching options, you can absolutely save money buying this necessary evil for your car. And to be fair, good tires will save you money in the long run because if they last, you’ll replace them less often. So, I guess I shouldn’t be so anti-tire shopping. And yet, here we are.
If you’re like me and you’d rather spend the money on a mini-getaway with friends or toward an extra house payment, here’s how to buy tires without feeling sick to your stomach.
1. First, determine what size of tires you need to purchase.
Any time you try and shop for tires online, you’ll be prompted to enter the details about your car, and you’ll probably need a rough idea of your tire size, since many cars have only a few options you can choose from.
Open your driver’s side car door and you’ll see a sticker that looks like the one above. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see “Front” and “Rear” tire sizes. My car is a Subaru Outback and my tire size is P225/60R17.
2. Next, pick a type of tire based on what your climate is like.
In order to decide what type of tire you want, you’ll need to look mostly at your local weather.
Three main categories of tires exist: all-season tires, winter tires or summer tires. Most people go with an all-season tire — that’s the simplest option and if you don’t live in an area with harsh winters, it’s definitely the way to go!
3. Do a tire comparison to find the most affordable tires near you.
To figure out who has the tires that fit your needs and budget, you’ll need to compare prices across multiple stores.
I compared Michelin Defender T+H because it’s an all-season tire and it’s one of the few tires Costco sells. I wanted to include Costco in my comparison, so it got to be the boss of which tire I chose. This price doesn’t include installation, it’s just the cost of the tires.
Sam’s Club came out the cheapest at $651.96 for a set of four tires. Most expensive was Costco at $675.96.
You can find cheaper tires than this and you can find them more expensive. It’s totally your call here.
4. Walmart Tire Center offers the cheapest price on installation across the board.
You’re just not going to beat $15 per tire for installation. Costco, Sam’s Club and Discount Tire all hover around the $20 per tire mark. All things being equal, Walmart wins on installation cost.
5. …Unless Costco Tires offers a deal, in which case, they win all.
Here’s where it gets tricky. You can’t just compare straight prices when you’re tire shopping. You also have to compare deals.
At the time of this writing, Costco is offering $70 + 50% off installation (a $40 value) on a set of four Michelin tires. This brings the price of our four Michelin Defender T+H tires down to $605.95 — beating Sam’s Club’s price by $70, since Sam’s Club isn’t offering a deal.
Discount Tire is offering up to 10% off Michelin Tires, but it’s only $66 savings, plus Costco offers that 50% off installation bit, bringing a Costco installation down to just $10 per tire, shoving Walmart off the throne for cheapest installation price for a minute.
So, you could walk away paying $645.95 for four Costco tires, installed. Compare this to paying $719.96 (tires, plus installation) at Walmart or $731.96 at Sam’s Club.
6. Be the first in line when Costco offers a new tire deal.
If you’re in the market for tires, start watching Costco like a hawk. Why? The tires included in their promos sell out so fast.
Sign up to receive Costco emails so you’re the first to know when there’s a deal on tires.
7. Or just go to Discount Tire for a price match — even on a sale price!
Discount Tire is so serious about being the lowest-price option that they’ll match any other price for tires or installation, and they’ll give you the same price you could have gotten during a sale at Costco.
Hold your horses because this is cool — if Costco is offering “$70 off, plus 50% off installation” on select Michelin tires, and Discount Tire also sells that tire, you can get that same price at Discount Tire.
So if you miss out on Costco’s deal because they ran out of stock, just show Discount Tire Costco’s offer (website is fine) and you’ll get that deal anyway.
TIP: Sam’s Club also offers price matching on tires. But they won’t honor a Costco promotion — they’ll only match another store’s lower, regular prices.
8. You won’t pay extra for a Road Hazard Warranty at Costco or Sam’s Club Tires.
A Road Hazard Warranty is different from a manufacturer warranty. Where a manufacturer warranty covers only manufacturer defects, a Road Hazard Warranty covers the other stuff like if you accidentally run over a nail, a piece of glass or pop a tire because you hit debris in the road.
At Walmart, you’ll pay an extra $10 per tire and you’ll get the coverage Costco offers for the first 25% wear of your tire. This means if your tires are 25% worn down (or less), you’ll receive a replacement if Walmart can’t fix your tire — how many years you’ve had the tires doesn’t matter.
At Discount Tire, you can add a Certificate for Repair, Refund or Replacement for $23 when you buy tires. This warranty covers both road hazards and manufacturer defects — Discount Tire doesn’t care why the tire needs repair.
One thing to watch out for — Discount Tire offers “flat tire repair” with their installation, but this is different from a Road Hazard Warranty where you can get a tire replaced if it’s unfixable for any reason. With “flat tire repair,” they do care how the tire got flat. Slow leaks are covered, but “Flat tire repair” is more like if your tire has a slow leak. If you want tire repair for any reason, make sure you get a Road Hazard Warranty.
9. Buying tires aside, can we pause and be amazed that Sam’s Club members get free flat tire service?
It’s true — you don’t even have to buy tires at Sam’s Club to get free flat tire service! It’s included in your Sam’s Club membership.
10. Buy tires online at TireRack.com — they’ve got loads of coupons.
TireRack.com offers coupons and promotions from multiple manufacturers. You’ll have to buy through TireRack to get the deals, but if you can’t find a deal anywhere else, check it out before you pay full price! Here are some offers I’ve seen:
- Get up to a $70 back on a set of four Bridgestone tires. The rebate will come in the form of a prepaid Visa card.
- Get up to $100 back on a set of four Goodyear tires — rebate is in the form of a prepaid Mastercard.
- Get up to $100 back on a set of four Cooper tires. You’ll receive a Cooper prepaid Visa or you can choose a Visa virtual account instead.
11. If you do buy cheap tires online, you can still get Walmart’s cheap installation price.
Let’s say you found a sweet deal using a rebate or a coupon on tires from TireRack.com. Sure, TireRack.com will ship your tires to one of their recommended installers near you, but they’re all smaller tire shops and you’ll pay more for installation (upwards of $27 per tire at Commercial Tire or Firestone, both examples of TireRack installers).
Instead, get the tires shipped to you and have Walmart install them for $15 per tire, the same price you’d pay if you bought tires from Walmart.
In addition to getting a deal on the tires, you’ll save around $50 total on installation.
12. Look for rebates and tire coupons at tire manufacturer websites.
Manufacturers like Goodyear.com, Michelin.com, BFGoodrichTires.com and others offer promotions directly on their websites. Check to see if any of these promotions beat tire prices at a retailer like Sam’s Club.
13. Buy in the fall when you see Black Friday tire deals.
Black Friday is a great time to buy tires, as many retailers offer a better deal than anything you’d see the rest of the year. If you can wait to buy during this time, do it.
Here’s what I saw during Black Friday 2019:
- Sam’s Club: Get up to $140 off a set of four tires
- Walmart: Get up to $103 off a set of four Goodyear Wrangler tires
- Costco: Save $70 on a set of four Bridgestone tires and get free installation
- Discount Tire: Get up to $75 off a set of four tires, plus receive a 15% rebate in the form of a prepaid Mastercard.
14. Believe it or not, you can find tire coupon codes at Coupons.com.
Coupons.com isn’t just for Tide and Crest!
Enter “tires” in the coupon code search bar on Coupons.com and choose a retailer. For example, when I select “Tire Rack,” I see promo codes and offers that I can use to buy tires at TireRack.com.
Don’t scroll up! Here are the articles I mentioned: