Buying Tires Online can be a Ripoff: Beware

Buying Tires Online can be a Ripoff: Beware

Are you looking to get ripped off? Then look at tire prices online. 10+ years ago, I needed 4 new low-profile tires so I looked around online and was able to negotiate the local guy’s price down by over 30% just by mentioning the online price of a cheaper competitor. I need a new tire for my current car, so I looked to see what kind of variation I might find in pricing. Wow. There are also regional differences. See the screenshots from a week ago, looking for Pirelli 275/30/21 PZero tires (98Y) below:

One of the top search results on Google pointed me to 1010 Tires, which is excited to charge $649.99.  They’re Canadian and say “We do not match prices with our U.S. competitors. As we are a Canadian online retailer, we have a different price structure than our U.S. counterparts. Some of the products that we sell may be cheaper than in the U.S., while others may be more expensive.”

TireRack quotes $493 per tire.

Wow! DiscountTire tells me $834 for these tires (though in fairness these may be the slightly more expense run-flat option).

Pep Boys unfortunately don’t stock this tire… so they escape judgment!

Amazon has the best price here: $421.80 and they stock the tire directly themselves, not via a third party. Who knew they now sell tires? Not me, till now.

Same website, two different prices based on where I used to live (Redwood City area) vs. now in Boulder, Colorado, and $680.95 vs. $786.99 for the SAME tire. I have no idea why there would be such a big difference. Not sure if it has something to do with this: Colorado houses 40% of the country’s used tires? But really!?

The next one, a local store – won’t give pricing on the website and instead tells me to call them. They don’t have call waiting, the line is busy. It’s 2014, remember. #Fail

I looked on the Pirelli Website to find local authorized dealers (that’s how I came up with our phone-challenged, web-challenged friends above), and they among a few mentioned Sears as an authorized dealer. Unfortunately, Sears doesn’t seem to have received that memo – couldn’t find ANY Pirelli tires there…

Thanks Pirelli and Sears! And of course, I called the Audi dealer here in Boulder who quoted me $545 (which is at least $100 more than I got the same tire from the Audi dealer in Palo Alto a few months ago, so perhaps there’s a general $100 “Colorado price adjustment” materializing?).

How many seeming commodity products have such a variation in prices? Beware if you’re looking for tires…

Image: Kenneth D. Lyons, The Denver Post