Why I Buy Tires Online and You Should Too

I buy my tires online in order to conveniently get the exact size and model I want. Saving money is secondary and maybe I’m not even saving. Let me explain why it’s so important to get the exact model you want and how to pick a model to buy:

Tires vary tremendously in their performance. And there is no way you can tell which tires perform the way you want without the benefit of scientific testing. You can’t tell by looking. You can’t tell by brand name (Goodyear makes some great tires and some not great tires, and same for every other brand). And for most performance characteristics, you can’t rely on word-of-mouth or online reviews by consumers. Sure, I’ll take my neighbor’s word for it on the question of road noise and tread life (how long it lasts) if he has put 100,000 miles on his tires, but his unscientific impression of stopping distance? No. How many panic stops from 60 mph has he made? And did he get out and measure his stopping distance afterward and compare it to similar objective measurements of other tires? Impossible. Same for snow traction, cornering, rolling resistance (effect of the tire on miles-per-gallon of gas) and ice traction.

As far as I know, only Consumer Reports does scientific testing, comparing a wide range of tire models, and reporting results in a structured, easy-to-compare manner. So, I go to ConsumerReports.com, log in (costs me a few dollars a year but I could do this for free through my town library account), and read the test reports. From this easy research I decide on a specific brand and model. I bold-faced “and model” to emphasize the point that you cannot go by brand alone. Then, rather than scouring the whole Boston Metro area for a tire dealer who sells that model in the size I need, I just order the tires online and have my local mechanic mount and balance them. Most online tire outlets even have a little window where you enter the make and model of your car and they tell you what size you need. You can also get the size info off your existing tires or off the printed information plate attached to your driver door frame (open the driver’s door and you’ll see it).

There are many online sites that sell tires. I don’t buy tires all that often, and it seems from one year to the next the best place to buy changes. This most recent time, DiscountTireDirect.com gave me the best deal once you consider (continued next page)

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