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Tire Installation Cost Comparison: What is the Best Place to Get New Tires?
Shopping around for the best deal on dependable, quality tires isn't as simple as comparing advertised prices. Most do not include installation, which can easily add from $50 to more than $100 to the "out the door" cost of new tires. Some vendors include services such as disposal of the old tires, while others charge extra and try to upsell consumers. Watch out for shipping fees from online sellers such as Tire Rack, where prices quoted by local installers vary widely and may not include services or guarantees offered to customers who buy directly from the auto shop.
This price comparison focuses on eight nationwide chains that sell and install tires: Walmart; Sears; Sam's Club; Pep Boys; Discount Tire/America's Tire; NTB/Tire King/Merchant's/Big O; Costco; and BJ's. Our winner offers not only an expansive set of services for a low price, but also 24/7 roadside assistance for flat tires -- nice peace of mind for drivers who don't already belong to a roadside service club.
At Sears, we were quoted $22 per tire for an installation package that covers mounting, valve stems, lifetime balancing and tire rotation, and a multi-point inspection. But there's also an additional cost for services sometimes included in competitors' cheaper packages, such as $3 per tire for disposal, $44 for a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) kit, and $77 for a road hazard warranty that covers tire failure under normal driving conditions.
NTB, Tire Kingdom, Merchant's Tire, and Big O Tires are owned by the same company, and there are more than 1,200 locations in 41 states. At NTB, we were quoted $16.99 per tire for basic installation, which includes mounting, one-time balancing, free lifetime rotation, and valve stems. But if a TPMS kit is needed, the price jumps to about $25 per tire. Disposal, often included at other tire shops, is an extra $3 per tire. If you want a road hazard warranty, that's an extra $60, and lifetime balancing is another $32.
This parts and services chain says installation can cost as little as $15.73 per tire. However, it's worth noting that we priced out different tires for common vehicles and were quoted around $28 per tire for installation each time. Installation does include disposal, balancing, mounting, and a TPMS kit for vehicles with a tire pressure monitoring system. (All that comes at an added cost if tires are brought in for installation from another seller -- $10 for disposal, $10 for the kit, and $15 for mounting and balancing.) Buying tires onsite also comes with one year of roadside assistance, a courtesy vehicle inspection, free lifetime rotations and air-pressure checks, and a treadwear mileage warranty.
Discount Tire and America's Tire locations, both owned by the same company, charge $16 for mounting each tire. The price includes lifetime balancing but not tire disposal, which adds another $2.50 a tire. Installation on cars with a TPMS kit costs another $5 a set. However, air-pressure checks are free for everyone, while lifetime rotation and balance are free for customers who buy their tires here. Road hazard coverage is also included with tire purchase, a nice bonus.
Despite a low installation fee of $12 a tire, Walmart's package is less generous than our top tire shops. It includes mounting, valve stems, and lifetime balance and rotation every 7,500 miles, plus tightening of the lug nuts after the first 50 miles. You'll pay an additional $10 per tire for installation if you didn't purchase your tires directly from Walmart. If you want a road hazard warranty thrown in, installation jumps to $22 a tire. Disposal, quoted by our local store, is an extra $1.50 per tire. TPMS kits are also extra, and Walmart says costs will vary according to the make and model of the vehicle.
BJ's, a warehouse club with more than 210 clubs concentrated along the East Coast, offers members auto services and a variety of tire brands for sale. The installation package costs $15 a tire and includes lifetime rotation, balancing, flat repairs, and inflation checks, as well as a road hazard warranty. Disposal is free, but TPMS kits may add up to around $4 per tire, according to a local club. BJ's will not install tires purchased elsewhere.
Costco members can buy tires at a warehouse club location or online and have them shipped to a local store, shipping and handling included. Installation costs $15 a tire and includes mounting, new rubber valve stems, nitrogen tire inflation (which helps maintain better pressure than compressed air), and old tire disposal. Cars with TPMS systems face an additional $3 service charge per tire. Buyers are entitled to rotations over the tire's lifetime, inflation and pressure checks, flat repairs, and a five-year road hazard warranty.
Sam's Club is our winner for its rich array of included services, coupled with attractive pricing for club members. A $15 tire installation package includes mounting, new valve stems, lifetime balancing and rotation, lifetime flat repair, tire disposal, and road hazard protection. If the vehicle is equipped with TPMS, drivers also get a free reset when the tires are serviced, though a replacement TPMS kit would be extra. But the star attraction of the Sam's Club package is 24/7 roadside tire-change service, available for three years after the date of purchase.