Costco occasionally sends out Passport to Savings, which are glorified coupon books for their warehouses. One of the most important things about this book is if it lists a sale on tires -- a frequent event. Buying tires at Costco typically costs a little more than a straight purchase from TireRack.com, but after you factor in installation and disposal of old tires (at around $20 total per tire), many times the higher price is justified for the perks. During one sale, you can save $60 on the purchase of 4 Michelin tires, which for some tires can mean "Buy 3, get 1 free."
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Why did I buy my tires from Costco?
- Lifetime warranty replacement – If for any reason your tire goes flat, Costco will attempt to repair the tire or give you credit for the percentage of tread that remains. If it goes flat and the tire is pretty close to full tread, they just replace it for free. My girlfriend’s Celica had what appeared like an intentionally slashed tire (she was driving on the NJ Turnpike in reality) and Costco replaced the tire free of charge. They're not supposed to fix intentional problems but they let it slide – it’s pretty subjective I think.
- Lifetime rotation & balancing – If you figure a rotation and balance at around $15, you can actually stop being a cheapskate and rotate your tires on schedule. The only pain is waiting for the service to be completed, which is quick if you arrive early morning on a weekday.
- Inflation with nitrogen – They use nitrogen which is supposed to keep pressure better than air with changing temperatures. It’s supposed to also stay inflated better. I don’t necessarily believe the hype but whatever. They also inflate to optimal pressures when they rotate and balance. WARNING: That’s why your tires have green inflation tube caps; you cannot put in regular air at the gas station!
The lifetime warranty is the primary reason why I pay the premium to get the tires installed at Costco. If you decide to use Costco, call ahead to make sure the tires are in stock. If they aren’t, all you need is your membership card and a deposit and they will order the tires in. Shipping is free and they usually arrive within seven to ten days. If you don’t happen to have the coupon, they have copies at the register and will probably scan it for you since, in theory since you are a Costco cardholder, you should’ve received it anyway (just tell them you forgot it).
I know of friends who get tires shipped to NTB or a local service station to get them installed, but I don’t believe many of those have the warranty like Costco.
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