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 $50 to $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 direct from the auto shop.This price comparison focuses on seven nationwide chains that sell and install tires: Walmart, Sears, Sam's Club, Pep Boys, Discount Tire, Costco, and BJ's Wholesale Club. The winner offers not only an expansive set of services for a low price but also 24/7 roadside assistance for flat tires.
Best Price for Tire Installation: 7 Chains Face Off
At this 95-year-old parts and services chain with nearly 800 stores nationwide, installation costs about $23 a tire (about $90 for four). For customers who buy their tires from Pep Boys, installation comes with disposal of the old set, balancing, mounting, and a rebuilt TPMS kit for vehicles with a tire pressure monitoring system. All that comes at 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 lifetime tire rotation, a three-month warranty on alignment, and warranty options on the tires. The company's website lists coupons, discounts, and deals that may bring down the price.
Tire purchases at Sears can be paired with an installation package starting at $20 for each tire ($80 for four). This covers mounting, lifetime balancing and tire rotation, and a multi-point inspection. But there's an additional cost for some of the services included in other (often cheaper) packages, such as disposal of the old tires and a road hazard warranty, which covers tire failure under normal driving conditions. Customers typically get a replacement or prorated credit toward a new tire, depending how much tread was left on the flat.
Discount Tire and America's Tire locations (both owned by the same company) charge $16 for mounting each tire, or $64 for a set of four. The price includes lifetime balancing and rotation, flat repair, and air checks but not tire disposal, which is another $2 a tire. Installation on cars with a TPMS kit costs another $5 a set. Customers who buy tires there get a free road hazard warranty. A three-year certificate for repair, refund, or replacement based on the full value of the tire, regardless of wear, costs $9 to $30, depending on the price of the tire.
Despite a low installation fee of $12 a tire, Walmart's package is less generous than the top competitors, parking it in fourth place in this comparison. 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. A road hazard warranty costs another $10 for each tire. A limited warranty for treadwear is also available for certain tires.
Like other warehouse clubs, BJ's -- an East Coast operation with more than 210 clubs in 15 states from Maine to Florida -- offers members auto services and a variety of tire brands for sale. The installation package costs $15 a tire and includes rotation, balancing, flat repairs, and inflation checks for life, as well as a road hazard warranty.
Costco members can buy tires at a warehouse club location or online and have them shipped to a local store (shipping and handling included). The installation package is priced at $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. Buyers are also entitled to rotations over the tire's lifetime, inflation and pressure checks, flat repairs, and a road hazard warranty.
Sam's Club emerged the 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 tire rotation, flat repair, tire disposal, and road hazard protection. If the vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, drivers also get a free reset when the tires are serviced. 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.