Friday, December 5, 2008

Tires, Part II

Yesterday I wrote about discovering (in the snow) that my tires were bald last Friday.

I'd hurt my back later that night and did not feel like driving all over town to figure things out. I also didn't want to just walk into a random place and be at their mercy. So Saturday morning I camped out on the couch, armed with my phone and laptop. Another added bonus looking back is we save a lot of gas not driving around to get info.

This is probably a good time to say neither Gameboy nor I owned a car before 2006. His family never had a car. I drove my mom's car and occasionally took it in for service, but nothing major. As a woman and as a person who doesn't know much about cars I like to arm myself before dealing with mechanics.

First, I visited Single Ma. A while back she wrote about her last tire buying experience. She explained those mystical numbers on the sides of your tire.

Second stop, a list of the car repair shops within a few miles of out house. I thought up a few then called an oil change place for a few more recommendations. I made a list and called each place (4 total) asking what tires they had in stock (time was of the essence) in my size. I typed notes as I went along.

You know what's next-research! I googled the different tire names, checked out consumer reports, and then I found this gem. There were lots of reviews from customers in addition to little quizzes to help you make a decision. Keep in mind that they do sell tires.

With 2-3 favorites I made a second set of calls. I asked 3 important questions:
1- How much does each tire cost
2- What fees are charged (installation, disposal, balancing, etc)
3- Are there any specials/deals going on.

This information let me know how much I would be paying in total (well plus tax). Number 2 is really important because it can vary so much. Of the 4-5 places I called they ranged from $2.50-18.00 per tire.

Information in hand Gameboy and I conferenced about price and time. We chose a place that would be open on Sunday (it was getting late), had decent fees, and a total price that could work with our budget.

The next day we drove over, let them know what we wanted, and handed over the keys. The service guy handed me the estimate and after a quick review handed it right back. The price was $150 more than I had come up with based on the phone conversations. 2 warranties had appeared and the buy 3, get 1 free deal were not there. I let the guy know all of those things would not work for me and asked for a revised quote, based on reason and reality.

Two hours later my car was back to riding well. Good thing too, because our second storm of the season blew in Wednesday.

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