Thursday, January 15, 2009

Buying Tires

I’m not very knowledgeable about buying tires. In fact, I dread anything to do with auto-related purchases. I always feel taken advantage of since I’m a single woman. Also, I used to buy a new car every couple of years back in my wealthy past so no new tires were needed, but those days are gone forever. I now have a Saturn Vue that I’ve been driving since the summer of 2003.

I drove on the original set of tires that came with the car for 3 and a half years and finally got new tires in December of 2006. They were a size larger than the car originally came with and it felt a lot sturdier to have those larger tires on. The new tires lasted just about exactly 2 years. Lately they’ve been dying one by one. So last September I bought one new tire and in October I bought a second new tire. I crossed my fingers and hoped we could get through the holidays without having to buy the final 2 tires.

In November I had a coupon for an oil change at Ramon Tires in Rancho Mirage. They told me that I had 2 good tires and two bad tires (duh). Unfortunately one of the new tires was the wrong size!!! This led to a lot of panic with trying to figure out who sold me the wrong sized tire and why didn’t they know any better. They warned me about how evil it was to have two different sized tires on my car (“like walking with one high heel and one sneaker on”) and how it would throw everything out of alignment.

Since my boyfriend Phil was visiting after Christmas I took him with me back to Ramon Tires and asked how cheaply I could get out of this mess. They gave me a quote for 4 new tires at the price of $749.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 new tires when I already had, at their admission, 2 perfect practically new ones!

I came to the conclusion that having a man along was having it's ups and downs. Clearly I must look like a wealthy snowbird (a visiting tourist) but now I also looked like I had a husband and price was no object. Phil told me that he didn’t think it was that big a deal to have two different sized tires. If one was taller than they other, perhaps they could let a little air out of one tire so it was the same size as the other? I like how he thinks!

I went by COSTCO and looked at their tires. Phil pointed out that they only carried high end tires … specifically Michelins, which I couldn’t afford. A friend advised me to get out of Palm Desert and buy my tires in the less affluent areas of the Coachella Valley, like Cathedral City or Indio.

So I dropped Phil off at the golf course and went to Discount Tires in Cathedral City (my usual haunt) and the guy there said that the 2 good tires were exactly the same size. They were just different brands so the numbers were different but they translated to the same size. Hah, take THAT Ramon Tires!

He quoted me a really good price for 2 more tires and we had a deal! By the time Phil finished his 18 holes I was driving around with 4 good tires!!!!!!! *phew* Now I don’t have to go through this again for another couple of years.

Lesson learned - buy all 4 tires at once, a matched set.

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