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3 Good Reasons to Buy Tires at Costco

Motley Fool - Sat May 27, 4:15AM CDT

A car tire on top of an orange background covered in jester caps

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Costco members have the option of buying tires from the Costco Tire Center. Aside from being uber convenient -- just schedule an appointment and shop while Costco services your car -- buying tires from Costco comes with some immense benefits that could give your budget some breathing room. Here are three good reasons you should consider Costco as your next favorite tire center.

1. Generally more affordable prices

I say "generally," because Costco doesn't always have the cheapest tires, especially when other tire shops -- like Walmart and Tire Rack -- offer promotions. But when it offers discounts on sets of four, Costco's tires can fall well below the average price range for that particular set.

For example, here's how Costco's prices compare to Tire Rack and Walmart for a set of four Bridgestone Potenza RE980S+, a common set that fits a 2023 Toyota Camry (also included are the estimated installation fees):

Tire shop(4) Bridgestone Potenza tires + installation (disposal fee and taxes not included)
Costco$755.92 ($168.99/tire + $79.96 for installation)
Tire Rack$775.96 ($168.99/tire + estimated $100 for installation)
Walmart$848.84 ($195.21/tire +$17/tire for installation)
Data source: Costco, Tire Rack, Walmart.

Note: if your state charges a disposal fee, these estimates would be slightly higher.

Without a discount, Costco and Tire Rack are very close in price, while Walmart is significantly more expensive. This is not typical (Walmart's tires are usually on par with Costco) and may reflect an old listing price, as Walmart currently doesn't have these tires in stock.

But when Costco offers discounts on tires, you could save $100 off the sticker price. For example, between April 12 and May 16, Costco teamed up with Michelin to offer a whopping $150 off any set of four Michelin tires. With that discount applied, here's how Costco's prices compared for a set of four Michelin Pilot Sport All Seasons tires:

Tire shop(4) Michelin Pilot Sport All Season tires + installation (disposal fee and taxes not included)
Costco$673.92 ($185.99/tire + $79.96 for installation)
Tire Rack$943.96 ($185.99/tire + estimated $200 for installation)
Walmart$811.96 ($185.99/tire +$17/tire for installation)
Data source: Costco, Tire Rack, Walmart.

Again, without the $150 discount, Costco's tires would be on par with its competitors. But the discount makes Costco's tires about as cheap as you'll likely get them -- roughly $138 cheaper than Walmart and a whopping $270 cheaper than Tire Rack.

But even if prices are equal with its competitors, Costco's extra benefits might make its tires the better value for your personal finances. And that leads us to my next point…

2. Free roadside hazard warranty + lifetime maintenance

Costco offers a free 5-year roadside hazard warranty for most of its tires (some heavy truck tires may not qualify).

Under the 5-year roadside hazard warranty, Costco will repair your tires if they're damaged by cuts, punctures, or other impact incurred during legal vehicle operation (i.e., you're not racing). The warranty also lets you exchange your tires for a credit, which you can apply toward a new set. The credit is calculated on how much usable tread is left multiplied by the price you paid for the tires.

If you choose the installation package ($19.99 per tire), Costco will also give you lifetime maintenance service for each tire. These services include tire rotations, air pressure checks, rubber valve stem replacements, and balancing.

For comparison, Walmart also offers these services, but they'll cost you slightly more. Walmart's installation package (roughly $17 per tire) includes valve stem replacements, balancing, and lifetime rotations every 7,500 miles. But you'll pay roughly $10 per tire for a road hazard warranty. That comes out to $108 for both packages -- roughly $28 more than Costco.

3. Not just air -- nitrogen

Finally, Costco fills tires with nitrogen, not air. This can slow down the rate at which your tires lose pressure and could potentially boost your gas mileage. Tire shops typically charge between $3 and $10 to fill tires with nitrogen, another cost to consider when comparing Costco to competitors.

Should you buy tires at Costco?

If you're a Costco member, I would recommend comparing Costco's tires with other retailers, like Walmart, Tire Rack, BJ's, and Sam's Club, to see who has the best price. But when Costco offers a discount on tires -- like the $150 discount example mentioned above -- there's no competition: your savings can more than pay for a Costco membership itself, sometimes even as much as a Costco Executive Membership.

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