Is it cheaper to buy tyres online?

How to buy the best-value tyres

In a recent article, I discussed what you must know before buying tyres online. In this article, you’ll learn why online tyres may not be as cheap as you believe.

Do you really need new tyres?

We recently had a customer bring four new tyres to our tyre shop here in West Brisbane. He’d bought them online and wanted us to switch them for the ones on his vehicle. You can imagine his disappointment when we asked him why he wanted them switched.

You see, he didn’t need new tyres, all he needed was to rotate the original tyres. They’d probably be good for at least another 20,000 km. He went away kicking himself, grumbling about the $400 he’d spent that he hadn’t needed to, and wondering where he was now going to store the new tyres he probably wouldn’t need for another 12 months.

When you buy tyres online, you don’t get advice. A computerised and scripted online service can’t:

  • Look at your tyres, making a visual assessment informed by years of experience
  • Run hands over them, feeling for those little nicks, bumps, and dents that need attention
  • Advise you that your tyres simply need realignment or rotation to last another 10,000 or 20,000 km

What an online service can do is put all the onus on you to buy the right tyres at the right time. Then send you to the checkout to pay.

Do you really save money when you buy tyres online?

Of course, the big draw of buying online is the money you might save. Those headline prices and 4-for-3 deals look like saving you enough cash for an evening out. But if you are buying sooner than you need to, like the customer we just mentioned, you’ll go through more tyres than you need. Over the long term, those 4-for-3 deals you rush to make before they expire could cost you.

It’s not simply the advice you’re not getting that could cost you more money when you buy online. You shouldn’t forget that when you buy tyres online, you should consider the cost of:

  • Shipping
  • Fitting, wheel alignment, and balancing
  • Charges associated with disposal of your old tyres

Once you’ve added in these costs, the savings (if there were really any in the first place) may be completely erased. You may even end up paying more for that super cheap online tyre deal!

No aftercare online

When you buy tyres online, you wave goodbye to aftercare. You can’t call an online tyre shop and have your tyres checked. You won’t get advice on rotation, alignment, balancing, or any of the other common problems that affect tyre life.

Beware of cheaper brands when you buy tyres online

Many of the cheapest tyre deals you’ll find online offer bargain tyres. Many of these cheaper tyres are manufactured in China. Are they really bargains?

A Consumer Reports study in the United States tested several Chinese tyre brands against leading tyre brands. One of those Chinese tyre brands was eventually discarded from the study because it performed so poorly in all road and weather conditions. But the major finding of the survey may surprise you even more.

These cheaper tyres travelled as little as a third of the distance that leading brands such as Michelin before needing to be replaced. You may need to buy three sets of cheap tyres to match the longevity of a leading brand. Those half-price tyres online don’t seem such a good investment after all.

Questions to ask before buying tyres online or in a tyre shop

Here are a few questions to ask before buying tyres:

  • You may have a tight budget, but can you really afford to risk buying the wrong tyres online?
  • Have you the experience to know whether your tyres really need replacing, or could they last a few thousand kilometres more?
  • Before you press that ‘Buy now’ button on your computer, have you factored in the costs of shipping and fitting?

Our advice is to always get advice when it comes to tyres. They are the only part of your vehicle that is in contact with the road. They play a major part in your safety and comfort.

For a professional and personal tyre service that you can trust, contact Darra Tyres today.

Keeping your family and fleet safe,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.