Costco Tires

Costco is an important option for many tire buyers in North America and is expanding to other countries, too. This article will examine the biggest pros and cons of choosing them as your tire source.

Costco Tires:  A boon or a boon-doggle?

Prior to comparing the pros and cons of Costco tires there’s some things that may help put the importance of this comparison into perspective and allows us to determine just how big Costco is when it comes to the world of tire sellers.

Let’s begin by noting that in a typical month some 39,350 people will look for "Costco Tires" on the internet.  As far as I could discover, no other tire retailer, big or small, has this number of people searching for them.

This led me to wonder, just how many tires does Costco sell a year?  That is not an easy question to answer, especially since Costco has not responded to our request to interview them for an article about their tire-selling business.  Yet, based on my own experience as a tire dealer, we can make some calculations that will at least give us a basis to estimate what level of sales we are likely to find.

Typical Costco StorefrontTake a look at any Costco Tire Centre and you will see that they typically have 4 to 5 service bays, but to be conservative let’s say that they all have 4 bays.  Now in North America (the USA and Canada) there are 686 Costco stores and I am assuming that they all have 4 tire service bays, for a total of 2744 lanes.  From my own business I can tell you that it simply isn’t reasonable to justify the investment and cost of running a single tire bay with less than an average of 100 tires sold per month.  So not we can project that —at the very least— Costco is selling 274,400 tires a month in North America, or 3,292,800 tires a year! 

That’s one big bunch of tires but, just to be sure this isn’t some kind of a pipe-dream let’s take a look at this from a different perspective. 

You may have noticed that one of the things that is most complained about is the amount of time it takes to Costco tires due to the line up of customers.  At a very conservative level it would take one hour for a technician to install 4 tires.  Allow just 8 hours a day for working  and that means that one service bay would install 32 tires, and if there are 4 bays in a store, that means 128 tires a day!  Compare that to my earlier minimum of 100 per month as being necessary to make a business work.  Using this level of 128 tires a day per store, annual sales of tires at all stores would be 31,610,880 tires a year.

What the exact number is, is anyone's guess but I think you can see that it not at all unrealistic to expect that it is somewhere between 3 and 30 million a year. And it doesn’t matter exactly what the figure is, Costco is one major tire seller!

This leads to my second point:  When I started looking at various links which come up after a search for "Costco tires" it would seem that, apart from Costco’s website, a very large number of listings all contain a considerable number of complaints about experiences which people have had buying tires from Costco.  As I already mentioned, one of those complaints is about the waiting times, but at this point I want to ask the question: 

"How much importance should one put on the seemingly large number of complaints which one reads?"

I haven't done a count of the number of complaints one might see if you wanted to read them all, but let’s be really negative and suppose that you could find 500.  I think you would have difficulty finding that number of complaints that were within the last 12 months, yet if you compare that to the smallest number of tires which we could expect Costco to have sold (3 million for easy calculation) we would have 1 for every 6000 tires.  To me, that doesn’t seem like a very large risk to be taking for the purchase of an expensive set of tires.

The Downside

OK, let’s start by checking off the negative aspects of a purchase of tires from this outlet.

  • Costco has a limited selection of tires in stock in any particular store which may require tires that you want to be ordered in.  Typically you'll be limited to major tire brands such as Bridgestone, Goodyear, Goodrich, Michelin and probably not even a complete assortment from all these brands.
  • Ordering in tires may take around a week.
  • You cannot make an appointment for installation or for the "free" tire services which Costco provided.
  • Prices may or may not be extremely good.  Some shoppers claim that equal or better prices can be found by simply shopping around.
  • Alignment is not generally offered in Costco Tire Centers.

Benefits of Costco Tires

On the positive side, what are the benefits of getting tires from Costco?

costco tires warrantyBy far the most popular plus is Costco’s Limited Road Hazard Replacement warranty which assures customers that repairs or replacement to their tires will be made without cost for damages caused in normal driving conditions.  There are some restrictions and limitations to this and we would advise all customers to become familiar with these to avoid misunderstandings and disappointments. (Read the Warranty here)

Another popular benefit is Costco’s promise to rotate and balance tires for their customers as often as they wish during the life of their tires.

Costco offers free nitrogen inflation for their customers.  Although it is not in wide use, there are some claims that using nitrogen may prolong tire life, and if you choose to use it, Costco’s offer may save you some money.

Corporate Office

  • Costco Wholesale Corporation,
    999 Lake Drive
    Issaquah, WA 98027
    (425) 313-8100
    Costco Website

What Experiences Have You Had With Costco Tires?

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