Chances are you will get a good deal from Tire Rack. Most of its products are competitively priced and buying on line can give you access to some great savings.
Like many others I've ordered a lot of auto products by mail in the past, whether it was on line or the way we did it in the old days, when magazines were full of warehouse-style ads for mail order specials. I've purchased seats, engine parts and even complete engines.
There's a lot to be said for the option of mail order. There's not a lot that can go wrong with a new tire, the problems usually occur in the mounting and diagnosis of existing mechanical issues. However, a poor choice on tire load limits plays a big part in poor results.
A lot of people will tell you that they are sick and tired of the lack of quality service offered by the traditional old style tire dealers. Although it may be true that you can't find the kind of competent help you did before, you must ask if changing to a different kind of buying is going to give you any better results.
Recently my friend Andy and I were talking about buying from Tire Rack and he told me that one thing that would worry him with Tire Rack is its policy on wheel purchases and returns. He said that according their return policy, which is clearly stated on their website, they will not accept the return of wheels if they have had tires mounted.
Then he asked,"So what happens if you put the tires on and find out the wheels are faulty and it's no fault of yours?"
Then he told me the following story:
A long time ago I was taking care of a small fleet of cars in a family business and shopped around a fair bit for tires. I owned a shiny, teal blue Toyota Celica that was only a few months old when I decided to purchase a hot set of wheels to replace the factory ones.
I purchased the new wheels from a local tire dealer who had a good reputation. I still had a lot of wear left in my original set of tires so I had them mounted to the new wheels and off I drove.
Half way home I noticed that one of the tires was going flat. I stopped at a nearby service station and pumped it full of air. I figured it was just an oversight by the dealer, but I was still very happy.
When I got home that same tire was nearly flat again, just like before. I inflated it again and went to bed planning to ring the dealer the next morning.
That brand new wheel turned out to have a tiny, porous hole in it. It wasn't my fault and the tire dealer who sold them to me couldn't have known before.
Then he went on to say, "The point I want to make is what would have happened if I'd made the purchase from Tire Rack under the policy they state on their website?"
That certainly would be a valid concern, however, I asked Andy if he would be wanting to return all his wheels and get his money back, or simply get the defective wheel replaced with a good one. He conceded that getting the defective wheel replaced would satisfy him.
So, the question he would need to ask, before purchasing wheels from Tire Rack -- or anywhere else for that matter would be is whether or not they would replace any wheels which were defective in materials or fabrication -- regardless of whether they had been used or not. And, if so, how long of a period would he have this protection.
This, certainly, is a different issue apart from the option of returning a full set of wheels for a refund or exchange because, for some reason or other you changed your mind or didn't like them when you saw them in real life.
Maybe I'm just overly cautious, but I like to have issue like this clearly spelled out before I make a purchase of major value anywhere.
Perhaps this is one of the arguments for ordering a tire and wheel package in which the tires are already mounted and balanced when they are delivered.
So, in the end, this is not a question of whether or not buy online, or from Tire Rack. Instead it is a matter of knowing what your expectations are, learning what policies and protections are available to you and then making an informed choice about your purchase.
Thousands of people are satisfied with Tire Rack and will likely repeat their purchases from them. You could have the same issues with a local dealer too. All I'm suggesting you do is to ask questions -- wherever you decide to shop -- until you get the answers that you can feel comfortable with.
Want to check out what Tire Rack has to offer? This link will lead you to some manufacturers promotions Tire Rack's Special Offers or you might want to read about how to use your tire dealer to your best advantage.
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