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Should You Buy Tires and Wheels as a Package or Separately?

Posted in How To on June 1, 2000
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One advantage to buying your tires locally is the convenience of easy installation, and you get to see exactly what you are getting. However, availability can be hit or miss. One advantage to buying your tires locally is the convenience of easy installation, and you get to see exactly what you are getting. However, availability can be hit or miss.
Sometimes replacing a new wheel becomes an immediate priority. In this case it would probably be wise to buy from your local shop and not have to wait 7 to 10 working days. Sometimes replacing a new wheel becomes an immediate priority. In this case it would probably be wise to buy from your local shop and not have to wait 7 to 10 working days.
A set of Super Swampers and rims can be delivered to your doorstep when ordered from a mail-order warehouse. Package deals usually include balancing, valve stems, lug nuts, and center caps. Mounting them yourself means you know for a fact that the just-hired wheel guy hasn’t torqued the lug nuts in a circle 30 lb-ft over spec. A set of Super Swampers and rims can be delivered to your doorstep when ordered from a mail-order warehouse. Package deals usually include balancing, valve stems, lug nuts, and center caps. Mounting them yourself means you know for a fact that the just-hired wheel guy hasn’t torqued the lug nuts in a circle 30 lb-ft over spec.
Cost Comparo. Cost Comparo.

If you’re ready to lay down cold cash for “Big Meats” and “Shiny New Steel,” you should always check around for the best deal. Of course, prices will tend to vary depending on the local tire store, but some of the larger suppliers offer discounted package deals for wheels and tires that include mounting, balancing, lugs, centers, and valve stems. We decided to take a closer look at these packages and see how they compared to the local tire stores for price and convenience. Here, we evaluate these options and offer a few price comparisons. In the age of online shopping, purchasing goods has never been easier. If you choose, you can buy your tires and wheels via the telephone or online. With this in mind, which is more cost-effective, mail-order companies or your local merchant? We contacted three major tire warehouses along with several tire stores and had them give us quotes for two popular tire-and-wheel combos: 33x12.50R16.5 BFGoodrich MTs with 9.75x16.5 Eagle Alloys Series 589 wheels and a set of 35x15R16.5 Super Swamper TSLs with 12x16.5 Weld Super Single wheels.

National Tire and Wheel can sell you a set of 35-inch Super Swampers with Weld wheels and have them delivered to your door in 8 to 11 working days for $1,977.08. The package includes mounting, balancing, lugs, centers, and valves. They accept credit cards, cashier’s checks, and money orders, and the price includes shipping and handling. Desert Rat quoted us a price of $1,939.59, and 4-Wheel Parts Wholesalers came in at an even $2,000.

The BFG/Eagle Alloys package will cost you $1,228.96 at National Tire and Wheel, $1,179.00 at Desert Rat, and $1,089.95 from 4-Wheel Parts. As you can see, the prices are all fairly competitive, and these companies have huge quantities of product. So if you’re looking for a hassle-free purchase, you can wait a week or so for delivery, and you are prepared to mount the tires once they arrive, mail-order is a convenient choice.

On the other hand, some folks like to see what they’re purchasing and have it in their possession immediately. In a lot of cases, you can find a specific wheel-and-tire combo at your local tire center and have it installed in an hour. This is especially true with some of the more common brands such as BFGoodrich. If you want Super Swampers, a lot of smaller shops will have to order them or may not be able to get them at all. We contacted three local tire centers for quotes and availability.

We found the prices for the 35-inch Super Swamper/Weld wheel combo averaged in the $2,000 range at all three shops contacted. This ends up being around $50 more, on average, than mail-order. Most shops had to backorder the set but said they could get them by the following day.

Wondering if the prices in our local tire stores were a bit high, we compared them to stores nationwide.These prices also averaged out the same. Cost for this particular combo, then, seems to be about $50 more than mail-order on the average. We were led to believe that these shops ordered the product from the very same mail-order companies. However, the BFG/Eagle Alloys combo seems to be readily available, and the tire centers we contacted had tires in stock but had to order the wheels. The price for this combo averaged $1,300. This adds up to $150 more than the mail-order companies. A significant savings of more than 10 percent of the total cost.

All in all, it seems mail-order purchasing can save you money and the inconvenience of hunting the countryside for the best deal. In addition, there is the intangible benefit of having a single source to hold accountable should anything go wrong with the tires, wheels, or associated parts and pieces. As long as you’re willing to wait a little while for the shipment to arrive and then mount your new combo yourself, this may be the way to go.

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