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Quest for the Tires

Over the past few weeks - nay, months - the Crossfire's tires have experienced a precipitous decline. The left-rear hoop started losing air ever-so-slowly during the summer until, a few weeks ago, that particular tire wouldn't stay inflated for more than a few days. Upon inspection, I noticed a big ol' crack opened up in the sidewall; that was new. And a bit scary. Thus the Crossfire dropped to in-town duty only.

Why not just run out and buy a new tire? Well, one doesn't just buy a single tire when they're at this stage of wear (never mind that it has only 15,000 miles or so; they're super-grippy summer tires), and in fact the front ones were looking pretty much past their prime, too. So buying one meant buying a set. No biggie, sez you, everyone has to buy a set of tires now and then. Quit whinging! Well, these are no ordinary tires. To replace the shoes that my beloved sports-car wore when new would set me back nearly two grand. Let's be precise: $1700, plus installation and so forth. For a set of tires. I've bought several entire cars that cost less than that. So I was delaying the inevitable, at least until spring, by which time I could save up a bit (didn't get paid last summer, still catching up).

Now let's complicate things: Last week, my other operational car (the forest-green 1994 Saab 900S convertible) blew some kind of coolant fitting somewhere under the hood (have yet to identify where), so now it loses coolant at an alarming rate. We'll call that car non-op. To further complicate things, I teach every Monday night in Kansas City, about 35 miles from home. Not exactly a destination designed for riding my Vespa, eh? So I've had to use KU rental cars.

(For those of you playing along at home, I also own some other non-op vehicles: A 1966 Chrysler Newport, out of service due to its engine being in pieces. This is a planned event, on account of hot-rodding it. I also have a full-size motorcycle, 1978 BMW R100S, also in pieces as it's undergoing restoration. Just for giggles, let's add the Aprilia RS50 that got wrecked in last year's accident, and the electric bicycle, which lost its power supply cable during removal of the rear wheel - another bad tire - due to a factory-stripped bolt. *sigh*)

So I needed to replace the tires, but was not willing to spend that big a pile of gold on 'em. My local shop found a different but still-excellent set of tires, Goodyear Eagle F1 All-Seasons, which would allow me to drive the Crossfire through rain and even *gasp* snow! Unfortunately, four of 'em in my sizes (very wide, 18" front and 19" rear) would cost $1400. Oof. That's if he could even order them, which seemed unclear. He suggested I check around elsewhere, because these are the only tires he could find for my car, and because he's not a Goodyear dealer, he doesn't get good prices. I love Performance Tire & Wheel - how many shop managers would say that? So I did check around.

NO ONE COULD GET ME MY TIRES. Oh, that's not entirely true:

1) Gregg Tire (the local Goodyear dealer as rec'd by Steve at Performance) thought they might be able to get a pair of the 19s from a place in California, but they'd call me back. Have I heard yet? In three days? No.

2) Sears (not the one in my town, of course, but one 40 miles away) could order them at a slightly cheaper price, but to order them I needed a Sears card. I am not shitting you. VISA was no good for them. So I called Sears' Bombay Division, because I think I have a Sears card, but it turns out that no, I don't. If you don't use it for a year, they cancel it.

3) At this point I was getting frustrated enough to check with Satan, Himself, and stopped by Wal-Mart's tire department. The girl (I intentionally use that word) behind the counter assured me Wal-Mart couldn't order tires in my sizes, but the mechanic who overheard her said I should check the website, order them, and have them shipped to the store. Seriously? That's a business model? Desperate I was, so I went home and fired up the interwebs to discover that Wal-Mart actually carried 'em for a little cheaper than Sears... but it would take 3-4 weeks before they arrived. Wha...?

"Okay, that's it," said I. "Damn trying to shop locally." I went to Tire Rack's online dealership and found my tires for WAY cheaper. But no way could I safely install those puppies by myself. With my tires trembling quietly in the checkout page (only 2 left in 19s, by the way), I called Steve at Performance Tire and asked if I could have them shipped to his store for them to install. Yes! Success!

Thus assured, I placed my order - totalling $720 with shipping - and expect them to arrive in about 4-5 days. That's weeks faster than Wal-Mart and $680 cheaper than ordering them locally. Holy crap.

If you've ever wondered why local stores are failing and why online sales have exploded, this Quest for the Tires should answer that question.


EDIT: And the saga continues: Just got a phone call from the Tire Rack informing me that Goodyear was recommending against using those tires for wear and noise concerns. *sigh* The nice Tire Rack guy found me a comparable set of Yokohamas that will last longer, run quieter, and provide at least as good wet-dry-snow grip as the Goodyears... at $150 more. *double-sigh*

EDIT 2: Lords of Kobol! The NEXT hurdle to overcome in the Quest: Apparently, VISA had my home address wrong, so rejected my order. Six calls and an hour later, I've corrected the problem. Egad. What's next?


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 14th, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
If you've ever wondered why local stores are failing and why online sales have exploded, this Quest for the Tires should answer that question.

Keep in mind, we have a fairly unusual car.

I called Brown's Shoe Fit to see if they could get in a pair of these boots for me to try on, and they said sure, no problem, and if they don't fit, they'll just send 'em back to their distributor.

Not all local shopping is doomed to failure.
Oct. 14th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
True - I'm just sayin' that this kind of price and availability discrepancy leads people more and more to purchase online. Especially on big-ticket items like this.
Oct. 14th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
For giant and unusual purchases like this, I agree. But I don't know that local brick-and-mortars are losing money by not stocking out-of-the-ordinary items.

I'm sorry you had to go through much trouble to find an affordable deal, though. That stinks.
Oct. 16th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
Auto Exchange, Auto Exchange, Auto Exchange.
We've had excellent work done there, reasonably priced.
And tires.
Locally owned, eager to be the lowest in town on work, and very helpful to us and a few of Jbird's co-workers. One of whom took in his truck and an entire new motor and had it installed.
Oct. 16th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
Ooo! Good to know for future reference! Thanks!
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 14th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
That makes sense, especially in smaller markets like Lawrence.
Oct. 14th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
Speaking of, I need to replace my tires as well. I might as well swallow the cost now.

My mother had the same issue with tires and her Camero. That car was bitchin' alright.

Oct. 16th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
I highly recommend Auto Exchange on 23rd St.
Oct. 15th, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
Holy Guano Batman!
Geez. Now I'm afraid to even give you a ride home. You must've cut-off a voodoo priestess in traffic and she cursed your @$$.

(I used to work for my Dad when he owned an auto repair shop. Back in those days when oil was still in the dinosaur, I had to write LETTERS for strange parts. We had one guy's sports car for 17 months and how we got his part was I found a guy who was visiting his grandmother in Italy and we paid him to bring it with him on the plane.)

Me... I luvs the interwebs.
Oct. 15th, 2010 07:24 am (UTC)
Re: Holy Guano Batman!
That's awesome! Yeah, times are better now....
Oct. 16th, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
Call Auto Exchange and get a quote.
I got a replacement Goodyear Eagle RSA for the RSol when they replaced one of the front tires that had a small blemish. Figured we needed to have a matched set on the front. I can't remember the price but it wasn't shocking. And he had it for me the next day out of KC.

Ask for Jeff, tell him we (the Solstice buyers) sent you.

Edit correction... the Kellys we bought were for the Buick before I traded it and were $200 for both.

Further edit... WallyWorld sells blems and seconds but they don't tell you that. All four of the tires J had bought there before I met him shredded and/or developed bumps. That info comes straight from a former coworker who used to work at the Goodyear plant in Topeka.

Edited at 2010-10-16 06:48 pm (UTC)
Oct. 16th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
I got them for less than $200 apiece (fronts) and a bit more for the rears - great deals, considering they are MASSIVE tires.
Oct. 18th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC)

Wow, good deal indeed.
Yah, yours are mucho wider than mine, too.
Oct. 19th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
Sweet jesus, what is the tire size spec for your car? And is that 18 in the front and 19 in the rear diameter? Kind of bizarre. I thought my car had some expensive tires but mine cost less than 200 a tire usually.
Oct. 19th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I knew the day would come when baby would need new shoes, but I'd kind of ignored what it would cost. They're 18-40-225 up front and 19-35-255 out back.
Oct. 19th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
Ahh, mine are 225/45-18 and 245/45-18. Almost as fat as you! I can get them as low as 600's but there's definitely some tires out there in the $1,000 price range (prices for all four).
Oct. 19th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
Ah, the days when my cars used 15" tires....

What is your car? Those are big ol' things, too.
Oct. 19th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
One of these:

Yeah I kind of miss when I could shoe my whip for $350.
Oct. 19th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
Sweet - I've always liked those!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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