How to Buy Tires from the USA for the Biggest Savings
It’s no secret that the price of tires in the Unites States are cheaper than here in Canada; the real question is ‘How big of a discount are we talking here?’ and then ‘You had me at ‘big discount’, how to?’.
To make it easy I’m going to select a popular tire size (215/60-16) for my comparison. You may have a different tire size but the end results will likely be similar.
I live in Ottawa, ON and the closest American city is Ogdensburg, NY, which is about a 50 minute drive. Similar results will apply if you live in any Canadian city close to the US border.
To buy tires from the USA, I usually head over to these popular websites: TireRack.com, DiscountTire.com and Walmart.com. Obviously there are plenty other options, but these three tire retailers will make my point.
If you’re buying from Tire Rack or Discount Tire, you will need to have the tires shipped to an American address. Businesses that can act as your US address, like the UPS store in Ogdensburg, will accept parcels on your behalf for a small fee. If you’re buying from Walmart.com, they will ship any item on their website to any American Walmart store for free (they call it ‘site to store’).
Getting back to the tire price comparison. I mentioned a popular tire size of 215/60-16. I’m also going to choose a very popular winter tire, General Tire Altimax Arctic. It was pretty easy to find this tire/size combination across every website for the comparison.
Next, I’m going to compare tire prices from our American friends to the tire prices at Canadian Tire. Keep in mind that this chart should serve as a general reference, as every store has sales and discounts from time to time. The table below includes all of the costs associated with buying tires in Canada and in the USA.
*Initial tire prices are in the currency of store location. All prices are based per tire assuming a set of 4 tires will be purchased (eg. cost of toll fee and gas has been divided by 4).
Some interesting things to note are that Tire Rack adds a delivery charge and NY sales tax at checkout, while Discount Tire does not charge for shipping and does not charge state tax. All prices have been converted to Canadian Dollars for an apple-to-apple comparison (exchange rate at time of writing USD/CDN: 1.09).
Furthermore, if you want to have your tires mounted and balanced, the American Walmart store will do it for $15/tire, watch out though, they will only install tires that are sized according to car manufacturers guidelines. So it’s good to call ahead just to make sure. If you buy from Tire Rack or Discount Tire, bring them home, any local garage can mount and balance for about $20/tire.
So there you have it, buying tires from the USA can save you over $300 for one of the most popular tire brands and size. And now you know how to do it for yourself.
To help you make it even easier to see the potential discount, I have added a calculator that includes all of the fees and costs required to purchase from the USA. Simply enter the price for one tire from each retailer as advertised and see if it’s worth the effort to buy from the USA.
Drop some feedback below and let me know how much money are you able to save on your tires!
So how old are my tires anyway? And why should I care?
Tires deteriorate over time due to UV and air exposure in a process called outgassing. As the tire ages, the rubber becomes harder and more brittle which can eventually lead to major tire failure like tire-tread separation. Definitely not a good thing. Experts say that tire-tread separation can cause drivers to be involved in serious crashes that could result in death.
Manufacturers suggest tires be replaced if they are over 10 years old. It’s not only important to check how old your current tires are but when it comes time to buy new tires you want to check how long they’ve been sitting on the store shelf too.
Checking a tires age is actually pretty easy and fun to do.
Every tire has a “manufactured-on” date. It’s a 4 digit number found right on the side of the tire. To find it, look for a marking with the letters ‘DOT’, there should be a 4 digit number close by. Something like 1411.
The first 2 digits indicate the week of the year the tires were made, so 14 means the 14th week in a calendar year, which would be sometime in April. The last 2 digits indicate the year the tires were made, so 11 would mean there tires were made in the year 2011.
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