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November 20, 2014

Should I Take a Chance Buying My Tires Online?–RNR Has the Answer

Dear Bree,

I’m in the market for a new set of tires, and I’m wondering about buying online.  I have found some amazing deals online that no brick-and-mortar retailer I’ve found can match.  So, I’m asking you, Bree, honestly: What’s the difference between buying my tires online and going into an RNR store or other tire retailer and paying more for the same product?

Give It To Me Straight

Dear Straight,

Ever heard the phrase, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”?  That’s my short answer to your question, but your question really is a good one, so I’m going to give you the long answer, too.  I think you and all consumers deserve to know some important facts about buying your tires online.

Does the term “Foach” mean anything to you?  How about “Fuggs”?  These are words for fake Coach bags and fake Uggs, and they’re kind of funny, right?  But in reality, there’s nothing funny about them.  If you go looking for cheap Uggs online, you’ll find them, and, probably, they will claim to be the real thing, but you can spot the differences between an authentic Ugg and a fake if you look for them, and you’ll certainly be able to tell which one is real over the long term, as fakes are generally poorly constructed and won’t wear as well as the real thing.  And what will happen when your Fuggs start to fall apart?  Do you think Deckers (owner of Uggs) will replace your beloved boots? No, they won’t–because you’re wearing a fake, and why would a company replace a product that they didn’t even make?  It’s like buying a Foach on a street corner.  If it falls apart a few days later, that’s your problem.

That’s what you may run into if you buy discounted tires on the internet.  Yes, folks, counterfeit tires do exist!  Recently, Consumer Reports tested some tires, which they later rated poorly.  When contacted by the manufacturer, who was curious about their testing process, they discovered that the tires they’d tested were not what they thought they were.  They were actually counterfeits!  Consumer Reports purchased these tires inexpensively from an online dealer, and after MUCH investigation, they were as surprised as the purported manufacturer was that these counterfeit tires existed.  Ditto for the online seller.  It seems that some molds were stolen from the original manufacturer’s plant in China after it closed down, and the counterfeit tires were made from those.  Consumer Reports found that these counterfeit tires did not wear well or perform well in cold conditions.  So, even though the tread may have been the same, no one really knows what those tires were made of, and rubber composition is an integral part of the safety and performance of a tire (maybe the most important part!).  For instance, snow tires perform better in cold/wintry conditions partly because of their tread patterns, but largely because the rubber that is used to make them is designed not to harden when the temperature drops.  It stays pliable and able to grip the road in wintry conditions; whereas, in all-terrain tires, the rubber will begin to harden when the temperature drops to a certain point.  That’s why snow tires exist!  Their rubber compound is specially designed to perform in cold, wintry conditions; so, if you buy a tire online because you found an “unbelievable” deal, there may be an x-factor involved that you didn’t bargain for–and it’s just not worth the risk.  And don’t expect the “manufacturer” to replace your tires if they are deemed to be counterfeit.  They won’t replace a product that they didn’t even make.  You’ll be out the cash, the tires, and who knows how much more.  Remember how I said that you could spot the signs of a Foach or Fuggs?  There are dead giveaways, and if you miss them, you’ll see them as the products wear; but counterfeit tires are not easy to spot.  You may have no idea they’re fakes until their performance fails–so why take the risk?

Another risk factor: If an online retailer buys just one container full of tires from China cheaply, it may be that when you need one of those tires replaced because of a flat, etc., you won’t be able to find a match–and that’s no bueno either.

When you go to a reputable dealer, like an RNR Custom Wheels and Tire Express store, sure, you’ll pay more than that “amazing” deal that you saw online, but you’ll be getting exactly what you’re promised and what you paid for.  You’ll be backed up by a manufacturer’s guarantee, and a retail company who stands behind their products.  You’ll get grade-A installation and service (not available when you buy your tires online), and you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for a roadside-assistance plan–and at RNR, you can get a payment plan to fit your budget, so that you can get the tires you need when you need them.  Can you get that in a bargain-basement online store? I think not.

Clichés like, “You get what you pay for,” are well known for a reason–because they are true.  If you want to take your chances by buying online, best of luck to you.  You’ll need it.

Stay Safe,


P.S.  If you’d like to read more about the Consumer Reports story that I mentioned above, click here.

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