Instead of the barber shop or hardware store, I spend my Saturday afternoons hanging out at the tire shop.
I seem to spend an awful lot of time buying tires.
Last Saturday, for instance, I paid $241.83 for a set of front tires.
My tires are always wearing out. When I bring a flat tire in, the guy always says it’s ruined. Not only can’t the tire be saved, but I never get a good deal on replacement tires.
Nobody buys more tires than I do.
When I take my car in for an oil change, the guy says he can’t rotate my tires, because some of them are in terrible shape. There’s steel showing through, the guy says. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I bought them.
I must be awful hard on tires. The good thing is sitting in the tire shop, I see shows I never would have discovered at home.
Yes, I know I’m not very smart about cars. I have my tires rotated, aligned and balanced very rarely. In fact, almost never.
Some people, like my friend Tom, never have to change a flat. He has his tires rotated every 5,000 miles and checks the air pressure. He also has his tires rotated and rebalanced. His tires have a 30,000-mile warranty. The last time Tom changed a tire was 15 years ago.
It’s clear that I haven’t learned how to play the tire game.
I’m not opposed to paying a little extra for better-quality tires, or for a decent warranty.
I always think I have some kind of guarantee. But every time I have a flat, the guy tells me I need to buy a whole new tire at the regular price.
I’ve been studying the fine print on last week’s receipt, trying to find a good warranty.
But it gets complicated in a hurry.
Take a look at the manufacturer limited warranty, for example. Every new tire purchased at the store “is warranted by the manufacturer against failure due to defects in workmanship or materials down to 2/32nds of an inch remaining tread groove depth.” There are other conditions.
Apparently, I do all my damage driving over loopholes.
I usually think I have some kind of protection on my tires. But when the rubber meets the road, I never do.
The signs out front make it seem like they’re giving tires away. Trust me. They’re not. Not only do you pay an arm and a leg, but you also have to pay a tire disposal fee.
At the very least, I’ve gotten better at holding onto my receipts. I’m keeping my paperwork organized, ready for the next time a tire dies a premature death. But I doubt if I’ll get much traction.
I’m jealous of my brother-in-law, who’s covered every time something breaks down. He always has a warranty, and he understands the tricks.
When he needs a new roof, he waits for a hailstorm to come along. Then, he gets his roof replaced at no charge.
The exact opposite is me, who lives with high deductibles, no warranties and no tricks. It feels like I’m always losing out.
If we can create self-driving cars and dazzling navigation systems, why can’t we produce tires that last more than a year or two?
Maybe the job of a tire is harder than I realize. Or maybe I’m missing something.
I feel like the entire tire industry treads on me.
I’d love to hear any advice.
If you want to find me on a Saturday afternoon, you know where to look.
Jeff Bahr is a reporter for The Independent. He may be reached at (308) 381-9408.