Purchasing tires gets quite confusing today with so many tire sellers in the market on both the online and offline marketplace. One has to compare prices, waiting period, installation charges, maintenance offers, and many other points. The process is lengthy and one could need guidance to choose the best tire seller. To help you out, we’re comparing two of the best tire sellers. This guide should help you know which seller to approach depending on your requirements.
What is Discount Tire?
Founded in 1960 in Michigan, Discount Tire is the largest independent tire and wheel retailer in the world and operates in most of the 48 contiguous states in the USA. They have more than 1000 branches and are known to deal with many popular and not so popular tire brands. Apart from that, Discount Tire is known for its ‘low price guarantee’ promise and excellent customer service.
What is Costco?
A subsidiary of Costco Wholesale, this business entity focuses primarily on a niche market as it sells tires belonging to just three brands namely Bridgestone, Michelin, and BFGoodrich. The Costco business model is quite different since it caters only to customers that have a Costco membership. Since they deal with the three of the most renowned tire brands, their tires are priced higher but the cost of installation and maintenance is lower.
What are the Pros of Discount Tire?
Buying your tires from Discount Tire comes with many benefits. They include:
1) Free Tire rotation and balancing of new tires
2) They have a large variety of tire brands to offer so buyers get more options to choose from
3) Financing options are easily available
4) The tires being sold are cheaper and offer more value for money
5) One can save waiting time by booking an appointment with them
6) Dispatches happen soon when compared to Costco
7) No membership is required to purchase a tire or service
What are the pros of Costco?
Though it focuses on a niche market, the pros of buying from Costco include:
1) The tires being sold belong to reputed brands so one can expect quality products
2) Tires sold by Costco come with a 5- year warranty
3) Tire service/ maintenance is cheaper than Discount Tire, sometimes free
What are the main differences between Discount Tire and Costco?
Winner: Discount Tire
This is one of the most important factors people consider when making their purchase decision. The one with the lower price is usually declared the winner. While we can’t compare the prices of each tire model, an average price would show us the brand people would prefer.
The average cost per tire at Discount Tire hovers between the $145 and $150 mark whereas, at Costco, the average price stands between $160 and $165. Discount Tire clearly seems to hold the advantage here but, maybe not as significantly as it seems. Costco stocks three brands and consequently, the tire models would be limited in quantity when compared to Discount Tire which stocks tires of more than 50 brands. Whatever the reason, Discount Tire takes the trophy in this one.
In addition, Discount Tire also offers a low match guarantee where if customers find the same tire priced for a lower price elsewhere, Discount Tire will sell it to them at the lower price.
Apart from the price, another factor people base their buying decision on is the warranty offered with the selected tire. Discount Tire offers a three-year road hazard warranty with a ‘Discount Tire Certificate’, apart from the manufacturer warranty the tire’s brand offers. But this is a paid service without which the users can only rely on the manufacturer warranty. The price for each tire’s warranty can go as high as $100, which is quite high in our opinion. If your tires fail in this time period, one can claim a replacement or refund.
In the case of Costco, the company offers a free five years warranty on each tire purchase which is separate from the manufacturer warranty the tires come with. The 5 year ‘Road Hazard Protection’ provides a warranty for five years against treadwear damage or tire failures mainly owing to manufacturing or handling defects. If one opts for a replacement but has driven extensively on the same tire, Costco will deduct some amount for the miles the tire has covered and credit the rest of the amount to you.
Costco’s customer-centric approach we think is excellent as most customers who spend a lot of money on expensive tires would expect a free warranty for their peace of mind.
Installation charges and maintenance
While the cost of tires is one aspect to consider, the cost of replacing tires, filling air/nitrogen, tire balancing and rotation, puncture repairs, etc are also expenses one must consider in the package when buying a tire. Discount Tire has serious disadvantages in this aspect as it charges a higher installation price per tire of $19 against Costco’s $14.
Costco not only has a price advantage here but it also offers the following services free of cost to its members:
- Lifetime pressure checks
- Puncture repairs
- Tire rotations
- Tire Balancing
While the tires sold by Costco can be more expensive than those sold by Discount Tire, Costco trumps in providing more services free of charge and thus, adds more value.
Membership and Financing
Winner: Discount Tire
Costco will only sell you a tire if you’re a member and membership costs around $60 per year. This is one point where potential customers could choose Discount Tire over Costco as one may not want to keep paying a fixed sum just to enjoy complimentary services. In terms of financing too, Costco does not offer any kind of credit to its customers which could prove to be one of the biggest disadvantages since it stocks expensive tires.
Discount Tire on the other hand has no membership policy. It will cater to anyone turning up at its stores. In terms of financing, a Discount Tire credit card can be used by customers if the purchase made is worth more than $200.
Discount Tire clearly has an upper hand in terms of payment flexibility and non-membership as many new customers would prefer a more convenient, quick, and hassle-free shopping experience.
Winner: Discount Tire
As we’ve mentioned earlier, Discount Tire stocks over 50 tire brands that offer a huge variety of tires. That is a lot of inventory customers get to choose from, especially if one is unsure of what tire to purchase and is willing to experiment with different brands. Discount Tire clearly has an upper hand here as it caters to a larger market size.
Costco sells tires from BFGoodrich, Michelin, and Bridgestone only. Though these are brands that offer great quality tires, it isn’t enough a reason to not have onboard additional brands as options for the buyers. This restricted policy would only target niche, loyal customers who know what they want. In addition, there are reviews that suggest that Costco stores are found to be out of stock on multiple instances, unlike Discount Tire.
Winner: Discount Tire
Both brands offer the convenience of shipping their tires over to their customers in case they are looking to replace the tires themselves or, prefer getting it done by a local mechanic.
While the exact shipping duration depends on the location, Discount Tire on average ships tires in two to four days so one could expect the tires to arrive sooner.
In the case of Costco, shipping is known to take longer as dispatches are mostly made in five to seven days. Customers have to wait a lot longer for the tires to arrive which in our opinion is a bummer.
Buy from Discount Tire if…
- You’re looking for cheap tires
- You want to choose between multiple brands
- You’re interested in manufacturer warranty only
- You want the tires to be shipped sooner
- You’re looking for financing options when buying tires
- You’re not looking for a lifetime membership
Buy from Costco if…
- You’re looking for a seller that offers membership
- You’re looking for specific brands that Costco sells- Michelin, Bridgestone, or BFGoodrich
- You prefer lower installation and maintenance charges
- Tire warranty plays a major role in your buying decision
- You don’t mind paying a higher price but prefer quality products and after-sales service
To conclude, we’d say that both Discount Tire and Costco are great, reputable sellers in their own ways. Though both business entities sell tires, they cater to different market segments in the tire market so one can’t call them competitors in every single sense.
If one has a fixed tire choice in mind and is looking for a customer loyalty program that offers benefits like cheaper installation charges, free maintenance, free 5-year warranty irrespective of the manufacturer warranty but, isn’t bothered about a higher shipping duration, lack of financing options or a premium price tag, Costco would be the go-to store for such customers.
On the other hand, Discount Tire is preferable for people demanding a variety of brands to choose from, people wanting the best tire deals, faster shipping, finance options, and for those that aren’t bogged down by maintenance charges or paid warranty policy.