Today I’ll be comparing two retailers where you can purchase a new set of tires – Tire Rack and Costco. Apart from comparing them as companies, I will also mention the differences and who can benefit the most from its services.
What's In This Guide?
What is Tire Rack?
Online tire shopping has become a thing mainly thanks to Tire Rack. The company has been around for 40 years and is considered to be the first to begin selling tires online.
Using the service is pretty simple and straightforward. You can search for tires by vehicle type or tire size and choose the ones that work the best for you. One thing that may catch people off-guard is the number of available options. With 26 tire brands available, you can expect plenty of available options with every search. If you struggle, the site also has plenty of guides on choosing the right set of tires, and you may even find some recommendations. As a bonus, Tire Rack has a section called Specials and Closeouts, a place where you can find discounted models.
As an online store, don’t expect Tire Rack to have an online service that will install your tires online. Instead, you are presented with several options.
The best option is to have the tires delivered to a service recommended by Tire Rack. There are over 9000 of those around the US, so it’s very likely that you will find one near your home. Tire Rack recommends services that use procedures that adhere to a specific set of rules and procedures set by the retailer. That way, you will be sure that the tires will be installed properly. The second option is to have the tires delivered to your home if you already have a service that you are loyal to. If you take the tires home, you can also install them yourself, something that Tire Rack has a few in-depth guides for.
Apart from tires, Tire Rack also offers wheels as well as spare parts and accessories.
What is Costco?
Costco is a company that doesn’t need any introduction, but here’s one in case you’ve forgotten. It’s a membership-only wholesale warehouse that sells everything literally. You can find anything from electronics to furniture and the most important thing, tires.
The brand has two types of shopping – online and warehouse. The interesting thing is that the inventory in the warehouses and online shopping is not the same. Regarding tire purchasing, I would recommend going for the online option, as there are plenty of ways to find the right tire size.
You have 4 ways to search for tires: by vehicle, license plate, size, and item number. I particularly like the license plate option because it’s much simpler than trying to remember the trim level. I know it’s not something that people forget, but it’s a nice feature to have. When you search by license plate, it gets run by the State Public Vehicle Records, and the service automatically gives you models based on that. All you need to do is choose the state and ZIP code to get results that are closest to where you live. Alternatively, if you have a custom wheel set up or want to size up or down, the search by size option would be the best for you.
Like most tire retailers, Costco has its own tire centers, a place where you can have the tires installed. This is similar to Discount Tire, and you can check out our Tire Rack vs Discount Tire Review here. Regardless of how you choose the tires, once you make the purchase, you can select one of the hundreds of tire centers Costco has across the country. Once the purchasing process is completed, you can choose the tire center and have the tires delivered there free of charge.
What are the Pros of Tire Rack?
Tire Rack has plenty of advantages, and the one I’m mostly inclined to mention is the available options. You can choose between 26 models that cover the cheap, mid-range, and premium segments. In other words – there’s a tire for everyone.
The purchasing process is relatively simple and easy to use. Enter the details and choose the set of tires that you want. Not everyone is well versed in the tire language and may have a problem choosing the right set. In those cases, the option to reach out to support and get some help. The team is very well versed in this, so you can expect to get some professional help.
Another advantage that Tire Rack has is the number of places where you can have the new set of tires installed. With over 9000 services across the US, there is a very good chance you’ll find one near your location. The tires will be delivered there free of charge, and all you need to do is choose a date and time when you want them installed.
What are the Pros of Costco?
When it comes to Costco, there are a few advantages here as well, and the biggest one being the tire centers. Since the company has physical warehouses, in most cases, it will have a tire center nearby. The result of this is a service where you will have your tires replaced by a professional employed by Costco.
Having a tire service that is a part of the company is an advantage from a financial standpoint. It means that the installations price is fixed and will cost you $18.99 per tire. Included in the price are lifetime balancing, rotation, flat repair, and air pressure checks, as well as valve stem replacement and road hazard warranty.
This may not feel like an advantage to some, but it’s a nice feature to have. Costco’s search by license plate option is excellent for people that don’t want to struggle when searching for new tires. They can just enter the license plate and state and let the service find the most suitable tires.
What are the Main Differences Between Tire Rack and Costco?
There are plenty of differences between Tire Rack and Costco, and the biggest one is in the way the companies work. Tire Rack is an online-only tire service that you can use from the comfort of your home. Costco is similar in that regard, but there is also a warehouse option that doesn’t have the same items as the online one. It can get a bit tricky if you are after a specific tire.
Another pretty big difference is in the available choices. I will get into the specifics in the following section, but this is where Tire Rack takes the win. With 26 available brands, it has 23 more when compared with Costco.
Next up is the tire services, which is a duel where both services have positive sides. Tire Rack has over 9000 tire services across the country, which is quite a lot more than Costco. One thing worth mentioning is that they are not part of the Tire Rack brand – they are just shops recommended by the company.
Costco, on the other hand, has several hundred tire shops which is less than Tire Rack. A slight advantage is the fact that they are Costco-owned shops, meaning that you can expect consistent service across all of them. The main area that most people seem to like is the replacement price. Regardless of which shop you replace your tires, you can expect to have a fixed price of $18.99 per wheel. With Tire Rack, the price will depend on the individual shop.
Tire Rack Available Tire Brands
- Dick Cepek
- General Tire
- Power King
Costco Available Tire Brands
Winner: Tire Rack
In terms of customer service, both brands seem to offer more or less the same options. People who have gotten stuck with the tire size or are unsure what kind of tires to get can reach out to support and get some help.
Tire Rack and Costco both have a professional team of tire experts that can help you make the right choice. The representatives will ask you many questions, and based on your answers, they can give you some recommendations. In this department, both seem evenly matched.
Both companies have a blog section that features countless articles that cover quite a lot of topics in terms of tires. I have to admit that I didn’t get a chance to read every piece of content, but I think that Tire Rack is a bit better.
I feel like Tire Rack has slightly better guides when compared with Costco. On top of that, there are also several articles that outline the process of replacing the tires and wheels yourself. It’s a nice touch for people that aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty.
When it comes to value, there are some similarities and differences between Tire Rack and Costco.
When you compare the prices for a single tire, both companies’ offers are more or less similar. You may come across some slight differences here and there, but those are a few dollars, which isn’t a lot.
Going for a package of 4 tires, plus the installation, you start to see some differences. A set of 4 tires from Tire Rack won’t include the installation fee, while with Costco, you will have the total price. Costco’s advantage is that you can often find some discounts, and if you use them, you can expect to save on the overall package. If you run into a discounted set of tires, in most cases, the discount will be greater than the price of the tire installation. In this regard, Costco can be a better-valued option.
If you take the discounts out of the equation, then you are looking at pretty evenly matched services.
Use Tire Rack if:
- You want to have more available options in terms of tire brands
- You are a fan of online shopping
- Price is not the main concern
- Don’t have a problem installing the tires yourself
Use Costco if:
- You want to use the occasional discount
- Want to have more filtering options when searching for new tires
- Own a Costco membership card
You are looking at a pretty evenly matched services, so I’m having difficulties choosing one. If I had to name one, it would probably be Tire Rack, but only by a margin.
Being well-versed in the tire world, some of Costco’s search features will be of no use to me. On top of that, I would prefer Tire Rack mainly for the sheer number of choices. 26 tire brands is quite a lot and cover an extensive range of options, which is why I would pick Tire Rack.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that Costco is a lousy option. I’m saying that it’s not the ideal option for me personally. Going for the Costco route means you will be limited to only 3 tire brands, but you get some positive sides.
The search options, combined with the common discounts and savings, make Costco an excellent option.
Overall, I have to say that both are excellent choices that have different advantages and disadvantages. Despite my slight inclination towards Tire Rack, you won’t make a mistake if you go with Costco.