Have you ever avoided replacing your worn-out tires because you weren't sure you could afford it? Having high-quality car tires isn't just a matter of gas mileage - it's a serious safety concern. That goes double for people who live in places with icy weather. If your treads are worn down, you'll skid.
But new tires can cost hundreds of dollars. And that's without getting into the cost of having them installed by a professional, for those who've never learned how to change their own tires. Unfortunately, these days, that's a lot of us. We just don't have the time to learn how to take care of our own cars.
Finding affordable tires and installation services can be a chore. Two of the most affordable tire distributors in the industry are Tire Rack and Discount Tire. These companies compete with the top brands to bring you affordable tire service. But which of them is actually better?
It turns out that each company has its own set of distinct advantages and disadvantages. I've taken a look at how each operates and broken down the differences to help you decide which works best for you.
Overview of Tire Rack and Discount Tire
Unique Tire Rack Features
Unique Discount Tire Features
Tire Rack sells tires and wheels that you can locate by the make and model of your vehicle. You can purchase each component alone, or you can invest in a tire and wheel package. There are guides available to help you pick the right tires and wheels.
In addition to searching by vehicle, you can also search for tires by brand or by their winter and snow capabilities. This is super helpful for those who need winter weather tires.
The company also sells car parts, accessories, apparel, and gift certificates.
The categories for vehicle parts include:
For accessories, the categories include:
Discount Tire focuses exclusively on providing tires and wheels, rather than offering extra vehicle components. You can search for tires by type, brand, and vehicle. Some of the types include:
This can make it a little easier to narrow down your selection if you're looking for something specific.
For wheels, you can search by the vehicle, wheel style, or brand. Wheel styles include:
Again, this can make it easier to find more specific options.
You can also book appointments through the website to have your tires serviced at a brick-and-mortar location. The services you can choose from include:
Winner: Tire Rack for versatility | Discount Tire for ease of use
Tire Rack sells significantly more products. They're a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to providing vehicle parts and car maintenance accessories. If you want a store that can help you take general care of your car, this is the best option on the list.
On the other hand, if you want a store that makes finding specific tires and wheels easy, then Discount Tire is a better bet. There are way more search options to narrow down your choices. By contrast, Tire Rack only offers a winter tire selection.
Tire Rack has fairly comprehensive customer support options. One advantage is that the company has different phone and email addresses for their sales and customer service teams. That means that when you make an inquiry, you're more likely to get a response from someone who's specialized in your issue.
For the sales specialists, you can look through an online directory or fill out a form to request product information. With the customer service team, you have access to order tracking information, returns help, and information on the refunds policies.
The company also sometimes has live chat available through the website during the weekdays. This allows you to talk to a specialist in real time about your needs and any issues you might be having.
When you purchase new tires, you get free shipping on any orders over $50. The company will also help you find an installation specialist if you need one.
Discount Tire states that its customer service policy is meant to accomplish six goals:
This has been the company's policy since opening in 1960.
As for resources, there are several FAQs answered on the website. The website also provides tools for finding the right tires and understanding the company's quality guide.
For questions about store visits, rebates, promotions, or the website, there's a short request form that you can fill out. You can also book in-person tire servicing appointments online. The form to do so is fairly straightforward.
For more complex issues, the company asks that you call the customer service phone number or go to a brick-and-mortar store to speak to a representative in person.
This may be advantageous for those who like more hands-on customer service, but it's not always convenient. It's especially inconvenient if you live in a more rural location that doesn't have a very close store.
Winner: Tire Rack
Both of these companies have good customer support options. But Discount Tire's relies a lot on being able to go to a brick-and-mortar store, which can be inconvenient. Tire Rack's multiple avenues for getting online help put it ahead of the game.
Pros and Cons of Tire Rack
Pros and Cons of Discount Tire
Final Thoughts: Which is Better?
Both of these businesses offer tires at prices that are more affordable than you get with the top competition. The right one for you mainly depends on what business model you're most comfortable with.
Discount Tire works best for those who want help at a brick-and-mortar store. There are stores throughout the United States staffing experts in the tire business. Through the website, you can schedule service appointments or purchase tires to pick up at an in-store location.
Tire Rack works best for those who prefer an online consumer experience. The company's online presence gives you access to wheels, tires, and other parts needed for your car. Multiple educational resources are available. And they'll even help you find an installation expert as part of your tire delivery options.