tires

The table below shows prices our undercover shoppers were quoted by a sampling of local tire dealers, including big chains, independents, auto repair shops, new-car dealers, and online sellers, for four specific models/sizes of tires—two for a Ford Explorer and two for a Honda Accord. All of the stores were asked to quote on a set of four tires for each tire model, including mounting, balancing, valve stems, and disposal fees.

The table also reports Checkbook’s price comparison score for each store or chain. These scores show how each store’s prices compared to the average of all stores’ prices for the tires we shopped. We adjusted the scores so that the average of all stores equals $100. A score of $105, for example, means prices averaged five percent higher than the all-store average.

Note that for online-only retailers, which don’t offer installation services, we added an average installation fee ($90) to their prices for each set of tires.

Here’s what our undercover shoppers found:

  • Major price differences. For example, prices for a set of four Michelin Lattitude Tour HP tires for the Ford Explorer ranged from $784 at BJ’s to $1,260 at Drum Hill Ford—a difference of $476.
  • Among local stores, chains BJ’s, Sears, Walmart, and Costco offered low overall prices, but we also found low prices at some independent tire dealers, repair shops, and even new-car dealerships.
  • Not all of the big chains or big-box stores offered low prices. Surveyed stores for Direct Tire & Auto Service, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Hogan Tire & Auto Service Center, NTB, Pep Boys, Sullivan Tire & Auto Service, and Town Fair Tire quoted prices that ranged from slightly below average to higher than average.
  • Although BJ’s, Sears, Walmart, and Costco offered low prices, a big advantage to using a conventional tire shop is that selection at the big-box discounters is fairly limited.
  • Online sellers Amazon, OnlineTires.com, and TireRack.com also offered consistently low prices—with incomparable selection. These retailers will ship tires to your home or to a local shop for installation. (On our price table, we added an average installation fee of $90 to the online sellers’ prices.) Among the online sellers, we found that Amazon’s prices were the lowest—about four percent lower than prices offered by OnlineTires.com and six percent lower than TireRack.com’s.
  • Stores that had low prices for one tire model tended to be competitive for others, but you can’t count on that. Some stores quoted low prices for one tire model but average or higher-than-average prices for others.
  • When shopping for price, specify exactly what you want. If you want mounting, balancing, and valve stems to be included, make that clear. And because there are so many tire models, many with very similar names and specifications, cite the tire model precisely, preferably by the parts number.
  • Stores tend to specialize in certain brands, order some upon request, and refuse to handle others. They are likely to offer their best prices for their specialties. Indeed, some of the stores we shopped would probably have looked better if we had shopped for other brands.

Illustrative Tire Prices

Prices are for a set of four and include mounting, balancing, and valve stems. For online retailers, which do not offer installation services, we added an average installation fee ($90) to each set of prices.

2014 Ford Explorer 2014 Honda Accord Checkbook's price comparison score
($100 = average)
Michelin Latitude Tour HP (88062) Bridgestone Dueler H/L 400 (133272) BFGoodrich Advantage T/A (02107) Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max (738638571)
BJ’s
278 Middlesex Ave, Medford, 781-396-0451
$784 $824 $424 $608 $83
BJ’s
6 Hutchinson Dr, Danvers, 978-777-0469
$784 $824 $424 $608 $83
Amazon.com
888-280-4331
$841 $746 $486 $672 $87
Sears
1100 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington, 781-221-4900
$484 $632 $89
Sears
250 Granite St, Braintree, 781-356-6000
$484 $632 $89
Walmart
300 Colony Place Rd, Plymouth, 508-830-9555
$992 $716 $480 $658 $89
Walmart
333 Main St, Tewksbury, 978-851-6265
$992 $716 $480 $658 $89
Bruce’s Tire & Service
36-R Dudley St, Arlington, 781-648-7622
$880 $557 $90
Costco
2 Mystic View Rd, Everett, 617-544-4806
$974 $828 $508 $91
Costco
200 Legacy Blvd, Dedham, 781-251-9975
$974 $828 $508 $91
OnlineTires.com
877-465-8473
$1034 $705 $642 $91
York Ford
1481 Broadway - Rte 1 S, Saugus, 781-231-1945
$948 $948 $516 $91
Bill’s Tire Barn
265 N Main St, West Bridgewater, 508-588-4120
$1080 $804 $540 $568 $93
TireRack.com
888-541-1777
$981 $816 $529 $638 $93
DiscountTireDirect.com
$1015 $828 $544 $650 $95
Fay’s Salem Tire
6 Kelly Rd, Salem, 603-898-0517
$912 $820 $556 $692 $95
TireBuyer.com
866-961-8668
$1086 $830 $526 $642 $96
Boch Honda
279 Boston Providence Tpke, Norwood, 781-255-6000
$1036 $860 $564 $636 $97
NTB
217 W Central St, Natick, 508-651-1100
$1016 $1107 $480 $564 $97
Sullivan Tire & Auto Service
157 Union Ave, Framingham, 508-875-8558
$1076 $848 $548 $652 $97
Sullivan Tire & Auto Service
475 Boston Post Rd, Sudbury, 978-443-5173
$1076 $848 $548 $652 $97
Town Fair Tire
450 Quincy Ave, Quincy, 617-376-0500
$1159 $788 $531 $667 $97
Direct Tire & Auto Service
321 Speen St, Natick, 508-655-4455
$891 $990 $633 $574 $98
Goodyear Auto Service Center
635 American Legion Hwy, Boston, 617-522-6400
$652 $98
Independent Tire
20 Old Clark Rd, North Andover, 978-689-3900
$980 $857 $584 $688 $98
Liner Tire
144 Boylston St, Brookline, 617-232-4869
$1172 $880 $576 $556 $98
Pep Boys
232 Highland Ave, Salem, 978-744-3131
$576 $644 $98
Pep Boys
1848 Revere Beach Pkwy, Everett, 617-545-1000
$576 $644 $98
Maynard & Lesieur
31 W Hollis St, Nashua, 603-883-7739
$1076 $948 $560 $600 $99
Stansfield Tire Complete Auto Service
402 Chelmsford St, Lowell, 978-452-9000
$1122 $880 $578 $600 $99
Franklin Ford
175 E Central St, Franklin, 508-528-0040
$1052 $928 $568 $660 $100
Fahey’s Tire Center
28 New Salem St, Wakefield, 781-245-2020
$1198 $900 $604 $564 $101
Jannell Ford
2000 Washington St, Hanover, 781-982-4500
$983 $979 $575 $667 $101
Broadway Tire Complete Car Care Center
456 Broadway, Lawrence, 978-682-0000
$1172 $864 $588 $664 $102
Town Fair Tire
1675 VFW Pkwy, West Roxbury, 617-323-2882
$1218 $861 $568 $647 $102
Hogan Tire & Auto Service Center
661 Rogers St, Lowell, 978-458-6600
$1201 $874 $564 $674 $103
Ron’s Tire & Service
635 Waverly St, Framingham, 508-872-2266
$975 $930 $632 $712 $103
Dorchester Tire Service
1160 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester Center, 617-825-2405
$1080 $920 $660 $680 $105
Honda North
382 Newbury St, Danvers, 978-777-2550
$1120 $952 $636 $636 $105
Norwood Tire
55 Lenox St, Norwood, 781-762-4935
$1127 $616 $680 $105
Schlott Tire
530 Main St, Tewksbury, 978-858-0181
$1168 $900 $624 $660 $105
Hogan Tire & Auto Service Center
945 Main St, Waltham, 781-891-7350
$1141 $894 $639 $703 $106
NTB
2501 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-354-0618
$1111 $1107 $575 $659 $107
Firestone Complete Auto Care
972 Commonwealth Ave #984, Boston, 617-487-4839
$1224 $844 $640 $752 $108
Firestone Complete Auto Care
1362 Worcester St, Natick, 508-433-1737
$1224 $844 $640 $752 $108
Tom Lyons Tire & Auto Center
210 Lexington St, Waltham, 781-894-4900
$1114 $1076 $578 $693 $108
Weymouth Honda
211 Main St, Weymouth, 781-337-7400
$982 $710 $108
Goodyear Auto Service Center
205 Market St, Lynn, 781-598-4500
$1139 $701 $652 $109
Dedham Wholesale Tire & Auto Service
5218 Washington St, West Roxbury, 617-325-6600
$1225 $945 $695 $659 $110
Direct Tire & Auto Service
126 Galen St, Watertown, 617-923-1800
$1210 $990 $633 $718 $111
Long Distance Tire
85 Main St, Medway, 508-533-4200
$1056 $950 $701 $783 $111
Tire Warehouse
236 Chelmsford St, Lowell, 978-458-0707
$960 $950 $670 $880 $111
Herb Chambers Honda
33 Cambridge St, Burlington, 781-273-5000
$644 $744 $112
Drum Hill Ford
1212 Westford St, Lowell, 978-452-3900
$1260 $1260 $860 $944 $138