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 Goodyear Assurance FuelMax tires for the Honda Accord ranged from $549 at the Elliott Tire & Service Center in Woodinville to $914 at Affordable Tire & Factory Service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Seattle—a difference of $365.
  • Among local stores, chains Costco, Walmart, Big O Tires, and Discount Tire 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 Firestone Complete Auto Care, Les Schwab Tire Center, Pep Boys, Sam’s Club, and Sears quoted prices that ranged from slightly below average to higher than average.
  • Although Costco and Walmart 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 and OnlineTires.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 three percent lower than prices offered by OnlineTires.com and nine percent lower than prices we found at DiscountTireDirect.com, TireBuyer.com, and TireRack.com, which all offered similar pricing.
  • 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)
Amazon.com
888-280-4331
$841 $746 $486 $672 $84
Costco
8629 120th Ave NE, Kirkland, 425-827-1693
$974 $768 $508 $85
Costco
400 Costco Dr, Tukwila, 206-575-9191
$974 $768 $508 $85
Walmart
1900 S 314th St, Federal Way, 253-941-9974
$986 $710 $474 $652 $85
Walmart
1605 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett, 425-789-3361
$986 $710 $474 $652 $85
Big O Tires
60 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah, 425-391-4161
$944 $504 $628 $86
Discount Tire
12950 Bel Red Rd, Bellevue, 425-455-2755
$966 $782 $490 $630 $86
Discount Tire
1029 N Pearl St, Tacoma, 253-759-8899
$966 $782 $490 $630 $86
OnlineTires.com
877-465-8473
$1034 $705 $642 $87
Mathewson’s Automotive & Tire
271 Rainier Ave N, Renton, 425-226-2965
$948 $548 $640 $89
West Hills Honda
520 W Hills Blvd, Bremerton, 360-377-1100
$1200 $680 $620 $90
Elliott Tire & Service Center
13018 NE 175th St, Woodinville, 425-481-8211
$1211 $865 $497 $549 $91
DiscountTireDirect.com
$1015 $828 $544 $650 $92
Klein Honda
10611 Evergreen Way S, Everett, 425-355-7500
$1113 $734 $612 $596 $92
TireBuyer.com
866-961-8668
$1086 $830 $526 $642 $92
TireRack.com
888-541-1777
$1003 $836 $549 $658 $92
Big O Tires
10658 SE 180th St, Renton, 425-235-9417
$982 $950 $538 $642 $94
Rairdon’s Honda of Burien
15026 1st Ave S, Burien, 800-523-9096
$1067 $643 $566 $94
Sam’s Club
901 S Grady Way, Renton, 425-793-7443
$1100 $845 $589 $616 $95
Sam’s Club
13550 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, 206-362-6700
$1100 $845 $589 $616 $95
Sound Ford
101 SW Grady Way, Renton, 425-235-1000
$928 $964 $568 $652 $95
Pep Boys
266 SW 153rd St, Burien, 206-246-4465
$578 $646 $96
Pep Boys
12540 NE 124th St, Kirkland, 425-821-9200
$578 $646 $96
Affordable Tire & Factory Service
908 NE 47th St, Seattle, 206-632-8473
$970 $934 $592 $678 $97
Kirkland Tire Factory
602 6th St, Kirkland, 425-822-8251
$1178 $910 $550 $622 $97
Sears
2200 148th Ave NE, Redmond, 425-644-6749
$484 $772 $97
Sears
4502 S Steele St, Tacoma, 253-471-7100
$484 $772 $97
Rick’s Tire & Service
12200 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, 206-363-4600
$1281 $752 $714 $99
Eastside Automotive & Tire
14923 NE 20th St, Bellevue, 425-747-9353
$1199 $739 $635 $724 $100
Factory Direct Tire Sales
22617 76th Ave W #108, Edmonds, 425-774-5131
$1100 $940 $596 $676 $100
Elliott Tire & Service Center
444 Elliott Ave W, Seattle, 206-284-0600
$1336 $817 $607 $662 $101
Horizon Ford
11000 Tukwila International Blvd, Seattle, 206-763-9100
$988 $988 $628 $712 $101
Interstate Tire & Automotive
119 S 160th St, Burien, 206-246-6252
$1225 $1000 $550 $700 $103
Johnson & Son Tire
14985 N Kelsey St, Monroe, 360-805-8800
$1366 $844 $608 $735 $105
Lakewood Ford
11503 Pacific Hwy SW, Lakewood, 253-474-0511
$1031 $1071 $635 $728 $105
Les Schwab Tire Center
710 Ranier Ave S, Renton, 425-255-0466
$1076 $985 $674 $709 $105
Affordable Tire & Factory Service
3300 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, Seattle, 206-725-7699
$1172 $870 $554 $914 $106
Eagle Tire & Automotive
1515 S 344th St, Federal Way, 253-838-2424
$1257 $993 $685 $610 $106
Elliott Tire & Service Center
5601 15th Ave NW, Seattle, 206-783-4423
$1321 $975 $662 $106
Firestone Complete Auto Care
215 Andover Park W, Seattle, 206-538-6272
$1251 $871 $667 $779 $108
Firestone Complete Auto Care
421 Union Ave NE, Renton, 425-496-7597
$1251 $871 $667 $779 $108
Redmond Tire Factory
17657 Redmond Way, Redmond, 425-885-4848
$1344 $904 $664 $700 $108
University Place Tire Center
2211 70th Ave W, University Place, 253-566-3503
$1230 $1065 $626 $687 $108
Eagle Tire & Automotive
5500 Olympic Dr, Gig Harbor, 253-857-5558
$1245 $1054 $672 $702 $110
Tiny’s Tire Factory of Tacoma
10805 Pacific Ave S, Tacoma, 253-531-4535
$1379 $895 $675 $763 $111
Affordable Tire & Factory Service
3620 15th Ave W, Seattle, 206-281-8221
$1423 $920 $708 $720 $112
South Tacoma Honda
7802 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253-472-2300
$784 $113
Kitsap Tire Center
20245 Viking Ave NW, Poulsbo, 360-779-9900
$1508 $1120 $680 $680 $117
Bickford Ford & Trailers
3100 Bickford Ave, Snohomish, 360-568-2122
$1119 $1155 $759 $843 $119
Courtesy Automotive & Tire
4820 California Ave SW, Seattle, 206-932-5044
$1435 $1112 $819 $122
Warren Secord Automotive & Tire Factory
1127 W Smith St #101, Kent, 253-852-1492
$1779 $780 $877 $137