So my car needed new tires. I “knew” this, in a “my car’s alignment was out of whack and unevenly wore on the tires as a result so they won’t last much longer” way, but my old self, the “just wait ’til it happens self”, had taken over apparently and I really didn’t save too much towards this endeavor thus far. There’s mistake number one – my shortsightedness. The budget said $50/month towards vehicle maintenance, and that was what I saved, even though some of that was used for the car ignition repair in the process. And we are going on this long trip in my car in a few weeks. Never mind the driving to the east coast in the snow for Christmas. But I digress.
I’ve split up the tire odyssey into two parts. This will be about how we got the tires, the things we did right and the things we should have done better, and how my spouse is now my hero. Tomorrow I’ll post all the financial implications, including how we’re working them into the budget, what effect it has on our emergency fund, and how it sucks that everything wants to hammer me in October. But anyway….
So I sent the car with my spouse to get an oil change and the tires rotated. We have recently switched from going to mechanic A, who sucks, to mechanic B, who does not. It took us a while to realize the depth of mechanic A’s suckiness which is why we hadn’t switched to someone else earlier. When mechanic B looked at the car, he wouldn’t even rotate the tires because they were in such bad shape. I had been checking the tread on the tires, but because of the previous alignment problem (which, by the way, was back, thanks mechanic A who did the alignment 6 months ago!), the wear was uneven and apparently I wasn’t looking in the right spots. So, we obviously needed new tires. My spouse and the car came home to discuss the issue.
We decided to check around at several of the local tire places, including the one attached to mechanic B, and see what kind of price we could get. We were getting a few discounts from mechanic B, including a discount on the alignment and a $25 coupon off the price of all 4 tires. My spouse had brought home only one tire quote from mechanic B, so he called them first to find out if there were any less expensive tires available. While on the phone with them, mechanic B offered him a one day only must buy today unadvertised special on an upgraded set of tires he could give us, including alignment, for $399 including tax, which was also the price of the low end tires we were inquiring about. With our coupon that brought the price to $374.
red flag…. red flag… one day only… unadvertised special… red flag….
Well, the red flag was working on my spouse. These were 60,000 mile name brand tires vs the 40,000 mile ones we had been investigating, and I could tell it made him more comfortable to buy these vs cheaper ones. But, I couldn’t just walk in and plunk down all that money without at least doing a little investigation. So instead of calling a dozen places, my spouse just called the biggest competitor and got their prices. The equivalent tires to these unadvertised special ones was much more expensive, but their 40,000 mile tires were actually $363 including alignment, slightly lower than the other price even without a special coupon. My spouse asked me if he could just get the better tires for $11 more and I agreed. For me, I’d rather have the 40,000 ones for less, because it will take me 5 years to put that many miles on that car, but I knew it meant a lot to my spouse to have the better tires.
But there’s the next mistake we made (and knew we were making) – we fell for a “must buy today” high pressure sales tactic and didn’t do all the research we could have. There are dozens of tire places and spending a few days really doing all the legwork may have saved us some money. It is done now, but I *knew* the car would need tires sooner rather than later. We should have been doing research all along, but other than getting a quote from mechanic B the last time my spouse was there with his own car, we’d done nothing. Which is why we couldn’t make a completely informed decision on the “deal”. Ah, welcome to mistake number 2.
But this is where this story gets totally awesome. And all due to my spouse. I wasn’t there for it, but I really wish I was. My spouse is maybe the least assertive person I know. He hates talking to people on the phone, he hates negotiating, he basically hates confrontation of any kind. When he brought the car in for the new tires, he found out that he couldn’t use our coupon because these tires on special weren’t Goodyear tires, they were Republic tires (yes, mechanic B is attached to Goodyear). Well, my spouse said thanks but no thanks, he was going across the street to Firestone then where he could get tires for $363. I know how hard that must have been for him to do, and I’m so proud of him for sticking up for himself. After some finagling with the computer, the Goodyear guy said he could give us the tires and alignment for $362.97, and so he did. Yay for the power of being ready to walk!
So my car has four new tires, the alignment is fixed, and we are out $362.97. Which we paid for with our debit card. The money has already left our account for Goodyear’s pockets. The car is all good to go for our trip next week. And I am hugely proud of my spouse and his negotiating. Tomorrow I’ll detail the effect this is going to have on our budget, our emergency fund, that extra paycheck we were looking forward to in November, and what I had actually saved up and the shortfall we’ll have to overcome. ‘Til then… we have 4 new tires that my spouse got for cheap.