Clark Howard: Beware the hidden costs of ‘premium’ tires

Have you gotten sticker shock when you needed replacement tires for your car? Chances are you may have expensive non-standard tires.

Automakers create multiple lines of a single vehicle at different price points. One of the up-sells they add to the pricier lines are fancy wheels that are larger-than-usual tires.

Some models even have speed-rated tires that are designed to perform at 149 mph or higher. We’ve all seen the commercials with stunt drivers tearing it up on closed roads. But how often do you drive even 100 mph? Do you really need those high-performance tires?

So I recommend you check out the tire size and type before you buy a car. Or simply ask the dealer about the replacement-tire price. Of course, for many people, style is king and they don’t care if they have to pay extra. But if you do care, use TireRack.com to check tire prices.

When I recently had to replace tires, I started at TireRack.com. But I wound up at Costco Wholesale. For two tires with installation I wound up paying around $600! Tires are a pricey proposition these days.

Another good place to check is Sam’s Club. In addition to free tire rotation and free repair of flats, Sam’s Club has a benefit that is unique as far as I know: Emergency roadside tire service.

For three years from purchase, Sam’s Club members have 24-hour toll-free access for emergency tire change service. Apparently they will send a truck to come deal with your flat on the side of the road!

I think that is extraordinary and I tip my hat to Sam’s Club for that. So now it’s up to you, Costco. Your arch rival has emergency roadside tire assistance —are you going to let Sam’s Club upstage you?

Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website

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