Buying Tires

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I was out buying tires with my son yesterday. That’s when he had to face reality. Buying the cool Xterra with the big tires sure looks nice, but when it comes time to replace them, those donuts aren’t cheap.

Here’s a column I wrote for The Arizona Republic about why people need to do more than just kick the tires when they’re buying a car:

If you’re thinking about buying a new or used car, take a quick look at the tires.

Somewhere along the line tires went from being a practical necessity to a fashion accessory. And like all fashion accessories, it can cost you plenty if you’re not careful.

A great example is the Toyota Sienna. It’s a great mini-van, but according to the folks at Consumer Reports, if you get the all-wheel drive model, you get run flat tires. Run flat tires have stiffer sidewalls. If you get a flat, you can keep driving because the side wall can handle your car’s weight. The downside? Run flat tires are not cheap. A quick price check shows the run flat tires cost at least $70 more than the same sized regular tire. Add in the fact that experts recommend replacing all four tires at once on all wheel drive cars and that one option can suddenly cost a lot.

Nearly every car model has a fancier version with better tires. Bigger wider tires will always cost more to replace.  And the tires are just an example of how getting something extra has long-term costs. Will the built-in GPS system require upgrades? Will the turbo charged version cost extra to repair? Compare prices for routine maintenance. Costs for simple items like oil changes or brake pads can vary depending on the type of car you choose. Buy the car you want. But when it comes to choosing models and options, don’t forget to look at the long-term costs as well.

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