Let’s face it, buying tires sucks. They are expensive and you get little to no benefit out of them. It’s not like you are going to go out and stare at them and think how awesome they are. You aren’t going to go around to your friends and say “Man, check out my awesome new tires”. Tires are an occasionally replaced item on your vehicle, which for most people gets you from point A to B and is not a source of pride.

My tires had to be replaced back in the spring of 2006 on my daily driver, as if I have some other car that is for special occasions, due to a nail or some other road debris. Sometime in the last 2 weeks I managed to run over a nice silver screw, often times the result of living in a neighborhood with new construction. The massive cold front and loads of sleet and ice must have altered the tire and pressure as the screw that was currently acting as a seal let all the air out of my tire. Knowing I didn’t have road hazard on these tires I tried to find a way to not have to shell out $60-80 for a new tire. Alas, it couldn’t be repaired and I had to purchase a new one.

Here’s where it gets tricky. I recently finished reading Freakonomics, which is a great book by the way, and so I’ve been doing a little lateral thinking and keeping my eye out for the incentive that drives people and businesses to do things. There are a few obvious incentives at play when purchasing when you find yourself in my situation. Discount Tire fixes flat tires for free. This is an obvious incentive for me to take my car/tire to them when it goes flat right? $0 to fix something sounds like I’m the one coming out ahead. The advantage shifts when that tire is unable to be fixed, as was the case for me.

Consider for a moment the decision for the tire tech to declare my tire “irreparable”. One one hand, if he fixes the tire I may come back when it’s time to buy tires again and he’s made a potential customer happy. On the other hand, if he doesn’t fix the tire he gets a sure fire sale today, not somewhere down the line. The latter choice may be good for him, but I may not be so happy and furthermore if I suspect the tire might possibly be able to be repaired I won’t just be unhappy I could downright be angry.

In my case, I knew the tire couldn’t be fixed, but I really had no other choice in the matter so I wasn’t angry when I was informed about the fate of the tire. My total cost? $25 for a $64 tire. How can that be? There was a wildcard that I hadn’t considered: Warranty. The tires, while not carrying roadhazard protection, were still under a manufacturer’s warranty that allowed me a prorated refund of the bad tire that covered all but $10 of the new tire with installation/rotation/stem costing extra of course. This of course turns into a win/win situation. Discount Tire got the sale immediately and I was happy that it only cost me $25 (ignoring the fact that it could have been $0 if it was able to be repaired since that magically slipped from my mind when I heard the savings I was getting).

So there you have it, my over-analysis of buying a new tire and how that will keep me as a Discount Tire customer for life. I guess in the end, the title of this post is a little misleading since the body almost seems to imply that I am being tricked into thinking I got a good deal when the reality is that the entire experience was downright pleasant and I’ve always been a Discount Tire customer. At any rate, I have $54 more in my pocket than I would have if the warranty didn’t exist, but $25 poorer than if the tire could be repaired. It’s a double edged sword I suppose.