Frugal Shopper: Tire Prices Will Rise Again This Summer

May 7, 2010
Continental ContiSportContact tire on Cadillac CTS

Continental ContiSportContact tire on Cadillac CTS

Flat tire, by Flickr user Lissalou66

Flat tire, by Flickr user Lissalou66

It's spring, and if you've made it through the winter with a set of all-season radials, it's the right time to get them inspected and measure that tread. If they're getting close to needing replacement, you might save a chunk of money by doing it now versus in a few months.

Why? Now it appears that rising commodity and material prices—from development in places like China and the signs of emerging from recession elsewhere—will be requiring yet another significant price hike for passenger rubber.

That's not just conjecture; most tiremakers have announced the price hikes with at least a few weeks advance notice. According to Modern Tire Dealer, a trade publication for tire retailers and the industry, a number of North American brands are planning to raise prices by six to eight percent.

But with the cost of a set of performance tires running up to $1,000 for cars—even past the $1,200 mark per set for some luxury or crossover vehicles with performance sizes, that's big money—potentially more than $80 or more, or nearly $50 extra for average tires on a mid-size sedan.

We warned you last fall that the 35-percent U.S. tire tariff imposed on tires imported from China might significantly raise prices on the most affordable tires on the market—especially the types of tires purchased by those with older used vehicles, simply looking for a low-cost replacement. It has, with several retailers reporting to that it's led to price hikes of 15 to 20 percent or more on affected models.

While the last issue didn't affect many high-end models, performance tires, or larger sizes, this latest rise in prices will affect all tires across the board. So whether it's already time for a new set of Pirelli PZeros for your 2009 Audi R8, or throwing another set of Hankooks on the 2004 Kia Optima, you'll probably notice the difference. Here are the details of the latest price hike (note that Michelin, Firestone, Bridgestone, and others haven't yet made announcements):

  • Consumer tires for Nexen, Kumho, Toyo, and Yokohama are getting price hikes of up to 8 percent; Cooper tires sold in North America are going up another 7.5 percent; Continental and General are seeing a 7-percent hike; and Goodyear and Hankook are bumping price up 6 percent.
  • All of those will be raising prices on June 1. And as of July 1 Pirelli will follow suit, with its North American passenger and light-truck tires going up 4 percent.
  • There will also be "in-line adjustments," meaning that some models might get an even higher bump.

Unfortunately, you can't stockpile tires—they degrade with time and typically have a maximum service life of six to eight years, even if the mileage is granny-low.

So even if those tires can make it through the summer, think about doing it now and you'll probably save more than a few bucks.

[Modern Tire Dealer]

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