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Why Buy Your Tires at Costco

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Costco occasionally sends out Passport to Savings, which are glorified coupon books for their warehouses. One of the most important things about this book is if it lists a sale on tires – a frequent event. Buying tires at Costco is typically a little higher than a straight purchase from TireRack.com but after you factor in installation and disposal of old tires (at around $20 total per tire), many times the higher price is justified for the perks. For June, you can save $60 on the purchase of four Michelin tires which for some tires can mean “Buy 3, Get 1 Free.”

Why did I buy my tires from Costco?

  1. Lifetime Warranty Replacement – If for any reason your tire goes flat, Costco will attempt to repair the tire or give you credit for the percentage of tread that remains. If it goes flat and the tire is pretty close to full tread, they just replace it for free. My girlfriend’s Celica had what appeared like an intentionally slashed tire (she was driving on the NJ Turnpike in reality) and Costco replaced the tire free of charge. They’re not supposed to fix intentional problems but they let it slide – it’s pretty subjective I think.
  2. Lifetime Rotation & Balancing – If you figure a rotation and balance at around $15, you can actually stop being a cheapskate and rotate your tires on schedule. The only pain is waiting for the service to be completed, which is quick if you arrive early morning on a weekday.
  3. Inflation with Nitrogen – They use nitrogen which is supposed to keep pressure better than air with changing temperatures. It’s supposed to also stay inflated better. I don’t necessarily believe the hype but whatever. They also inflate to optimal pressures when they rotate and balance. WARNING: That’s why your tires have green inflation tube caps, you cannot put in regular air at the gas station!

The lifetime warranty is the primary reason why I pay the premium to get the tires installed at Costco. If you decide to use Costco, call ahead to make sure the tires are in stock. If they aren’t, all you need is your membership card and a deposit and they will order the tires in. Shipping is free and they usually arrive within seven to ten days. If you don’t happen to have the coupon, they have copies at the register and will probably scan it for you since, in theory since you are a Costco cardholder, you should’ve received it anyway (just tell them you forgot it).

I know of friends who get tires shipped to NTB or a local service station to get them installed but I don’t believe many of those have the warranty like Costco.

To see if you have a Costco nearby, use their Warehouse Locator.

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65 Responses to “Why Buy Your Tires at Costco”

  1. CK says:

    I’m pretty sure topping a nitrogen filled tire off with a bit of “regular” air from a gas station isn’t going to cause any harm. Seeing as the atmosphere is about 78% nitrogen by volume.

  2. nitpicker says:

    The main reason for using dry nitrogen to fill tires is to avoid oxygen and moisture. Oxygen and moisture can cause the tire to wear out faster along with other other bad things. The air from a standard compressor has oxygen and moisture. While topping it off isn’t the end of the world, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it “isn’t going to cause any harm”. CK – if you don’t know what you are talking about you should keep quiet.

    • Eric Rotermund says:

      Really!!! Come on now get real , why not use your brain. A flat tire wears out in feet not miles. It’s better to top off , and if you must have pure nitrogen
      Tell the shop they will pull the valve core and top it off. K

    • jeff says:

      nitpicker, you’re a sucker if you buy into the N2 thing. You have no business expressing your uninformed opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      Listen you nut job air and nitrogen are both passe. Argon is the way to go! You can drive from the center of the earth to the outer limits with it. Spread the word don’t let the man or nitpicker surpress the truth!

  3. Dustin says:

    Actually you CAN put regular air in Costco tire filled with nitrogen, it will reduce the % concentration of nitrogen but not really “hurt” anything or void any warranties from Costco. It’s stupid to drive around with low tires looking for a Costco with nitrogen. Just let then know that you have topped them off when they service your tires and they can purge them with nitrogen. Nitrogen is better but I would, and am, going so far as to say that regular air WON’T cause any harm, not significant damage anyhow… and I DO know what I am talking about.

    Regular air can cause a tire to oxidize quicker and the moisture in our air will cause a tire to expand more when hot than nitrogen. Moisture and oxygen won’t cause a tire to wear significantally faster, however. Nitrogen just makes for a more consistent tire/contact patch while driving.

    Costco does ROCK, though. They are open later during the week and on Sunday unlike most other dealers.

  4. Tim says:

    Costco is ok. The price of the tires is the best but the service is a pain. They don’t do appoinments so you have to show up and gamble. Also their technicians aren’t always the greatest. I bought a set of truck tires. One wheel would not balance, they told me my wheel must be bent and sent me on my way with vibrations (lots of weight added to minimize vibration). About 10,000 kms later, after running the “bent” wheel on the rear I decided to get the wheel repaired so I could rotate the tires to keep the warranty. Turns out the wheel is straight as can be…it is a bad tire (BFG AT). A real tire/wheel shop probably would have spotted that error from the start. So now I’m trying to deal with it. I think it must just be a company policy not to answer phones at Costco. So of course I have to drive to the suburbs to speak to someone about it, then probably wait awhile for that one tire to come in, then drive out and wait again for the install. When I factor in my time and the P.I.T.A. factor, I’ll gladly pay $100 extra for my next set of tires at my local tire/wheel shop.

    Valuing my time at $20/hr (far less than I actually can bill for) I’m already in the hole compared to what my local tire shop would have charged me. Spending $1.50 to save $1.00 is no bargain.

  5. susie says:

    I spent over $900.00 on 4 new tires with the $60.00 off Special at Costco on Saturday. I got home and was a little pissed off about spending all that money and getting these ugly green tube caps instead of black or silver. I pretty much didn’t stop complaining until my husband bought 4 chrome looking caps to replace them. We threw the green things in the trash and then I just read on the internet about this Nitrogen …….Save Fuel…….”Get the Green Cap” stuff. Wouldn’t you think someone at Costco would tell the customer???????? Does that mean I can only fill them up at Costco with special Nitrogen???????????? Does that mean I can’t pretend it’s a regular tire and use regular air???????????

    • BUD says:

      You poor thing, green caps how embarassing! I hope your neighbors didn’t see them

    • ken says:

      you can use regular compressed air. to top off with nitrogen from costco. You will not get 100% nitrogen in your tires. I used to deflate and inflate my tires with nitrogen 3-6 times and i still can’t get 100% nitrogen. 80-90% most. we used to have it back it 2005 at dealership last for couples of month and no body would pay for it $25 to filled with nitro Rec. driving no need nitrogen. nascar do inflated with nitrogen. do don’t worry about it. green cap just tell you that you have nitro. or chrome cap it’s also fine just to keep the dirt out.

  6. Jerry says:

    Hi folks,
    As a scientist with a lot of chemistry classes in my past, my friends have been asking me about paying extra for nitrogen in their tires. The short answer is that this is really good marketing and only a little science. Consumer Reports agrees. Even using dry nitrogen, you still have to check tire pressure at least monthly and fill up almost the same number of times per year. Tires will be damaged far more from being underinflated than they ever would be by mixing air with your nitrogen. Dustin is right- air is mostly nitrogen anyway. Use nitrogen only if it’s free, otherwise use air.
    Let’s use some common sense. We’ve all been driving with moist air in our tires for years. My first car used nothing else and it never scared me. My rims never rusted out, so a little oxygen and moisture inside won’t kill them (or you). My tires always had their tread wear out from the outside, not the inside. Finally, if “moisture” was so very terrible for tires and rims, our cars would have warning labels that said “Do not drive in the rain.” (Not to mention that if “oxygen” was so bad, the warning labels would say “Do not drive your car on Earth.”, right?)
    Nitpicker, fellow, if you’re going to correct others, at least try to have some facts on your side.
    regards,
    Jerry (BS, MA, AC, and MS, whoopee, if degrees impress anyone)

  7. Dustin says:

    Tim, don’t deal with that tire man! Costco stands behind their products. Too bad they don’t answer the phone, missing out on a lot of sales/customers that way. Call the warehouse direct, speak with a manager there and tell them you can’t get in contact with the tire center. That will embarrass them (I know, shouldn’t have to go to that extent). As far as a “real” tire/rim shop goes, no one in the tire industry pays better than Costco. Let’s not forget business’s are made up of people. The company that pays the best, on average, will have the best people. Don’t be so eager to think a shop that sells rims AND tires will have any better training, this isn’t rocket science. A tire/rim shop, however, is more than likely making more money of you (higher markup) than Costco. They may sometimes have some cheaper tires but that’s exactly what you are getting… CHEAPER brands. Compare apples to apples and Costco will win everytime. I’ve been to other tire stores and their wait times are just as consistent (or inconsistent) as Costco’s… just like a freeway, sometimes they just get backed up, not really anyones fault… bottlenecks happen when 20 people all want service at the same time.

    And Susie, just request Costco install BLACK CAPS next time. As far as can you inflate with regular air… see the half-dozen posts already … umm… posted. Or here’s a novel idea, ask your tire dealer, not some jerkeys on the internet! The costco’s I’ve been too have Nitrogen banners, brochures, etc all over the place (pay attention!). I agree though they should at least give you a brochure or something! (I got one when I bought my last set).

    Jerry, I had a set of chrome rims that corroded internally and the chrome “paint” flaked off inside the tire and the exposed rim started to rust, corrode, oxidize. May have been excelerated by moisture? I know how much water I get out of my compressor at home when I run it, you might be suprised.

  8. Judy says:

    Costco tires does not honor their road hazard warranty!
    Twice now they have asked me to purchase a new tire (first time was then my tires were ONE WEEK OLD) when I had a road hazard. They broke my wheel cover removal tool without replacing it or compensating me. This second time (this is WITH PROOF OF ROTATING TIRES and proper inflation) – 13,000 miles into a 45,000 mile set of tires — they insist that not just the road hazard tire is worn out (road hazard violates manufacturer’s 45,000 warranty) – but the other tire is worn out as well. Discount Tires said that the tires are not worn out at all.

    BEWARE OF COSTCO TIRES!!!!

  9. TireGuy says:

    Costco does have good tire prices, no doubt. What people dont know about Costco is that if you buy a michelin or goodyear etc… from costco and you have a problem, you can only go back to costco if you need roadhazard warranty.

    Major manufacturers add that into the average retailers price. Costco has made a deal to lower there price with the manufacterer by having there own
    “roadhazard” if you are out of a costco area and you need another tire and costco says you have warranty you dont. when you show another retailer your receipt and its from costco you will be denied, same as if the were purchased from wal-mart.

    As for the nitrogen, it a crock and just a consumer money grab. The difference is so minimal from air noone can tell. As for the wheel rusting on the inside and the chrome flaking off, well thats cause from the high rpm wire wheel and a air compressor without a air/water filter on it. You can not say that the condensation from the compressor (if properly serviced) is doing that to your wheels, if that was the point tires would have water in them from the condensation and your tires would never balance due to that.

  10. Frank Kim says:

    Thanks. I tried them out today. Hope it works out. :-)

  11. Ford Fan says:

    Engineer talking here: The ugly green valve caps are just a sign to the Costco guys that they put the tires on. They are no different than standard caps. Costco is not so stupid as to get special valve stems made that would prevent you from adding air elsewhere.

    Nitrogen leaks out slower than air, because air contains a small amount of hydrogen and helium which leak out faster because they are smaller molecules. The only advantage of nitrogen is the tires hold pressure a bit longer. The nitrogen separator/air dryer at Costco and tire stores adds the benefit of removing moisture and ozone, so you do get nice dry air in the tires that cuts down on rim corrosion, and ozone deterioration. Ozone is one gas that breaks down rubber rapidly. A tire store with a good moisture separator on their air compressor is just about as good. DO NOT PAY a PENNY EXTRA FOR NITROGEN; IT IS ONLY MARGINALLY BETTER. My tires do stay at pressure longer with nitrogen.

    • Jeff in SoCal says:

      Hydrogen & helium are such a small part of the atmosphere (0.000055% & 0.000524%) that they can completely leak out and not cause a measurable change in your tire pressure.

      The only significant benefit is the lack of moisture. A tire will have worn out on the outside before oxygen causes any significant damage to its inside, so excluding oxygen is also insignificant. Ozone (plus sunlight) will destroy a tire’s exterior before any significant damage is done to the interior.

  12. Eddie Bauer says:

    I find the nitrogen filled tires are much less suceptible to pressure variations resulting from temperature fluctuations. On very cold mornings, I do not have the TPMS trips as I do with other vehicles even with my TPMS set to trip at 10% below recommended pressure.

  13. bradpipal says:

    Costco covered sidewall damage from a one and one-half inch thick steel plate. No charge, thank you Costco.

  14. Anonymous says:

    For the average driver, the advantage to nitrogen is it does not leak out as fast as air.

  15. Melissa says:

    Can I put gas station air in nitrogen filled tires?

  16. akapc says:

    You can put air in the tires even if they have a green cap. What’s in the tires just becomes … air. No worse than when it was all just air. There is nothing special about the green caps – just a reminder. Plus they look nice.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I needed 4 tires for my 2004 BMW X5 which only had 35000 miles. I shopped around and found that the bestdeal was at Costco. I also found a $70 off coupon which paid for the sales tax. I was not expectingmuch interms of service and I was pleasantly surprised. I received periodic emails from COSTCO informing me of the status of my order. In the end I receivd both a phone call from the COSTCO Miami location where my tires had been delivered in addition to the final delivery confirmation email. I went today and when I arrived I was greeted by a sales person by the name of Jonnathan who quickly found my order and informed me that installation would take a little over 2 hors because of other orders ahead of mine. I left my key and went to the Warehouse to have a pizza lunch and used the time to work as I had my laptp with me. It was a pleasant afternoon and, as always, the pizza was great and the staff friendly. Even one of the managers walkd by and welcomed me. It must have been odd seeing a gentleman eatig pizza at COSTCO while working on a laptop. I am sure they realized I was probably either waiting for someone to shop or waiting for tire intsallation. I returned and the car was nearly finished. The tire store had ample seating for cutomers and the area was extremely clean. In the end, Jonnathan returned with my receipt and the information regarding the FREE tire rotation servie as well as the free flat repair service. I was so pleased that I gave the young man installing my tires a hefty tip for his work and kindness. COSTCO could not be beat in Miami in terms of price and service. I never thought that buying tires could be so smooth and pleasant. Oh, placing the order online was also exremly simple. I followed the advice of other websites and simply ordered the same tires that came with the car from the factory. Don’t waste your time going anywhere else especially if COSTCO has a coupon offer. The new Michelin tires are superb.

  18. hilarion martinez says:

    I needed 4 tires for my 2004 BMW X5 which only had 35000 miles. I shopped around and found that the bestdeal was at Costco. I also found a $70 off coupon which paid for the sales tax. I was not expectingmuch interms of service and I was pleasantly surprised. I received periodic emails from COSTCO informing me of the status of my order. In the end I receivd both a phone call from the COSTCO Miami location where my tires had been delivered in addition to the final delivery confirmation email. I went today and when I arrived I was greeted by a sales person by the name of Jonnathan who quickly found my order and informed me that installation would take a little over 2 hors because of other orders ahead of mine. I left my key and went to the Warehouse to have a pizza lunch and used the time to work as I had my laptp with me. It was a pleasant afternoon and, as always, the pizza was great and the staff friendly. Even one of the managers walkd by and welcomed me. It must have been odd seeing a gentleman eatig pizza at COSTCO while working on a laptop. I am sure they realized I was probably either waiting for someone to shop or waiting for tire intsallation. I returned and the car was nearly finished. The tire store had ample seating for cutomers and the area was extremely clean. In the end, Jonnathan returned with my receipt and the information regarding the FREE tire rotation servie as well as the free flat repair service. I was so pleased that I gave the young man installing my tires a hefty tip for his work and kindness. COSTCO could not be beat in Miami in terms of price and service. I never thought that buying tires could be so smooth and pleasant. Oh, placing the order online was also exremly simple. I followed the advice of other websites and simply ordered the same tires that came with the car from the factory. Don’t waste your time going anywhere else especially if COSTCO has a coupon offer. The new Michelin tires are superb.

  19. joseph says:

    At what miles should you rotate your tires?

  20. gpzkat says:

    I bought a set of Michelins years ago at Costco for my Taurus. They had a 60K warrantee. At 40K they were pretty shot so I went in to see how much my pro rata ‘adjustment’ would be, knowing how this is a standard scam on consumers. A bit nervous, I asked if I could use the pro rata toward another brand because I was thin on cash at the time. They guy took the measurements, said that the tires were worn past their service limit, and he replaced all 4 with brand new Michelins, free of charge! I felt like doing donuts out of the parking lot I was so happy. Thanks Costco, you got a customer for life from that and many many more positive experiences

  21. tomb says:

    gpzkat,

    Really? My tires (with a supposed 80,000 mi warranty) have may 1-2 millimeters left (the wear bars will be touching the pavement in another 2-3000 miles although the tires only have 40,000 miles on them). I went to Costco and they said 1) they won’t do anything until they’re completely worn, and 2) I need proof that the inflation was checked every month and the tires were rotated every 5k. Since I do this myself, how am I supposed to prove it? (they won’t take my word). The tires are obviously evenly worn all across.

  22. fritz says:

    Nitrogen is used instead of air in Costco’s tires because it contains larger molecules, preventing it from from escaping as easily as air. It is also dryer, so that it does not contribute to tire deterioration.
    Regular air can be added to it if necessary with no problems.

  23. Robert says:

    Nitrogen is simply a marketing tactic to get more money from consumers. The aviation industry has been putting nitrogen in aircraft tires for years including the Space Shuttle Orbiter’s. (used to work at Edwards Air Force Base) Pure nitrogen does not expand as much as atmospheric air does at higher temps. Nitrogen won’t do a thing for your car tires unless you’re driving at speeds above 200 mph and intend on stomping on the brakes. Tell your friends, and tell them to tell their friends. You’re getting ripped off if you pay more for this “additional service”.

  24. David says:

    The Costco warrenty is worthless. Its a high volume shop as a “convenience” to customers. Costco does not have tire alignment equipment either, its not a safe place to buy tires for the family.

    I bought a 2002 Toyota Camry new from the dealer, and at around 30,000 replaced the dealer tires with BF Goodrich from Costco in Carlsbad, CA. The car has only been to the dealer and Costco after oil changes for tire rotations. The Costco guarantee is for 70,000 miles, however after 50,000 miles 2 tires have 2/32 left and Costco is fighting us on honoring the warrenty. We’re getting cheap tires which wear out 20,000 early, but because its “Costco” it seems good. Its ok to risk a big screen and if it breaks return it to Costco — but don’t risk your family’s safety..

    Costco looks like a good deal, perhaps Sears or another place is more honest.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Race cars don’t inflate tires with air…

    • Rich says:

      Whenever you change your tires ask them straight off hand “are you honest? Do you honor your promises? Yes then ask them to write it down on your receipt with the managers signature. This makes it easier to go back. Really it works even if people and manager changes or whether your are at another store.
      This just so much wiser!


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