Here’s Why You Should Buy Your Tires from Costco

The difference between your usual mechanic and Costco tires could be worth the price of membership.

You’ve noticed that the tread on your tires is getting a little thin—fortunately, there’s no shortage of options for replacements. So what’s your best option if you’re looking to buy a new set of tires? Surprisingly enough, it might be Costco tires.

According to the consumer website Clark.com, Costco came out on top in a survey of 50,000 Consumer Reports subscribers who recently bought tires. Why? In a word: price. In addition to Costco tires, here are some other items you should buy at Costco.

The warehouse giant’s median cost per tire when customers bought four tires was $166. Independent retailers followed at $167. The median cost per tire at online retailers Amazon and Tirebuyer came in lower at $124 and $147 respectively. But those prices didn’t include installation and balancing, according to Clark.com. Here are some other benefits to getting your tires at Costco:

The air in your tires

Another reason you might want to consider getting your tires from Costco? The warehouse club uses nitrogen to fill its tires instead of compressed air, which is what most other dealers use. “Nitrogen retains tire pressure better over time than compressed air, which can positively impact the life of your tires, as well as the fuel economy of your vehicle,” according to Costco’s website.

But how much of a perk is nitrogen really? According to Popular Mechanics, nitrogen has definite benefits, but it’s not a necessity. “With nitrogen, your tire pressures will remain more constant, saving you a small amount in fuel and tire-maintenance costs,” Popular Mechanics reports. “There will be less moisture inside your tires, meaning less corrosion on your wheels. But if your tires were filled with nitrogen (denoted by green valve-stem caps) and you’re low on pressure, don’t be afraid to bring up your psi with regular old air.” Find out other things you aren’t buying at Costco, but should.

Consumer Reports also found that while nitrogen might improve the air retention of your tires slightly, you should still check your tire pressure once a month.

Free maintenance

Warranties and the costs of upkeep are other factors to consider when purchasing tires. Costco offers a five-year road hazard guarantee and lifetime maintenance, including free tire balancing and flat repairs. That said, Costco’s list of reviews and complaints shows that the perks of getting your tires there may not always play out well in practice. One Costco-verified reviewer, Pam of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, wrote that after purchasing Michelin tires several months ago and bringing her car in for routine tire rotation, the service left much to be desired, with a long wait time, lost car keys, and no reminder sticker. “Their lack of management of the details leaves me to question what kind of job they did on the rotation,” writes Pam.

Consumer experts have also questioned whether Costco tires are left-over inventory that might be the worst for wear. Bottom line? If cost is your major concern and you like the idea of saving some extra pennies with nitrogen in your tires, Costco might be your best bet. But be prepared to wait. Next, check out the 15 secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Prevention, Rhode Island Monthly, and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.