So you went to the dealership, bought a brand-new car, and now, you’re enrolled in the dealership’s “Free Tires for Life” program.
Free tires for life obviously sounds like a great deal, but there’s a catch. Read the fine print and you’ll discover you have to get your tires balanced every 7,500 miles, an alignment every year, an annual inspection, early fluid exchanges and routine oil changes at the dealership to qualify for your free tires.
Before committing to this, there are a few questions you should ask to see if these so-called “free tires” are worth it:
How Often Do Tires Need to Be Balanced?
To maintain eligibility in the Free Tires for Life program, you have to come in every 7,500 miles to have your tires balanced. Do you need to have your tires balanced every 7,500 miles? No.
Once tires are mounted and balanced, they almost never need rebalancing. However, proper tire maintenance dictates that tires should be inspected and rebalanced (if necessary) each time you have your tires rotated. And at the very least, they should be checked for imbalances any time you experience a vibration. But for the majority of the tires rolling across America, they’re balanced once in their lifetime.
How Often Do I Need to Get an Alignment?
To maintain eligibility in the Free Tires for Life program, you have to come in every year for an alignment. Do you need to get an alignment every year? No.
The interval can vary depending on the type of vehicle, your driving habits, and other factors. Most mechanics recommend that you get an alignment once every two or three years. However, the best thing to do is to follow the recommended interval in your owner’s manual. Signs that indicate you may need an alignment include: an off-center steering wheel, edge wear on tires, or a pull in one direction when driving.
How Often Do I Need to Flush my Power Steering or Brake Fluid?
Many programs require you to get your power steering and brake fluid flushed several times before 30,000 miles. Do you need to? No.
Steering systems and brake systems are generally flushed every two years. Fresh fluid will keep your power steering pump and steering gear trouble free. Brake fluid can retain moisture, which can increase stopping distance on hard stops. Replacing these fluids on vehicles with less than 30,000 miles, at an average cost of $125 each, is excessive.
Let’s say new tires are $400 a set and you’ll need new tires after three years. If tire balancing costs $40, you’re shelling out $240 over the three-year period before getting your free tires. If an alignment is $100, you’re in for another $300 before you get free tires. That’s $540 of unnecessary services you’ve just paid for. Not to mention the all the inconvenienced hours spent taking your car in for service.
Don’t get taken for a ride by the dealership. Instead of spending an excessive amount of time and money trying to maintain eligibility for what are not-so-free tires, buy your own tires and find an independent mechanic like M&W Tire to install them as well as to perform the routine maintenance your car actually needs.
M&W Auto Service & Tire is a family-owned and operated full-service auto repair and tire shop that prides itself on putting the customer first in all areas of business. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or simply want advice.