Tires (A Cautionary Tale) Continued

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If you missed the first part of this tire saga, you can read it here.

After crying for a couple of hours after arriving at my house sitting job, I calmed down a little. Actually, I calmed down after crying for a couple of hours, eating lunch, and communicating with my friend Mr. Prius through instant messaging and then an actual voice conversation. Mr. Prius helped me clarify my thoughts by asking questions and making suggestions, but never told me what he thought I should do.

The more I thought about the offer from the salesman at Discount Tire to give me a free tire if I bought three, the sketchier it seemed. I didn’t believe the tires I’d bought should be worn to the point of needing replacement after a year’s use.

As I told Mr. Prius, after the salesman saw the front tires, he acted surprised by how worn down they were. That’s when he told me I needed to get two new front tires too. I thought if the tires were wearing down faster than they should have been, it was Discount Tire’s responsibility to replace them. If the tires are supposed to last x number of miles and the tires were not going to last that long, I didn’t think that was my fault.

Once I was calm, I called the Discount Tire regional office. I explained the situation to the woman who answered the phone. She suggested I  talk to a store manager, but I said I wanted to talk to someone higher up. She said she would have a vice president call me back.

The VP called me back that afternoon. He was very nice to me, listened to me, and answered my questions. He said they could  give me $50 to $60 (depending on what replacement tires I bought) credit on each tire. That seemed like a better deal than getting one tire free, which is the “deal” the salesman was going to give me to “help me out.” Also, by giving me a credit on the prematurely worn tires, I felt as if Discount Tire were talking some responsibility, which made me feel better.

The next morning I paid a visit to the Discount Tire location closest to where I was house sitting. I talked to Larry, the manager. I felt good about what he told me.

First, despite what I understood the vice president to say, the manager said they could not give me a credit for the two tires damaged due to improper alignment. The manufacturer viewed that damage as due to my negligence and would not accept them as a return. While that decision didn’t make me happy, I understood it and thought it was fair. While I didn’t think it was my fault the tires were damaged (I didn’t even know the van was out of alignment and as soon as I did, I had it repaired as soon as possible), I could accept the damage to the tires as my responsibility.

The salesman I spoke to initially told me I needed bigger tires. The manager said it was not bigger tires I needed, but stronger tires. He said vans and big trucks are heavy and need really strong tires. Lesser tires simply wear out too fast.

The first four new tires I bought were a higher quality than what the manufacturer recommended for the van. When I went in to have the tires mounted, the recommended ones were out of stock, so they gave me a free upgrade to the next higher quality. But as far as I can remember, no one tried to tell me maybe I needed better tires. Of course, I would have probably just thought they were trying to upsell me and not bought the better quality tires anyway. Also, I was working with very little money then, so I don’t know if I would have been able to afford the better, more expensive tires.

Larry made two recommendations to me. He said Michelin tires are the best of the best. They were running about $109 per tire. He said second best, but still very good, are Yokohama tires. They were running about $10 less per tire than the Michelins. He told me he has Yokohamas on the Jeep his family uses for both driving on dirt roads and hauling around kids.

He also told me both companies were running rebate specials. He said Michelin would give a $70 rebate on the purchase of four tires, and Yokohama would give a $60 rebate on the purchase of four tires.

I had a really difficult time deciding which tires to buy. Was it woth $50 out the door to get Michelins? How much difference would having Michelins make? Would I be sorry if I bought Yokohamas in order to save a few bucks? I thought reading online reviews would help me make my decision, but my research only made making my decision more difficult. Plenty of people hate Yokohama tires, and plenty of people hate Michelin tires. What to do?

I’d decided to go with Michelin shortly before arriving for my installation appointment. However, when I told Larry I wanted the Michelins, he got a pained look on his face and said he didn’t have them in stock. He said he thought I’d decided on Yokohamas and had made sure he had those available for me. I’m not sure how he reached his conclusion, as I don’t recall a conversation when he said, so you want to go with the Yokohamas?  and I answered, yes, Yokohamas, please. As far as I was concerned, I’d only made a decision an hour before. But whatever. Larry offered to reschedule my appointment for Monday, at which time he’d have the Michelins, but I said no. I was ready to be done with the entire tire situations. The universe spoke, and the universe said Yokohama.

I got another surprise when it was time to pay. I told the worker running my debit card that I needed whatever I needed for the rebate. He said he thought the rebate hadn’t started yet. Larry was walking by, and when the worker asked him about the rebate, he said to give me an instant rebate. So the worker deducted $60 from the total, which was awesome.

This is the point in the post where I was going to give advice on buying tires. However, I realized the only advice I have about buying tires is to spend as much as you can afford to buy the best, strongest, tires you can get. Vans are heavy, especially when one is hauling around a bunch of stuff. I suspect when the manufacturer made their tire recommendations, the experts were thinking the van was going to be driven around town and/or on camping trips a few times a year. They were probably not thinking folks were going to be hauling around all the things people living in their vans are hauling around.

Invest in the best. I’ve been told the best are Michelin and Yokohama. Other people may have different opinions. That’s fine. But apparently, when it comes to tires, we get what we pay for.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

12 Responses »

  1. I’m looking forward to an update on how these tires held up, next year, and hopefully, the year after! And maybe even the year after! Sorry for your vehicle troubles. SO stressful to have that additional expense when you’re trying to live on a strict budget.

  2. Glad to hear there was a happy ending to your story. I have a yahoo group that I consult about issues as well as a very knowledgable brother who told me to buy the best when it comes to tires. So important. The other suggestion I would make is if you get a chance to weight your van fully loaded with you in it at a weight scale, you can then adjust your front end and back end weights to your front and back end weights. The recommended pressures on the tires would not match your weight categories. It is a pain but before I go out I put 50 in my front tires and 80 in my back tires and 55 in my air bags and I feel like I am riding on a cloud. Also it will give you better gas mileage with correct tire pressures. Up here we can just pull into a truck weight scale and get our weights free. You should be able to find correct tire pressures on line somewhere.

    • What kind of van do you have, Lynn?

      My recommended tire pressure is 35 psi, front and back. No one else has ever recommended I go more than 35 psi on my tires. 80 is a LOT more than 35. What is your recommended psi? Is there any danger to filling the tires with more air than recommended?

      How did you get air bags under your van? Did your van come with them, or did you install them later? Did you install them yourself or have a mechanic do it? I’ve never heard of airbags under a van. What exactly do they do? How do you add air to them? I probably could never afford to get them, but I’m interested in learning more about your experiences with them.

      • Blaize – My Nissan NV high roof recommends 50 max in the front and 80 max in the back. That is the info on the side of the driver door.

        • Marty, I don’t have any tire info on the inside of my doors. Maybe my van is so old that it peeled off at some point. In any case, 35psi is what the tire places fill the tires to. I think I will call Discount Tire and talk to Larry the manager and ask him what he thinks about filling the tires above 35psi. I can also call or text my dad. He knows a lot about motor vehicles.

      • Hi Blaize – my van is a converted Ford E350 made by Pleaureway so I have a lot more weight than you I am sure. It came with the airbags but you can get them added on too, my brand is called Ride Rite. When I first got the van, it wiggled a little going down the road but when I found out about the air bags and started to pay attention to tire pressure, huge difference. Your air pressures should be specific to your van. Mine are specific to my van and weight.

        You air them up just like a tire. They look like a tire laying down. Their purpose is to add extra support for the back end of my van which carries a lot more weight with my heavy bed. You probably don’t need airbags unless you are carrying a lot of weight.

        I would pay attention to tire pressure though, and check it every so often.

        • Yes, LynnLynn, paying attention to tire pressure is important. I have a digital gauge. For some reason I HATE checking the tire pressure and filling the tires. When I have to do that chore is one of the few times I wish I had a traveling partner so I could ask that person to take care of the tire pressure job. I need to get myself into the habit of handling it.

          Thanks for all of the information you have shared. Cheers!

  3. Never heard of adjusting tire pressure to weight of the vehicle either, but I’m no expert. I do know my husband spends what I consider to be a LOT of money on tires. Also, we need two sets of tires because we need snow tires in the winter months. We have 2 cars we drive, 1 he shows, and another one he used to show but needs work, so I guess we are pretty much ALWAYS buying tires.
    I know he has bought Michelins before and some other Japanese sounding brand, but I don’t know which. At any rate, I hope you are well set for tires now and are happy they made some accommodation for them wearing out so fast. I don’t know how often alignments are required, but I would think the owner’s manual would tell you. I understand you might be able to find the info on line if you no longer or never had the owner’s manual. My mr. motorhead keeps all that kind of stuff even after he gets rid of the car, I think.

    • Marcia, snow tires are one of the reasons I like to spend winters in lower elevations of the Southwest. Not only can I not afford a second pair of tires, but I also have nowhere to store them. I guess if I needed them, I would find a friend willing to store them for me in the off season.

      I suppose you are right that I should find out how often alignments are recommended. I can’t afford to lose another set of tires to improper alignment.

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