Save Money On Wheels and Tires

Last winter I was looking for a set of cheap steel wheels to mount winter tires on, but I couldn’t find them fast enough so I just decided to mount the snow tires on the factory alloy wheels as the tires were getting close to worn out anyways. I thought to myself, when the warm weather comes around I’ll just buy some new wheels and tires as a package so I don’t have to keep flipping tires off one set of rims (the bead can only take so many mounts/dismounts).

I had bought the snow tires down the road: a set of four 16″ snow tires was $900 installed (remember, this wasn’t including wheels). Yikes! I didn’t remember snow tires being so expensive!

Wheels And Tires On The Cheap(ish)

With the warmer weather upon us it was time to spring for new wheels and tires. For a set of really nice 17″ wheels (bigger is more expensive for wheels AND tires) and a set of decent tires my total cost was around $1,550 CAD (which I bought from a US company and picked up in the US)… Which sounds okay, until you factor in that if I had bought the same wheels and tires here in Canada, my cost would’ve been quite a bit higher. Each wheel, including shipping, from an eBay store which has decent prices would’ve been $310 EACH. So the wheels alone would’ve been $1230 CAD. For a decent set of all-season tires comparable to the ones I bought might be $800 (still cheaper than the snow tires I bought). So we are looking at perhaps $2,000. So how did I save so much money?

TireRack.com

I used a very popular online discount wheel and tire store, TireRack.com (not a paid advertisement). It’s a great site and you can even picture the wheels on your car with their handy tools. The entire package (wheels and tires) was $1120 USD including shipping to a US address (and they mount the tires and balance the wheels before shipping). Shipping to a Canadian address would’ve been $260USD, versus shipping to a US address which was $90USD. So I had them shipped to U.S. Address Inc – which is a business that just accepts deliveries for a fee and holds them for you (all you have to do is email them with your request to be set up to accept packages, provide your full contact details and that’s it – they send a confirmation message and you are all good to go!). The holding cost was $40USD. Add in the gas to get there (for me it was maybe $20 since I work in Oakville and Buffalo is right across the border). So I ended up saving an additional $190 (CAD) by having them shipped there and driving across the border to pick them up.

I still had to pay duty crossing back which was roughly $170 CAD. Total cost (including gas to get there) was roughly $1550 CAD. So in all, almost a 25% savings.

The picture above (if you are reading the feed, you’ll have to visit the site) are the actual wheels I picked and I love them. They look great, and I paid a lot less than I thought I would.

…but the best part

But the best part was that on the way back as I was getting out of the car to go in to pay the duty, one of the border guards pointed at me and said, “Preet Banerjee!… From the blog!” I was totally taken back, and I bet I was WAY more excited than he was that he recognized me. Turns out he’s a regular reader of Million Dollar Journey and only knew about me from one of Frugaltrader’s links… oh well, no accounting for taste…:) JUST KIDDING FT! You’re the best! :)

Also…

I have to give credit and thanks to Ancaster Sasquatch (not his real name, but it could be). Not only was he the source of the inspiration behind finding U.S. Address Inc., he also single handedly swapped my wheels and tires in his driveway (I was wearing a suit and have become a wuss since once being a mechanic many moons ago). We ended up going out for dinner and had a great time catching up on old times… Thanks you sexy beast! :)

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 16 comments
  • Jordan

    A word of warning if you think you can save even more by having the tires installed in the US and not declare them when driving back watch out, because any modification to a vehicle can result in a duty & fine against the ENTIRE value of the vehicle, not just the tires/wheels. My brother found that one out the hard way.

  • Preet

    @Jordan – thanks for that great tip, I had no idea they could do that!

  • FT

    LOL Preet, too funny! Did you give him your autograph? :)

    So I may be heading to Toronto sometime near the end of May for a short trip. Might be a good idea to get some bloggers together and have some beer!

  • Preet

    @FT – sounds good! Let us know the dates and we’ll set it up!

  • nobleea

    I’ve bought a full winter set with rims from tire rack and was pleased with the speed and price.
    I have also used 1010tires, which is out of Vancouver, as they had good pricing on some end of season winter tires, and faster/cheaper shipping.

    I would never buy tires locally. Maybe cheap costco specials for a minivan, but nothing more than that.

  • Al R

    I used Tirerack in the fall to pick up some new Michelin Xi2s. Great prices, great service. Given the winter tire shortage (thanks Quebec!), I probably wouldn’t have even been able to get these tires through a Canadian supplier. All I all I saved around $250 or 25%.

    There’s a UPS store in Ogdensburgh, NY (~1hr from Ottawa) that accepts packages for $5. Perhaps something to check out instead of U.S. Address Inc.?

  • gene

    lol. Canada Customs guy: “Welcome back to Canada, Preet. Those wheels and tires have depreciated enough for you to avoid duty.” Wink Wink.

  • Preet

    @nobleea – thanks for the input. I’ve never used 1010tires, but heard good things as well.

    @Al R – didn’t know UPS offered that – great idea! I’ll look them up.

    @gene – I tried, but no luck. ;)

  • Ancaster Sasquatch

    What, no mention of the super sexy beastmaster (dont’ tell Debbie I called her a beast) you had dinner with on the way home from the border? For shame!

  • Preet

    @Ancaster Sasquatch: Post amended!

  • Ancaster Sasquatch

    w00t! I am now famous on the internet ;)

  • Preet

    @Ancaster Sasquatch: Just added a picture too – you are way too sexy for words… See you in the forest (or at Hedgey’s BBQ) :)

  • Ancaster Sasquatch

    Sweet. Now go DL ‘Papagenu’ from Tenacious D’s album ‘The Pick of Destiny’.

  • Hydroponics Supplies

    I had a great time reading around your posts as I read it extensively. Thanks for writing about this!

  • Gary Roberts Art

    This is often a wonderful blog. I have already been back several times during the last few days and wish to join your rss feed by using Google but can’t learn the right way to do it exactly. Would you know of any sort of instructions?

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