Tires Plus has been good to me in the past. The service
has been prompt and courteous. To draw a frank conclusion,
having my tires supplied and installed by Tires Plus on past
occasions might have possibly been the perfect Good
'ol Boy retail experience.
However, contacting Tires Plus for the first time with specific
tire manufacturer and model preferences proved to be futile.
The end result was nearly identical to the Les Schwab scenario,
except the package wasn't as pretty. Upon specifying my "winter"
tire request, I was immediately directed toward an all-season
tire with a high mileage warranty. What's the deal with warranties,
I asked myself? I need a snow and ice winter tire, not the
Turanza with Serenity to replace my perfectly good and
already installed Continetal ContiTouringContact tires. The
Tires Plus sales representative failed to locate or recommend
a tire equivalent to the three I had proposed. A quick look
on their website showed two tires that would have been logical
solutions from Tires Plus, the Bridgestone
Blizzak WS-60 and the Dayton Winterforce. Why weren't
these mentioned? I made my next call.
The guys over at Big-O sure gave my situation a gallant
effort. Up to this point, nobody had directly addressed the
requirement I specified. Working together over the phone while
I was online visiting manufacturer websites, the Big-O sales
rep offered some suggestions from Yokohama's more rugged line
of tires, the Geolandar. Unfortunately, the service rep's
calls into Big-O's local supplier showed incomplete stock.
Again, we went back and forth with all-season tires and warranty
specifications. At this point I was about to abandon my search.
I went back online to review the tires that were mentioned
by all three installers. During that same online session I
found the Tire Rack.
The Tire Rack
In the past, The
Tire Rack brought nothing more to mind than a banner ad
I had seen in an internet forum. Even when noticing the Tire
Rack listed in Yahoo's Yellow Pages, I still wasn't sure if
the Tire Rack was a service center or a business-to-business
tire distributor, so I checked out their website.
At first I was a bit confused since it wasn't immediately
obvious that the Tire Rack would NOT be installing my tires
if I decided to give them my business. Ahh-ha, I said to myself,
the Tire Rack just sells the consumer their tires and then
the consumer has to have the tires installed by an installer
of their choice. OK, no problem. But what's the advantage?
Answer. You can get just about any tire you want without any
hassle or hidden agenda. Something that's not so easy when
working with a supplier/installer (i.e., Les Schwab, Tires
Fortunately for me, the Tire Rack has
a West Coast warehouse with a "will call" storefront
only 15 miles from my house in Sparks, Nevada. A quick search
online showed that they had the tires I needed in stock. In
this case, the Michelin Latitude X-Ice's were recommended
by a user in the MyFordFreestyle
internet forum. After phoning the Tire Rack's toll-free number,
I confirmed the tires were indeed in stock in the Nevada West
My trip out to the McCarran, Nevada
warehouse was an interesting one. I took an opportunity
to pose next to one of the few online retailers in what
is essentially a desolate expanse dotted with enormous
I was impressed that a motorized
pallet jack picked and dropped my tires about 2 minutes
after I signed my credit card receipt at the will call
The Tire Rack is perfect for the enthusiast
or the determined average joe who wants to choose their own
tire based on their own internet research. The Tire Rack has
no hidden agenda for selling you an "exclusive tire".
You simply order online or by phone and have the tires shipped
to you. Five major warehouses across the US can ship to most
locations within one day for a surprisingly low shipping charge.
Once home with my tires from The Tire Rack, I opted to have
the most cordial tire service center do the installation.
I went with Big-O, but that didn't
mean I wasn't going to double check their work.
I was appreciative that Big-O wrapped
my old tires in plastic bags after the new tires were
Here I am checking that the lug
nuts were indeed on securely. They were. The Michelin
sidewall suggested the tires not exceed 50 psi. After
checking, they only measured 35 psi. Considering the sidewall
was ballooning at 35 psi, I bumped them up to 45 psi.
The Michelin X-Ice's from The Tire
Rack paid for themselves when I was screened for four
wheel drive and snow tires at the California/Oregon border.
This is a shot crossing the Siskiyous confidently in the