Craig Truglia, assistant editor
I don't run a tire shop, so pardon my ignorance about this topic. But I hate tires. Tires are hard to make money on.
You see, there is a reptilian part of the human mind that just does not like paying for anything to do with tires. It goes "Me NEED tire fix. Why not FREE?" The Geico caveman has more class.
But after doing 14 tires on four different rims for two different Oldsmobile Toronados swapping old tires from one rusty rim to another rusty rim and specific rims go on a specific car for a measly $20 a tire, I say to myself, "What the heck is wrong with this picture?"
The old school thought on the matter is that "tires are easy money." All you had to do is clean the rims (and not even that if the rims were steel and not rusty), replace the valve stem, and throw a tire on. Easy money, right?
Now we have aluminum rims that love to leak (like Toyotas), so we need to clean the rims and put bead sealant on. The valve stem is a thing of the past. We have TPMS sensors that require expensive kits to prevent leaks, and sometimes is better not to touch them because you can break the sensor. The sensors need to be torqued properly. Then, the wheels have to be given TPMS resets (which might require a $2000 tool) and the rims need to be returned back to where they were before.
Hey, this does not seem like easy money to me! I think diagnosing a P0171 is easier than doing a modern tire. New tires just require so much more work and technical procedures to do right.
Yet, if you are in a region where you swap over winter to summer tires, what kind of money do you get paid for that? Probably not more than $20 a tire, and if more God bless you! Sorry, but I can't pay my rent on $20 a tire. Maybe that's why a lot of shops will do tires real cheap and offer $100 brake pad specials—they will get the car on the lift and make sure they can find something on the car, real or imagined, that can make a profit.
The industry has to respect itself a little more. If it takes over an hour for a B technician to swap do 4 tires on a Toyota Tundra, the shop has to make some money doing it. What do YOU think is fair?