I love searching the Internet for car parts. Admittedly, I spend hours at night surfing the web looking for car parts. Sometimes I “buy now,” and other times, I just scroll and dream. Through the years, I have saved tons of money by spending a little extra time searching for the lowest price. eBay is always a great place to source a good deal. I click “buy,” and a couple of days later, boxes of joy arrive at my doorstep. I always do my best to get home before my wife to hide the boxes inside the garage before she sees what other “ridiculous thing” I have bought for a project car.
During my time sourcing speed parts on eBay, I have purchased darn near an entire car — everything from stabilizer bars to carbon-fiber rearview mirrors. But, the one thing I had never purchased online is a set of tires. I figured, if I purchased tires through the web, I would have to have them delivered to my house, schedule a tire shop, and transport them myself (inside my interior). Overall, it just sounded like a process I didn’t want to deal with, so it never really crossed my mind to buy tires through eBay.
That is until recently when I heard about eBay’s new purchase and install program, which allows you to have the tires shipped directly to a local tire shop and make an appointment to have them balanced/mounted in the same transaction. That got my interest! If I could buy tires on eBay, it meant I could do some deep, deep searching to find a super low price. Yes, I’m cheap. What can I say? The more money I save, the more car parts I can buy.
I beat on my car like somebody else is paying for the tires (which unfortunately isn’t the case). The tread on the donuts was getting a bit low, and with the fall season upon us, rain is inevitable.
It was time to get my wallet out and buy some new tires. In an attempt to save a few bucks, I decided to look into eBay’s new tire purchasing process. To work through eBay’s system, all I needed was the tire size on the car.
Finding Tire Size
If you aren’t familiar with what these strange numbers molded onto a tire sidewall mean regarding tire sizing, here is a little tutorial. I’ll use my tires as an example; the size is 205/40R17.
The first three numbers (205) are the width of the tire in millimeters (which is very confusing to us Americans who don’t use the metric system). The second two numbers after the forward-slash (40) are the aspect ratio for the sidewall height, which is expressed as a percentage of the tread width. This means the sidewall height will be 40-percent of 205 millimeters, which equals 82 millimeters (this is also confusing to Americans, especially ones bad at math).
The last two numbers after the “R” represent the rim diameter in inches. Yes, the tread width is in millimeters while the rim diameter is in inches. Confused? Don’t be. You don’t have to know what all of this stuff means if you are replacing like-for-like. And, there are a few different ways to search on the site. 1) You can type these numbers into eBay’s search box at the top of the page. 2) If you are already on the Car and Truck Tires Page, you can click the big blue button that says “Enter Tire Size” (this is the easiest method). 3) If you know specifically what you are after or like to take the long route, you can use the left-hand navigation to dial in exactly the parameters you are after.
Rolling Through The Buying Process
The first step in the eBay tire purchasing/mounting process is punching in the tire size you want for your ride. The drop-down menus are simple to use. Once you have entered the tire size, you will see dozens (maybe even hundreds) of options show up. You can tighten and filter your search parameters by selecting more search criteria on the left-side menu. I punched in my car’s tire size — 205/40R17 — and “poof,” tires upon tires were available at excellent prices.
I wanted to replace my OEM tires with the exact size, make, and model as not to mess up the speedometer’s accuracy. For my car, that was a set of Michelin Pilot Sport summer performance tires, which came stock from the factory. I clicked on the box next to “Michelin” on the left search filter and the specific tires I was looking for popped right up. The next step was to find a vendor with the lowest price and free shipping (because everybody loves free shipping).
I scrolled through my options and found a vendor hocking four brand-new Michelin Pilot Sport tires for only $289.93 total, which is just $72.48 per tire (a hell of a deal for a Pilot Sport performance tire). I did a little research on other sites and some brick-and-mortar stores, and nobody could get me a tire for less than $100 each (before mounting and balancing). I was convinced I found a good deal, so I dug into my wallet for my credit card.
Choosing An Installer
I had the choice to have eBay ship the tires to my house or directly to a shop. I don’t have a tire mounting machine or a balancer in my garage, so I quickly clicked the blue button to schedule an installer. Based on my zip code, numerous local tire shops popped up, so I chose the one closest to my house. I just needed to drive the car over for the balancing and mounting. Easy enough.
Shipping from the eBay vendor was free, but the balancing and mounting at the local tire shop cost $99. Around $25 per tire for balancing/mounting is pretty standard, but I have seen it as high as $30 to $40, depending on the shop. The great part is the payment is all handled through my initial purchase on eBay, so when I showed up at the tire shop, no money would need to exchange hands.
The unexpected (but very cool) part of this process is the partnership between eBay and CarAdvise, which helps make the appointment with the local tire shop (without having to call and try to talk to someone at a hectic business). The partnership pretty much guarantees your purchase from start to finish. eBay’s vendor network has super-fast shipping, so you know the tires will be there before the appointment. CarAdvise has a price guarantee, where if you find a lower in-store retail price for the service at the shop, then CarAdvise will match the price, plus give you 5-percent off (excluding coupons, special promotions, and special membership discounts yada, yada, yada).
Impressions Of The Process
Once I punched in my credit card number and made my payment for the tires and the mounting/balancing, I just had to wait for my appointment (hoping it didn’t rain as I drove around town on worn-out tires). In just a couple of days, I cruised over to the tire shop by my house for my appointment. Without waiting, the crew got to work installing my new, much-needed tires.
I walked out of the shop without having to get my wallet out again. And, I felt good about the easy process and the excellent deal I scored on the tires. Since the new tires were already delivered and I had an appointment, it was the quickest in-out experience I have ever had at a tire shop. All of that time saved, and luckily, I got it done before it rained.
So now, after this process, I’ve legitimately bought almost an entire car’s worth of parts on eBay. As Johnny Cash said, “one piece at a time” — including tires. The workflow on eBay was easy and painless. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to save a few bucks. It saves you the time it takes to go to a tire shop, ask about their inventory, wait for tires to be delivered from a nearby warehouse, and then eventually installed (which usually takes hours — if they even have them).
I also just discovered that until October 27, eBay is doing a promotion where if you chose to ship directly to an installer, you can get 25-percent off of the tire price and 30-percent off of the installation price by clicking this link here. Give it a try; you won’t be disappointed.