Where to Buy Tires

North American consumers benefit from wide array of dealers

Before there were distributor chains, average Americans looking to purchase new tires were dependent on their local garage or an enterprising area businessman.

Now, with the monstrous number of vehicles on the nation's highways and byways, the number of retailers has grown exponentially to meet the need for new and replacement tires. 'Mom and Pop Shop' dealers compete with local and regional franchises like Belle Tire, and major retailers like Big O and Discount Tire that boast hundreds of stores nationwide. There are even retailers who strictly deal with the web-savvy crowd on the Internet, with Tire Rack being the most notable.

In order to serve their customers more effectively and maintain a level of expertise, tire chains have broadened their stock; they now offer 'boutique' or 'niche' tires from small companies like Falken and Nokian alongside well known brands Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone. Increased competition has also resulted in retailers offering their clientele information and tire buying tips, as well as providing good value through in-store specials and discounts.

Like any product, the tire has become a point of interest for the cost and quality-conscious consumer. Leading retailers now offer 'easy credit' terms or a customer loyalty credit card, which allows clients to purchase their products and receive fringe benefits such as roadside assistance or travel promotions.

The number of manufacturers combined with the wide range of tires produced, has led to the creation of a market where good tires can be had on a budget. No longer does quality and tire safety have to be sacrificed for price. Again, niche and boutique companies have pushed the industry to bring prices in line for the average buyer.

Educated tire consumers can now make informed choices on what they want on their vehicle. Like all corporations, tire companies and retailers will hard-sell their wares, and it is up to the consumer to make sure they know what is good information, and what is not. Safety standards have come up, particularly since Firestone's spectacular recall in 2000, so learned consumers should acquaint or reacquaint themselves with National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration standards.

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