My experience buying new car tires: Take Two
My Nissan is a lightly used 10+ year old second car and the Dunlop tires that were on it had a tire age circa 2002 as well as one tire with a leaky patch near the sidewall that a local shop could not repair after three attempts. I eventually grew tired of having to add air to my tire every time I wanted to go somewhere, so I decided to break down and just get some new tires.
With my last tire purchase, I decided on the specific tire I wanted to buy (Goodyear Fortera TripleTread) before trying to hunt down the best possible price. This time, I tried focusing on finding a price-based deal instead of a tire-based deal.
I started by going to tirerack.com and using their "VIEW BEST SELLERS" option for my Nissan. I ended up gravitating toward the Kumho Ecsta ASX, an all season tire with an inexpensive price ($63 shipped per tire), a middle of the pack rating from Consumer Reports in November 2007, and a personal stamp of approval from an acquaintance of mine. So, with this Tire Rack price and a cost of $58 for mount/balance/disposal at a local garage, I was looking at a total of about $310 to get these Kumho tires installed in my Nissan.
As a sanity check, I once again requested an internet quote from sullivantire.com, and once again I promptly received a detailed quote via email (about $463 installed plus tax). Since that quote wasn't even in the ballpark of the $310 cost from the online order/local install from tirerack.com, I didn't bother calling a bunch of local places to try to look for a better price.
So, a week before Christmas I pulled the trigger on the Kumho tires from tirerack.com (plus the 4% ebates.com bonus) and they were promptly shipped from the tirerack.com warehouse in Indiana, delivered by UPS on Christmas Eve, and installed by a local garage after the New Year. Now I happily no longer have an old leaky tire to deal with, and I ended up paying about $100 less than the set of Dunlop tires that I bought for this car six years ago.