I am pretty good about regularly pumping up my tires ever since I discovered I can use the air pump for free at the Costco Tire Center. Every time I get gas at my local, overcrowded Costco I then drive over and pump up the tires.
A few months ago I noticed one of the tires on my beloved Prius was a bit lower than the others. I just assumed it was random since it wasn’t very low. After awhile though I noticed it was the same tire, my front left tire. A few months ago when I got an oil change the tires were rotated and I was hoping that maybe now that it was in the rear it would not go as flat but it did not make a difference.
I continued running like this because the tire never seemed to get very low between fill ups. Also I had no idea where to go to get my tire patched and I was too lazy to figure out.
This pattern of inflating and deflating every two weeks fell apart when Ji Seon began filling up the car. She did not know I inflated the tires and the tire became flatter and flatter. Still I did not address the problem because I noticed my fuel mileage was still the same. My laziness knows no bounds.
One day I showed my now quite flat tire to my car friend expert. The expression on his face said “You know nothing about cars. How can you do this to your car?” (I am sure I have the same expression when some people show me their computers.) But he was very polite and explained why I had to buy new tires since the side walls had been almost completely worn off.
I wasn’t sure where to go for replacement tires. My friend suggested Costco lukewarmly. Though one blog post recommended them the comments on that post weren’t that reassuring nor were the complaints about Costco Tire Center on this site and other sites.
I called Yarnell’s, my auto mechanics, and the receptionist suggested America’s Tire Co. When I asked about Costco she said “Oh, they’re good too.”
When I asked what’s the difference the receptionist said “Oh they’re the same.”
I then called the mechanics my friend uses, Japanese Beetle. The mechanic, who was very friendly, told me he sends all of his customers including himself to Costco Tire Center. He said that some of his customers also use America’s Tire Co and Wheel Works.
After talking with everyone I decided to take a chance with Costco Tire Center so I went over yesterday afternoon and asked for a quote. The serviceman strongly suggested the Michelin Energy Savers and quoted $600 to replace all four plus $70 off with the Costco coupon. This was a lot more expensive than I expected. I ended up asking to just replace the rear two tires and the quote was $300. The wait he said though would be 2.5 hours and suggested I come back in the morning.
Update 10-28-2009: The price seems to have come down. At Costco.com the tires are $121.99 and at Amazon.com they are $145.99.
That night I checked out different sites to see if I should get the Michelin Energy Savers like this forum. There seemed to be no consensus about which tire to use for replacement. In the end I decided might as well pay the extra, you usually get what you pay for.
I arrived at Costco Tire Center this morning at 9:30 AM but already I was too late, the expected wait was 2.5 hours again. In the end I waited over three hours but fortunately I had my laptop with me. Most of the time I waited inside Costco sitting on a lovely couch they are trying to sell.
Now I finally have a healthy tire as shown below. Notice the green cap because the tire is filled with nitrogen.
Lesson learned. Fix the flat for $20 instead of waiting to replace it for $300!
Update 10-28-2009: My mileage seems to have improved by about 7 mpg but part of that may have been because the tire was kind of flat before.