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An experiment: buying new tyres online

Having been lucky enough to drive over a nail this week, and my front tyres having worn down a lot anyway, I bit the bullet and ordered two new tyres today. However, I thought I'd be shafted at Kwik Fit - so I decided to harness the power of the Internet and get some new tyres online. Such novelty!

After looking in all the nooks and crannies, I found a few useful sites:

For reviews, statistics and comparisons of tyres, I found three useful sites:
TyreReview (http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Tyre/Goodyear/DuraGrip.htm)
Tyres-Online (http://www.tyres-online.co.uk/tyretest/goodyear.asp#1)
BlackCircles (http://www.blackcircles.com/order/tyres/search)

And a couple of reputable-looking brokers:
etyres (quote for GoodYear DuraGrips: £161.80 inc VAT)
TyreFitDirect (quote for GoodYear DuraGrips: £152.82 inc VAT)

I decided to give etyres a go. Unfortunately, given the less popular dimensions of my tyre (185/55/R14/80H), etyres could only promise me fitting with a two-week lead time, as they'd have to order the tyres I wanted specially (I was after GoodYear DuraGrips). As I had a flat tyre, was running on the spare and had to drive down the motorway the day afterwards, I wussed out and went to my local Kwik Fit - where they knocked about £60 off a pair of Michelin Energy Savers, which I was happy with.

Including fitting and balance, two tyres came to £180, which isn't amazing... but isn't bad for a walk-up price with half an hour's notice, and was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would cost. Certainly it would've been nice to pay less, but when you have no other options, what do you do? To their credit, I didn't have to wait long and my tyres were fitted quickly, so no complaints there. Apparently Kwik Fit also do rotating promotions on various kinds of tyres; when I went in, they (ironically) had a sliding discount promotion on GoodYears for February. Sod's law though, they didn't have the DuraGrips in my tyre size! so I plumped for Michelins (they did have cheaper tyres, but I wanted some premium rubber this time around after a few recent close shaves in rush hour traffic).

The moral of the story? If you need tyres fitting really quickly, don't solely rely on the online brokers and on-site mechanic companies being able to supply your tyres at very short notice. However, if you want to save some money, you can haggle with your local garage... or plan ahead and book with an online broker (like etyres or TyreFitDirect), get your tyres changed at your home or workplace and save a few bob. Don't let my bad experience put you off - I'm also keen to know if you've used any online tyre services, so if you've had good or bad experiences (including etyres or TyreFitDirect) then please leave a comment.

16 Comments

  1. JohnJ says:

    I have used Kwik Fit in the past - but like you get the feeling that you get switched into whatever brand they have in stock (probably the ones that they make the most money!)

    I have tried to use E-tyres in the past but their call centre were unable to accurately confirm if they would stick to the agreed time (key of you are agreeing an appointment)

    Blackcircles were a real eye opener. Not only did they have great prices - they have a great choice of local garages. they arrange it all for you and it has worked really smoothly the two times I have used them. And it feels good giving my local garage some business.

    Onthe duragrip tyres that you needed
    Blackcircles £71.80 - fitting available within 2 days
    Kwik Fit don't sell - strange
    E-tyres £79.50 - as per you post 14 days lead tim would put me off
    Tyrshopper - £74.50 - although this is a front for National Tyres so you may be switched brands like Kwik Fit

    If you need tyres in a hurry for a puncture - then you are going to be at the mercy of the dealer / depot that you drive in to, although the Kwik price on the Michelin's seemed fairly decenet - just a shame that they try and rip you off by charging you an extra £60 on the list price in the first place.

    1. Rich White says:

      Unfortunately, like most here I have used Kwik Fit... just the once - far too pricey. Friend of mine had recommended TyreFitDirect as his father used them for the last four years.

      Picked up some Falkens at a really good price and the whole process was as it said on the tin - I even had to change my booking on the day due to family emergency and the guy I spoke to was really cool and rearranged it for the next day. Saved about £40 overall - well happy!

  2. Christopher says:

    With Kwik Fit it seems almost like you're at their mercy if it's a busy franchise 😉 I've had a couple of repairable punctures in the past - the first time I rolled up, the guy graciously fixed it for free. The next time, it cost me £18.50. 😉

    Funnily enough, after I blogged this article, I had an email from the Head of Operations and Trading at BlackCircles - he was genuinely interested to hear my opinions and any feedback I might have regarding the web site and its service, which is a great thing to see. Clearly they actually care about how well their service works for customers, so I'll have to reconsider them when I next need new tyres.

    The whole point of this exercise in the first place was to try and give a local tyre place some business (fed up with giving my money to nationwide organisations / international companies), it's nice to know you're helping your regional economy.

  3. justine says:

    Thanks for the post. Yeah, I agree that you can always haggle with the local garages for the tires. Most likely the garage owners will comply. Like I always do with Clapham shops. I always haggle to save some money. thanks for sharing this post. But It's worth trying to buy tires online.

  4. Lyne Watson says:

    I used a Mobile service called Hometyre, the guy fitted my tyres in my works carpark, all I had to do was give him the car keys and point him in the direction of the locking wheel nut.
    The tyres were cheaper than the quote I had from kwik fit, and I didn't have to hang around at a garage. All in all I was pleased with the service.

    1. Christopher says:

      Interesting, I didn't come across Hometyre so never considered them. Do they franchise the work out to local garages or is it a national company?

      1. No. I have asked. They are a franchised business but they don't use any other company to fulfill thier work - which is a big tick in my box. I used them to replace two tyres on my 997 in Milton Keynes. First thing I noticed was the quality of the vehicle that turned up. really high tech and very clean. John was the fitter/franchisee and both knew his stuff as well as taking proper care with my prided wheels.
        Overall great experience as my first crack at a mobile service. Hometyre does have the look of being a little pricey an offering but don't be decieved, the price was well within the mix.

        1. Christopher says:

          Sounds promising M J, I'll have to check them out when I get my rears replaced. What were their lead times like from placing the order to the fitting? Did you order unusual or hard-to-source tyres? I had "issues" with my car (Mk. 4 Fiesta) and finding someone who could supply the Michelins I wanted in the suitable rim and width dimensions.

          1. MJB says:

            I don't think there was anything particularly unusual about the order apart from having to have an N2 coding on the replacements to match what I currently have fitted. The chap who handled the order knew what I needed and why so it was pretty smooth all the way. I guess there'll be awkward spec sometimes tho but surely that'd apply to all of the dealers?
            Wasn't really any lead time at all either. I ordered on the Wednesday and required them replacing over the course of the next week. They fitted them at my office the next morning. I wasn't expecting an specific time slot but to be fair they booked it for 11.30 and were there on the dot.
            Without any other mobile to compare to (which I suppose I should for that purpose!) I would have to give a good 9/10! Only omitting the 1 to avoid looking like a plug!!

  5. Daniel MacPherson says:

    Hometyre seem to be a growing national organisation. I've used them both in Chester and Hemel Hempstead. Always identical vehicles and really helpful operators. Not many folk I entrust my 998 Porsche with but no issues with these guys as they certainly seem perfectly geared for this kind of vehicle. Price on both occasions was right in the mix and virtually no lead time required.
    Just looking online and it would appear that each area is a franchise operator - so no wonder the service element was so good. http://www.hometyre.co.uk

  6. As a consumer I've bought tires online quite a few times and always got a great deal. The difficulty has always been getting the tires fitted, and also because I had quite large rims, the smaller garages with perhaps a cheaper fitting machine were concerned the mounting arm might flex a bit and mark the outside of the rims.

    Totally agree with supporting smaller business with more personal customer service though.

  7. matt says:

    old blog i know but has anyone thought of hiq-online cheaper than most places and as they are goodyear/dunlop franchised they deal direct with them so availability is pretty good as is the customer service - would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. Christopher says:

      That's something I'd certainly not contemplated, I thought the HiQ site was just an extension of the physical garages. My boss' wife got a good deal on fitting when she had a puncture, I think I may have to give them a go (or at least get a quote) when I need new tyres next.

      Anybody else actually used HiQ Online in the past?

  8. David says:

    Am dealing with blackcircle,MMM!!!! their local fitter xpress,walton were supposed to be doing the fitting,spoke to them,re this and asked about tyre info,suddenly the person on the phone got really rude,"don't waste your time asking me questions we did not sell you the tyres,blackcircle did" I see looking at xpress that they do sell tyres,if they are unhappy to do blackcircle's buisness, don't take it out on the customer,or could be their future customer,blackcircle didn't seem too nonplussed about my reported incident to them,next time I will go elsewhere,maybe topgear in guilford,regards!!

    1. Christopher says:

      That sounds rubbish David, this is the problem I think some people will always encounter where a broker is selling on the services of local franchised fitters.

      I'd complain to the MD of Blackcircles or see if you can get in touch with them on Twitter, a public mention of your problem may elicit a quicker response!

  9. Hi David,

    I had to put my 2 pennies in;

    I can't say I've had any bad experiences with any of the aforementioned companies, however I can tell you I have plenty of good experiences with Black Circles adn eTyres over the years.

    Blackcircles is a very switched on company.

    [Christopher's comments: Hi Tony Shemmans. Thinly disguising an SEO comment as a genuine one, specifying a URL which WordPress will always add rel=nofollow to ... Not too clever!]

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