Once upon a time, alignment and balancing were the only two services you needed to consider when installing new tires on your car. Modern automobiles have become significantly more sophisticated, however. There are often many extra considerations on more recent vehicles that you need to keep in mind when buying, mounting, and installing new tires.
Although your tire dealer will help you understand the steps necessary for your car, it can still be helpful to know why you may be facing extra service charges.
1. Run-Flat Tires
Run-flat tires are a typical option on many higher-end luxury vehicles. Run-flats use a reinforced sidewall to prevent the tire from deforming and failing when underinflated. Although you shouldn't drive at high speeds or for long distances on any "flat" tire, run-flats do allow you to reach your destination without requiring a tow.
Unfortunately, run-flat tires come with one notable downside: many manufacturers do not include a spare tire or even a spare tire storage location on vehicles with run-flat tires. If you replace your run-flat tires with standard tires, you won't have a backup available in the event of a failure. Although this shouldn't necessarily be a dealbreaker, it's a critical consideration to keep in mind when choosing tires.
2. Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Sensors
Vehicles manufactured since 2008 are legally required to include a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). In many cars, this system uses sensors that measure speed or pressure at each wheel. If you mount new tires on your existing wheels, you can continue using your current sensors without an issue. The situation is more complicated when buying new wheels.
If you're replacing your old wheels or installing a second set of wheels (i.e., for winter tires), you'll need to either move your current TPMS sensors or install new ones. TPMS sensors may cost several hundred dollars, so don't be surprised to see this extra charge on your bill. In most cases, you can save money by swapping your old TPMS sensors onto the new wheels.
3. Staggered Wheel Sizes
High-performance rear-wheel-drive vehicles often use a staggered wheel setup from the factory. These cars place wider wheels on the rear axle to provide better traction on the drive wheels. This setup can help performance vehicles that need to safely and reliably put down large amounts of power while accelerating.
While staggered wheels have their advantages, they can also be costlier since you'll need wider tires on your rear wheels. You can often choose to downgrade to a setup that uses the same size on each tire (typically known as a square setup) if your budget is tight, often with minimal impact on everyday driving performance. Contact us for tire services.