In a couple of days I will be a happy camper in the mountains of north Georgia (although not literally camping). Today I am not a happy camper. Really I don't get frustrated very often. But today I have spent the entire day at the local Goodyear franchise and feel like I need to tell on somebody! I went prepared to be a while, having the oil changed and tires balanced in preparation of traveling in a few days. I have had a "bump" in my tires for a few weeks that needed attention. Since I bought the road hazard and lifetime balancing, I should have already taken care of it, but hate the waiting. It was getting pretty bad now and needed attention before hitting the highway. There was a plan; drop the truck off with an explanation about the anti-theft system (Please write this down--you can't start the truck without it), walk over to Eastdale Mall while the tires were balanced (and look, an oil change is $19.99), eat at the food court, walk in the air-conditioned mall a while, sit in a comfy chair and read, walk back to the Goodyear store, and drive home happy. Few dollars, road ready, and a casual day. First, I was "sold up" to the $34.95 "high mileage" oil change, so there is that nagging feeling of donating extra. Then (skipping forward FOUR HOURS!) I am standing in the store after debating with the manager, calling Goodyear customer service, getting a lukewarm concession, then having my logic insulted again. Here is the deal--without pages of details. The bump-wobble was not a tire-balance problem, it was a tire separating. The plies inside the tire were separating and bunching up. To be fair, I have had the tires almost 5 years. I drive the truck about 10k miles per year so they had just under 50K miles on them, which is not bad. HOWEVER, all the tires except this one still had about half the tread on them. They were far from worn out--on the outside. This is when my jaw dropped. The manager of the store said "Tires are just not made to last five years." He was not talking about tread wear. He was referring to those frightening videos you have seen about "old" tires being sold as new only to separate and blow out. So he used scare tactics to sell me a new set of tires. Get this though; these tires were manufactured in 2003! I bought them in 2004. So he is saying if your grandmother drives 20 miles per month, in five years she needs a new set of tires because they deteriorate that quickly. I could not believe it. The customer service folks offered a slight discount on new tires. When I asked him if there would be a problem with keeping the damaged tire, he said "No, I have to send that to the factory for them to inspect." What? If they all wear out in 5 years, why do they need to look at this one? Here is where I found my assertiveness; after deciding to replace only the damaged tire, he began adding up the extras which included $3 for "tire disposal". I don't think so. I suggested he just sit in in a corner and at the rate of decay, it would be gone by Christmas. Then I suggested he put it in the bed of the truck and mount my spare on the front. Now I am waiting again while my two new front tires are being mounted at Sam's Wholesale Club. Did I save any money by refusing to do business with Goodyear? No. In fact, it will cost me a little more at Sam's but I will not give them the satisfaction of being just another brainless customer who thinks he has no choice. When they go the way of Chrysler and General Motors I will drive by and honk the horn. That should be enough, but there is more. Remember that $34.95 deluxe oil change I agreed to? $49.95! Yep, turns out they had no idea my truck held 6 1/2 quarts of oil--plus, of course, the oil disposal fee and multiple taxes.
So....I know many of you will read this and say "I just wish for once I could get five years out of a set of tires." But see, I get mine balanced. I check and inflate them regularly. I drive gently (most of the time). And I don't drive that many miles because we have three vehicles. I guess the good news is, you can go ahead and spin the tires all you want! The tread is not what you should worry about wearing out first anymore. No need to inflate them