Tire warranties cover issues that may arise after you purchase the tire. There are two types of warranties: Road hazard warranties and manufacturer warranties.
But are tire warranties worth the money? Yes! Warranties protect your tires from unexpected tire injuries. Manufacturer warranties can cover a tire as far out as 6 years from the date of purchase. And road hazard warranties can last the whole life of the tire.
Tire warranty language and subsequent coverage can often be confusing, so it’s important to know what to look for. While we go over some of these caveats, it’s important to understand exactly what the warranty your purchasing covers. Some may not cover damage after a certain time period. Other warranties may not cover tires that don’t have enough tread. And while warranties are always a safe bet, each warranty is not created equal. We will go over the different warranties and what they cover.
After working in tire shops for 10 years, I’ve learned the difference between a marketing gimmick and a quality purchase. When corporations would send out new packages to push, we’d all gather around the water cooler and discuss which one’s we’d buy ourselves, which ones were not worth it, and which ones were a great deal. Tires are a huge money maker. Americans spend $20 billion dollars on tires each year, and having good information can ensure you make a strong purchase that can be protected with a warranty.
Different shops can charge different amounts, tacking on more money to an already hefty sum. So being cautious and purchasing tire warranties does have its perks. Tire warranties can save you hundreds of dollars if issues arise, whether it be tire defects, nail punctures, sidewall damage, or uneven wear. With a tire warranty, you can simply go back to the shop you purchased the tire from, show them the defect, and a new one will be mounted and balanced, no questions asked.
Road Hazard Warranties
The US government publishes standards for tire repair and recommends certain guidelines to decide if a tire is repairable or replaceable. For example, if a tire has less than 2/32 of tread, and comes in with a small puncture in a repairable area, it’s recommended to replace the tire. Any damage to the sidewall, such as puncture, or bubbles, is also recommended to be replaceable.
But if a tire has good tread, and a puncture less than 2 inches, the tire is recommended by the US government as repairable. These standards are followed by most retail shops whether it be local garages or large chains. The main goal of these standards is to avoid blowouts which can result in injury or death.
Road hazard warranties cover any damage that’s caused to the tire while driving. They commonly cover issues such as cuts, punctures, and blowouts. If the tire warranty was purchased for the tire, and it’s in the recommended spec, and repairable, it will be repaired. If the tire cannot be repaired due to issues like punctures in the sidewall, the tire will be replaced.
This move can turn a $200 bill into a $0 bill with the cost of a Road Hazard Warranty at the time of purchase. So if you get a nail in your tire, or it’s run low on air, just take the tire back to the shop where you purchased it from, and leave without paying any fees.
The duration of Road Hazard Warranties differ between companies. For example, Tire Rack offers free road hazard repair and replacement for two years. And Costco offers Road Hazard Warranties for up to 5 years, or until the tread gets below 2/32 of an inch. The Road Hazard warranties from Tire Rack and Cotsco are included in the price of the tire purchase.
Tire shops such as Pep Boys and National Tire and Battery offer Road Hazard Warranties for a cost. After a quick phone call with NTB to get the latest information, I discovered that a set of tires sold for $600 will have a road hazard warranty cost of $100. ($25 for each tire). And before you think about buying a road hazard warranty for one tire and hoping it will cover all four, think again. This specific warranty lasts the duration of the manufacturer’s mileage warranty, which in my case was 80,000 miles. The DOT number stamped into each tire is tracked within the system. Bringing in a tire with an incorrect DOT number will cause a refusal of service, since the Road Hazard warranty wasn’t purchased for that tire.
Road Hazard warranties cannot be applied to tires that have already been purchased. So if you bought tires six months ago, and are now just looking into road hazard warranties, you’re out of luck. But lot’s of retailers do extend a grace period allowing customers to purchase the Road Hazard warranties within a week of the original purchase. While purchasing the Road Hazard warranties can be costly, it’s worth it seeing as how any damage to the tire is covered. You can sleep well knowing that the flat you have won’t cause you to re-purchase a whole new tire, and instead won’t cost you anything.
When a tire is made, all of the information about the tire is stamped into the sidewall. This information consists of the tire size, the DOT number, the manufacturer, and other important information. When a manufacturer prints their name on the side of each tire, they are also promising a tire life of the marketed length.
For example, Falken says their tires will last up to 55,000 miles without any issues. Cooper boasts a 60,000 mile guarantee on some of their tires. These are where manufacturer warranties enter. Manufacturer warranties are guarantees from the company that the tire will perform as expected. Manufacturer warranties cover the construction of the tire. It covers the whole manufacturing process from engineering the product to mounting the tire on the car. If a tire stops operating before the mileage mark, you are entitled to a brand new tire free of charge.
Mileage warranties come with a few stipulations. One, for example, is that the tires must be evenly worn. If the front tires are bald due to burnouts and the rear have ½ their life left, a manufacturer warranty won’t cover the cost. But if all tires are worn evenly, and reach 2/32 before the warranty mileage, you’re in the clear. Additionally, you must have maintained the tires according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Meaning, consistent rotations. Cooper recommends all their tires be rotated every 8,000 miles in order to be eligible for a new tire.
Some mileage warranties only cover defects in the tire of up to the first 2/32 worth of treadwear. This treadwear allows a time period of roughly 8,000 miles (or before your first rotation). After this period of time, some mileage warranties take the current dealer’s selling price multiplied by the percentage worn. For example, if a tire is sold at $130 and is worn %20, you’ll wind up paying $26.00 for a new tire, instead of the full cost. With these warranties, you’ll also have to pay the mounting and balancing cost.
With special performance tires, a lot of manufacturers nullify warranties all together. When you place a tire under extreme conditions like those experienced on the race track, the warranty will not stick. Meaning, you’re throwing away the warranty when you track a tire. If you do track a set of tires, make sure they are race graded to ensure the longest lasting life.
Construction defect warranties are warranties that cover issues which arise, that are in the manufacturer’s control. Sometimes, tires can have issues built into them like weak sidewalls, or improperly molded steel plies. Other times, the materials used in the tires aren’t quite up to par. These manufacturer defects are what the manufacturer tire warranties guarantees free replacement from. If your tire exhibits any symptoms of a manufacturer defect, take it to the shop, and they will replace it free of charge.
Most companies will allow you to submit a defect warranty claim within 12 months of purchase. And as long as the tire is less than 75% worn, with some manufacturers, you can expect a free replacement. If it’s worn more than that, you can purchase a new tire at a prorated price using the formula of multiplying the current dealer’s selling price by the percentage worn. The prorated price is basically refunding you for the life of the tire that you did not receive.
See the following table for a prorated chart. Any life expectancy of a tire that’s less than 30% will be replaced free.
Retail shops are more happy to replace manufacturer defects, because it’s a cost they will be reimbursed for, compared to Road Hazard warranties which come out of their pocket. So you can be assured, if it’s a manufacturer defect, they will let you know. Manufacturer defects are rare, but the US purchases around 200 million tires per year, so some issues are expected. The material/construction defect warranties cover issues such as
- Using bad rubber during the construction.
- Tread separating from the steel plies.
- Side wall failures
- Bead failures
Are Tire Warranties Worth It?
Tire warranties all around, are worth it, for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that manufacturer warranties are free of charge. These warranties are covered in the cost of the tire. You need not register the tire nor pay extra. Just make sure to keep all service records, and rotate the tires regularly. The manufacturer warranties cover all tire defects so you can be sure if you do get a defective tire, you’ll be compensated accordingly. This may ease your worries about paying a large bill, since any tire you get is guaranteed by the manufacturer. And if you bring the tire back after the grace period of 2/32, you will be prorated a price for a brand new tire. And all of these stipulations come free of charge. That’s the manufacturer’s guarantee.
Road hazard warranties are also worth it, since you pay a small fee to the shop and are guaranteed protection for a lengthy amount of time. So you can consider your investment protected throughout the duration of its life. After 10 years of working in tire shops, after my first year, I was servicing 15 flat tires a day. These were money makers for our business, because the customer’s passed on the warranties. A simple nail removal and patch was around $45, when it could have been free.
After purchasing tire warranties, you will be more inclined to maintain their upkeep. When you see an issue with your tire when walking out to the car, you can take it to the shop right away and not have to pay anything. Without the warranty, you will be more likely to put it off, since you are spending time and money, just to investigate the issue. This factor increases the safety of your vehicle, since you will be more apt to take care of the tires. TPMS light on? Take it to the shop and have a repair done free. Small hissing noise from a tire? Take it to the shop and have a repair done free. Air bubble in the sidewall poking out? You get the idea.
Tire warranties are cost effective and will save you time and money. You are taking a huge risk by not purchasing the warranties, since you are subject to anything the road confronts your tire with. While they may seem costly, in the long run they are worth every cent.
About THE AUTHOR
Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.Read more about Christopher Sparks