Your car’s tires are its most important parts. I tell people that whenever I get the chance, but not everyone needs optimal automotive performance. If you’re just trying to get fresh tires painlessly, TireScanner requires an extremely minimal amount of work to get your car re-shoe’d.
(Full Disclosure: TireScanner’s people reached out to me to ask if I’d like to try out its new tire buying site. I’m picky about tires and normally get unbeatable prices through a car club I’m in, so I was going to decline. But then TireScanner had a sweet discount code to send me, so here we are!)
TireScanner’s main value proposition is convenience, and its second is cost. You just go to the very visually streamlined site, pop in your car’s year, make, model, and trim, it will spit back your tire size, you’ll hit OK, and then it shows you what’s available within a certain distance of your location. (If you don’t have stock wheels, you’ll have to search by tire size of course.)
The site references location too because once you pick a tire, you’ll get a list of local shops and mobile installers, with dates and time ranges, and prices. The advantage here is you can basically comparison-shop pricing and scheduling from all your local retailer options at the same time while seeing how quickly your car could get fitted at each shop. Where I’m at in Los Angeles, there was a long list of places that could get me taken care of within 24 hours.
TireScanner will price-match if you find a better offer on another site, and is running a discount code as I write this (you’ll find the latest on the site itself.) Pick a place to mount and balance the tires you want, pick one of the marked open time slots, and you get a follow-up call to confirm and an email with details.
So, like I said: For the casual car owner who just needs tires replaced with the least downtime and money spent, this is a solid option. Especially if you appreciate the concierge-style experience of “click two clicks, it’s all good to go” or you really don’t want to spend time waiting for anything.
But for people looking to comparison shop between different tire brands and types, TireScanner is weak. The site doesn’t offer any guidance on the differences between various tires. It lets you shop by brand, but not type (i.e. all-seasons versus winters, ect.) If it does, it wasn’t intuitive enough for me to figure out.
So if you don’t know about tires already, and clearly the target audience here won’t, but do want to be educated, you’re still going to need to use a site like TireRack for its excellent spec comparison spreadsheets and review aggregation or TireSize.com (which remains my fave tire research tool) for its comprehensive rundowns of various tire characteristics.
Or, just grab what you can get cheapest and quickest. If you’re equipping a commuter car for basic daily driving, there’s not really anything wrong with that approach. Most brand-new tires will provide sufficient safety as long as they’re rotated and replaced in a prudent manner. If you want the most out of your machine though, you need to do a little more legwork.
TireScanner does have a chat tool where you can ping an operator for help, I gave it a shot and somebody named Matt got back to me pretty quickly. I asked what might be a good performance tire for my Nissan Z, and he offered some brands that offered “a decent mix of value and performance.”
From my perspective as a car nerd, that wasn’t nearly the level of information I’d be looking for. One of the tire brands Matt suggested didn’t even offer anything in my car’s size. He did, however, add that anything could be special-ordered and that TireScanner would still price match if I wanted them to arrange something I’d seen on another site.
So you can always do your own research and come back to TireScanner for the price match, which is what I basically did. However, when I did my research, TireScanner already had the best price on a set of BFGs that I wanted.
There’s not exactly an abundance of choices for tires in an ’84 300ZX non-turbo’s stock size of 215/60R15. TireRack ranks the Sumitomo HTR A/S P02 highly, but only had one in stock when I was shopping. My Z’s not a unicycle, so that was out. TireSize had a link to a full set of Falken Sincera SN250 A/Ss for less than $100 apiece, but the best option for my application was the BF Goodrich Radial T/A.
That’s a meaty, sporty retro-looking tire that would provide a period-correct look for an ’80s GT and give it a little muscle car energy. Especially paired with my sweet, sweet chrome exhaust tips.
When I plugged my car into TireScanner’s site, those BFGs popped up as the most expensive option, but I actually couldn’t find them on TireRack or TireBuyer (yet another site I like to check for pricing) at all. TireSize had them for a few dollars more apiece. Getting confused by all these tire vendors yet?
Once I selected the tires, I picked a mobile installer that popped up as a retailer option, purchased, and got my confirmation via phone and email from a TireScanner rep. Somebody from Rubber On Wheels, the installer I picked, called me a little later to explain that they planned on rolling up between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. the next day.
You might recall that I reviewed Andrew Comrie-Picard’s mobile tire installation service called ZipTire about a year ago. That’s just one company, they were good about price-beating too. And also were pretty sharp on advice for which tires to purchase. However, to review, TireScanner lets you pick from a whole bunch of vendors and book whoever you want based on location, available installation times, and price.
Rubber On Wheels is its own tire business, and in this transaction, it was basically a TireScanner subcontractor. So when you use TireScanner you end up working with two companies: The website, and whoever your installer is. That’s pretty common in tire shopping, but something to be aware of.
Once Rubber On Wheels was booked, that outfit hit me up to confirm a time and said they’d re-confirm the next day. They didn’t end up doing that, but it wasn’t a problem because they did come within the window they’d initially given me.
The Rubber On Wheels tech was a nice dude, worked hard and quickly, complimented my car (the best way to bribe me to leave you a good review) and after a little test drive appeared to have installed my tires competently.
I had originally wanted to run the white-lettered sidewalls on the outside of the wheels, so “BF GOODRICH RADIAL T/A” was boldly visible for a retro look, but I read so many complaints on various forums about the white lettering turning brown and bad-looking over a short period of time. Since I’m not the type of dude to spend much time shining tires, like, ever, I knew I wouldn’t be up for any ambitious tire cleaning rituals so I’m just running BSW (black sidewall) style.
As for TireScanner itself, I feel like it’s been pretty clearly explained here why it’s a solid pick for buying tires easily and conveniently but doesn’t have enough info to be a definitive tire source for people with specific preferences.