Speaking of tires, has anyone ever ordered from Tirerack.com? I used them a few times, and so far I like them. You can have your new tires shipped to a installation center near you, and then just drive there and they slap them on. You can also order wheel and tire combinations, and that's what I did. I finally got tired of paying $72 bucks every time I needed to switch from my regular tires to my snows and another $72 to switch them back. I figured if I purchased some cheap wheels, I could just leave the tires mounted, change them over myself and in two seasons I'd have made my money back.
Things never work out the way you'd like them to with automobiles, at least in my experience.
I went to their website and punched in my make and model, and then picked a good performance summer tire and the cheapest wheel they said would fit. They also told me I needed four tire pressure sensors, and that I would have to have my dealer activate them for me to make the big orange TPMS light on the dashboard go out. So I pulled the trigger on those as well, for another $138 bucks.
When the tires showed up, they looked pretty good. I jacked up the car, stuck them on and everything was great. They were quiet, the car handled much better and I was happy -- until I got another person in the car and happened to drive over a railroad track. The first time the tires were forced up inside the wheel-well, I thought I ran over a cat. There was a huge screeching-scraping noise as the tires and the outside edge of the wheel-well fought it out. The metal wheel-wells won handily, and the tires got pretty scraped up.
I also managed to find time to stop by the dealer and they told me it would cost $95 to switch over the new sensors, and that the computer could only store one set of numbers at a time. That meant I had traded a (2 x $72) expense a year for a (2 x $95) expense. So far so good. This idea was really starting to pan out for me.
I started researching that little issue, because that was bullshit right there. I found a little device that cost $150 and would allow me to program my own car computer, and switch between two sets of TPMS sensors. So for those of you keeping score at home, I would now break even in three years instead of two.
When I received the device, it was supposed to first suck the codes out from my winter tires, and store those in a "winter" setting, then allow me to input my "summer" values. I followed the directions, and the device wiped out my existing codes just like it was not supposed to do, and so now I have no way of knowing what codes are assigned to my winter tires without having someone take them off the rim and write the numbers down. There's an additional fifty bucks come November. Oh, and add another six months to my break-even. I'm clearly doing this wrong.
I called up Tire Rack, and told them that the tires were committing suicide on my wheel-wells, and they went away for a while and consulted their computer, then came back and said "Oh yeah, there should have been a warning on those wheels. They don't really work with your car. If you have an alignment done, they can add some camber to them so they might not rub. Or I can get you into a wheel with the right offset." I figured an alignment would cost me another 70 bucks, and I didn't want to go down the road with my tires looking like / \ because it would affect my mileage, and they'd obviously wear out faster, so I asked him what other wheels they had.
The only ones they had with the right offset (a) looked like rice-boy wheels, and (b) were twice the price of the ones I had originally purchased. I bent over and placed my order even though the wheels were butt-ugly. I didn't care anymore. I just wanted something that I could take on the highway without having to worry about the tires turning into grated cheese at 75 mph.
They did agree to refund my entire purchase price, including shipping both ways, so I can't fault them for their customer service, even though it was a huge pain in the ass and completely their fault.
So now I figure with the price of the new fancy rice-boy wheels, I'm up to about 4.5 years before I break even, which is probably about a year longer than I'll actually own the stupid car. To add insult to injury, the new wheels are much closer to the body of the car, which means it doesn't handle nearly as well as it did with the first set I bought. I was thinking of tinting the windows and adding a spoiler and one of those really loud exhaust systems that sounds like a swarm of bees, but then I'd have to buy a shitload of polo shirts so I could pop the collars, and really, who needs that added expense?