JAMIE LaREAU

The case for tire plans doesn’t add up

Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive NewsJamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News
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A small nail or screw seems so harmless until it’s wedged into your car’s tire.

That’s what happened to me last week. I managed to limp to a nearby tire shop and coughed up $130 for a new tire.

The experience upset me and disrupted my life, but it also gave me pause to consider whether I should have bought wheel-and-tire protection in 2008 when I bought the car.

Nah.

I’ve owned my car for four years and this is the first time I’ve had a tire problem.

Convenience and logistics often factor into our decisions. Wheel-and-tire plans do have advantages. Many policies offer roadside assistance. And they can be used at repair locations other than the selling dealership, dealers say.

But I already have roadside assistance with my insurer, and I took my car to a repair shop that was less than two miles from my doorstep. That proximity made it easy for family members to shuttle me while my car was being serviced.

Here’s the deal: Wheel-and-tire protection likely would have cost more than $600 in 2008 for a five-year policy. And it would have yielded a one-time savings of $133. That math doesn’t make sense.

The product probably has been invaluable to some folks, especially those who damage a high-performance tire and wheel rim. That repair could run into the thousands.

But some finance managers might find a challenge to their sales pitch: A customer who’s been through it and done the math.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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