Many dealerships don't charge for tire storage but often more than make up for the cost by capturing additional service business. For example, dealerships may charge for tire installation.
Mary Pacifico-Valley, dealer principal of the Denver-based Rickenbaugh Automotive Group, said the group's Infiniti dealership in Dacono, Colo., offers free storage for new-vehicle customers who buy tires there. Keith Smerchek, the dealership's fixed operations director, said the store charges a $60 fee for tire mounting and installation.
"The whole point is to get customers loyal, to encourage retention and loyalty," Pacifico-Valley said. "If you try and make it a profit center, you've defeated the whole purpose."
"And of course, you do see them twice a year," she said. "At that time you do the multipoint inspections, all the things you do whenever anybody comes in."
Derrick Albrecht, the service and parts director of Lexus of Bellevue in suburban Seattle, said his dealership also offers free winter-tire storage for customers who buy the tires there. Customers pay $25 per tire for mounting and installation.
"It's a service we've been providing for coming up on 15 years," Albrecht said. "It's a natural way to sell more tires."
Albrecht said the dealership program addresses customers' concerns about where to store their winter tires. "It also gives us a great [opportunity] to remind customers in November and April to come and visit us," he said.
The dealership's sales of winter tires vary with the weather, Albrecht said.
"Some years when there's snow, we've sold 400 winter tires," he said. "Some years it's 80. In the Pacific Northwest, we don't have hard winters, but we do get a lot of rain, and the winter tires just work better all around."
Patrick Nove, Lexus of Bellevue's parts manager, estimated that the dealership generally stores around 300 sets of tires. That's a relatively small number, he said, considering that the dealership sells more than 1,200 new vehicles a year, but added that available space imposes limits on tire storage.