Car ownership is a costly affair, starting with car payments, auto insurance, regular maintenance, and repairs. On average, it costs about $9,000 per year to drive a car, but a recent AAA (American Automobile Association) study revealed about one-third of Americans aren’t prepared to pay for unexpected auto repairs. Additionally, many car owners simply don’t set aside enough money for service items, such as engine oil changes, brake repairs, and tire replacement. Despite the fact that tires indeed wear out, just like brakes and engine oil, tire replacement seems to come along as an “unexpected repair.” If you’re one of those one-third who doesn’t have actual cash set aside for tire replacement, should you finance?
You Can Finance Your Tire Purchase, but Should You?
As with car payments and credit card payments, “financing” a tire purchase comes with an additional cost, especially if you aren’t careful. There are generally two ways to go about financing a tire purchase, such as dealer financing or credit card purchase.
Depending on the terms, you may be able to benefit from an introductory period on large purchases using a credit card – a new tire generally costs $100 to $300, mounted and balanced. A 0% APR (annual percentage rate) introductory rate might last 3 to 6 months, after which the full APR, usually 20% to 30%, will kick in. If you aren’t careful, and you can’t pay off the entire purchase within the introductory period, you’ll face high interest payments on the remaining balance, and sometimes retroactive to the original purchase date! Read the fine print, carefully!
Still, there are times when financing might be your only option, especially if you absolutely need tires because of wear, damage, or you are facing going into winter with a set of inadequate tires. In this case, it may not be wise holding off on a tire purchase, particularly because your safety is involved. You may indeed end up paying more, but you’ll live to tell the tale, a little poorer, but a little wiser for the experience.