Don’t get me wrong, I love my local tire store. They have a fascinating jar on the counter filled with all the metal detritus they pull out of people’s tires—nails, screws, scraps of medieval maces that somehow ended up out on Route 1. They’re fair, and they do a great job, but while they’re working you’ve got to wait, or beg a ride home, or hoof it on foot. I’ve done all three—it’s about a three-mile hike home—and none of them are particularly appealing. Tire Rack, though, has a solution: Bring the tire store to your house with mobile installation.
I should declare right up front here that Tire Rack had nothing to do with this story, lest you suspect that my tire-acquiring decisions were dictated by the promise of discount rubber. Nope. I was just dithering around on their website, as one does, sussing out tire options (and maybe trying out the look of some new rims) on our family Pacifica, when I noticed a new-to-me installation option. In addition to the one Tire Rack–affiliated local garage, there was an icon for a mobile installation outfit called Tire Works floating nearby on the map. I called the number and talked to a fellow named Rodney. “So, if I order tires, you’ll come to my house and install them?” He affirmed that, yes, that’s what mobile installation means. But it seemed too good to be true, so I had to ask.
About a week later, a white truck emblazoned with the Tire Works logo showed up at my house, bearing the four Continental CrossContact LX Sports I’d ordered for the Pacifica (Tire Rack will ship directly to the installer). Rodney introduced himself and after we got done jawing—he was working on redeveloping an old high school, and I had all sorts of ideas on what to do with that—I pulled the Pacifica around next to his truck in the cul-de-sac in front of our house. He chocked the tires, produced a hefty jack and an impact gun, and got down to business.
Over the next hour or so, I occasionally peeked into the truck to observe the behind-the-scenes magic of mounting and balancing, but mostly I didn’t want to bother Rodney. So I went back inside my house, which felt like a preposterous indulgence. Look at me, getting tires changed right in front of my driveway, like the king of England or something! I mean, no slight to the coffee at my local tire shop waiting room, but mine is better.
Eventually, I peeked out the window and saw the Pacifica sitting square to the pavement once again, its four fresh Continentals ready for the next several years of extreme high-performance driving (taking the dogs to the dog park), and its trashed OEM Michelins conveniently disappeared to some dark corner of the truck. I handed Rodney my credit card, he ran it in a mobile Clover reader, and the deal was done. Total damage on the install: $240. And while I’m not quite sure what the average charge is for mounting/balancing/disposal at a brick-and-mortar shop, $60 per corner seems pretty fair to have the tire store come to you.
I don’t know if I’ll go this route every time I need—as the kids say—”new shoes for my ride,” but if mobile tire installation is available where you live, I highly recommend it. No matter how near your proximity to a tire store, it’s not going to get any closer than your own driveway.
Ezra Dyer is a Car and Driver senior editor and columnist. He’s now based in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once drove 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive.