My buddy was not happy, to say the least. He had driven to my home to pick me up in his 2015 Dodge Caravan, and he could not maneuver the vehicle past the apron of my steep driveway.
The late winter snowstorm was to blame, of course, dumping a few inches of snow. And no, his vehicle did not have winter tires.
But he believes the situation could have been averted. My friend had just been to an automotive service center a day earlier — a company-owned store he's done business with often — and had presented a coupon for an oil change and a free tire rotation.
The oil change was completed, he said, but the service manager refused to rotate his tires.
"He told me that the back tires had better tread than the fronts," my friend said, "and that you should always put the tires with the better tread on the back."
That sounds logical — and in fact it's many dealerships' policy — but in all my years of driving — I've owned at least a dozen different makes and models of vehicles, everything from a sportscar to a truck to an all-wheel drive SUV — I have never been advised NOT to rotate my tires.
In fact, I neglected to rotate the replacement set of tires on my current vehicle after the first 5,000 or so miles. When I returned to the tire dealer I bought them from to get them rotated after about 10,000 miles, he reminded me to make sure I rotate them regularly to maximize treadwear.
My friend wonders whether the dealer refused to perform the task because of his coupon. Turns out, though, other dealerships also refused to rotate his tires.
They, too, said that the best tires should be on the back. "One guy told me, 'This sounds strange, but I'm not going to rotate your tires. You should keep them as they are.' "
My buddy can't remember how many times his OEM tires have been rotated, if at all. He bought the Caravan new, and it now has 31,600 miles. He knows the tires haven't been rotated at least during the last three oil changes.
As a result, his front tires will need replaced soon. He plans on keeping the pair in the back for another year, since dealers have told him those tires have plenty of wear left.
My buddy asked me whether or not a dealer should refuse to rotate tires. So rather than answering him, I'm asking you, the experts:
Would you refuse to rotate tires for a customer, given the situation? What advice would you give to a customer who has encountered this situation? Can the customer insist on the service no matter the recommendation? How do you prevent this from happening in the future?
Please let me know what you think. Email me at [email protected].
Mr. Detore is editor of Tire Business. He can be reached by phone at 330-865-6126; Twitter: @dondetore.