YONKERS, N.Y. — Members of Consumer Reports Inc. who had purchased tires in 2017-18 rated Les Schwab Tire Centers and Discount Tire/America's Tire as their favorite places to shop for tires, according to a recent survey by the non-profit group of its members.
The ratings, reported in the latest monthly issue of Consumer Reports magazine, were based on survey responses from 30,000-plus members who responded to a survey request. The time period covered was fall 2017 through fall 2018.
CR also noted that independent retailers considered together as a broad category but otherwise not identified individually were rated on par with Les Schwab and Discount Tire.
Les Schwab Tire Centers, with locations in nine Western/Rocky Mountain states, got top marks from Consumer Reports members for their sales staff, free perks (such as tire mounting, tire balancing, or tire rotation), installation quality, waiting area and easy checkout.
Members rated the installation time at Les Schwab as better than average, Consumer Reports said, while also noting that the product selection there was "average."
Roughly two-thirds of the retail chains rated earned an overall "favorable" mark for satisfaction, CR said, with scores ranging from 83 to 91 points out of a possible 100. The lower one-third of retailers earned passable scores ranging from 78 to 82 points.
Ninety percent of the tire buyers in the organization's survey said they were "highly satisfied" with their purchase and 88% were "highly satisfied" with their installation experience.
"The tire buying experience looks quite positive for most shoppers, based on our latest member survey," Gene Petersen, Consumer Reports' tire program manager, said, "but there are substantial differences in facets of the shopping experience that may drive customers to favor certain retailers. For instance, online retailers offer a wide selection, while physical retail stores are limited but may be able to get what you want if you can wait."
Three-fourths of buyers were "highly satisfied" with the price they paid for tires and installation, CR said. Other key factors include quality of service from installation professionals (84%), sales service (83%) and ease of checkout (83%).
Respondents were somewhat less likely to be highly satisfied with product selection (70%), installation time (68%) and waiting areas (67%).
CR members reported a typical installation time of 33 minutes per tire — or roughly two-plus hours for a four-tire installation to be finished. Only 2% of consumers reported that their tire installation required waiting until the next day or longer to complete.
Pep Boys, Mavis Discount Tire and NTB Tire & Service are at the bottom of the 30 retail outlets or retail categories shown in the newest CR tire retailer ratings. All got lower marks for the lack of free perks and the amount of time it takes them to install tires, CR said. However, they are still rated very well, overall.