Rent a tire businesses are springing up like mushrooms. It’s really amazing to discover how many tire businesses in the USA are offering rent-to-own plans for tires.
We’re going to look at the idea behind “Rent-A-Tire” instead of the actual businesses which use that name, because there are other businesses with different names that offer the same plan.
To my way of thinking it seems rather strange to rent something that you use up and will need to replace in a relatively short period of time. Taken to one extreme, can you really imagine renting a Pizza?
On the other hand, it seems that there are a substantial number of people who own cars and who need to replace tires on them but who do not have the cash available to buy those tires. What do they do?
A need filled
Obviously, the rent-a-tire businesses that can be found around the country came into being to fill this need. And, as shown by their success, they have found a niche which has a lot of demand.
According to recent studies, as many as 35% of Americans are unable to qualify for traditional forms of Credit Cards and financing for their purchases. These businesses have mushroomed to fill that need. Just two national franchises, Rent A Wheel and RNR Tire Express have close to 200 stores spread around the country. Using very conservative projections it is easy to estimate that just these stores alone are selling more than $96,000,000 a year!
What is Rent a Tire?
In legal terms it appears to be a form of leasing in which the person who needs tires, but doesn’t have the cash to purchase them, typically agrees to a weekly (or other period) payment for 12 or 18 months in order to get new tires right away.
The unfortunate part of this appears to be that the people who sign up for these iron-clad rental contracts do not realize how much more they are paying for their tires.
I’ve read of one family who signed up to pay something like $14.00 a week over 18 months to outfit their tires with a new set of Hankook tires. Sounds pretty affordable, but when you work it out you see that this ends up being some $1008.00 for a set of tires that they might have bought for less than $300.00 at a nearby Walmart store.
This is the real danger and drawback, in my opinion, to the idea of tire rental, or tire leasing but there is one other consideration that is even more scary. There have been reports of people that have missed a payment –ONE single payment– and when they went out to get in their car, found it up on cinder blocks and their tires and wheels gone!
This may be an extreme or rare case, but it does show what a buyer might have in store for them if they miss a payment. And the worst thing of all is that it is completely legal and there’s nothing that can be done about it.
Alternatives to Rent a Tire
There are some people who are indignant at the audacity of these businesses who leech on the people they sell to, but I don’t look at it that way. I see them offering an easy way out of a common problem which many people have and, unfortunately, too many people simply don’t want to make the effort or sacrifices necessary to change the habits they have that got them into the predicament which they are in. Nobody forces these people to deal with these companies.
I believe there are alternatives to getting into this kind of situation. The key is to realize that your tires are subject to wear and will need to be replaced. Then take some preventative action such as:
- cutting back on your diving needs, possibly through car-pooling and ride sharing until you can scrape together the cash to buy replacement tires.
- downsize your vehicle. Consider switching to a smaller, cheaper one in which you might even gain some cash in making the switch, then putting some of that cash aside for needed maintenance when it comes time.
- Read our article on Cheap Tires to get some other ideas about where to buy tires that cost less.
- Look after the tires you have by checking them regularly and taking corrective action early.
If anyone does just a part of what I’ve suggested they can go a long way toward avoiding the need to rent their tires at a cost of several times what they could otherwise cost.