a tale of buying winter tires

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Posted by Peter ( on 09:11:34 02/01/11

My wife's 2011 Hyundai Sonota came with 225/45-18 tires. Not so good for Northeast Ohio in the winter. I took a recommendation from Tire Rack and bought their Michelin x-ice Xi2 in size 215/60R16. I also picked up a set of used 2009 Sonata steel wheels for $25 each. Yesterday, I took the gear to a local tire place on TireRack's list and told them to mount them.

Problem #1 - there were locking lug nuts installed on the car and since I bought it used (prior owner drove it for 5k miles and decided he wanted a red car instead of this white one) the lug nut key was no where to be found. The installer offered to "try" to remove the locks and likely damage them and did not have a replacement on hand. I said "no thank you" and left.

Problem #2 - I called the dealer and told them that they would be on the hook for removing the locks at no cost to me and they agreed. The only glitch is that they were 30 miles from the tire installer but I got on the road to get it done to try and avoid the big storm coming through today.

Problem #3 - I would have expected a dealer to be able to remove locking lug nuts that they sold with something more delicate than an air chisel but an hour after my arrival, the locks were off. The dealer only wanted $2 more per tire to mount and balance than my first choice installer so I told them to go ahead. They first checked that the rims would fit and while a tight fit, everything seemed to clear.

Problem #4 - The service manager comes over and says that the tech ruined one tire while mounting it. He can't find another one locally (I could have told him that). They were going to put the original tire/wheels back on the car.

So after 3 hours of my time at the dealer (they also performed some service bulletins) I had the locking lug nuts removed, my original tires still on the car and a hole in one of my new winter tires. Today, The storm has come and with the other family cars having all-season tires, the sonata is in my garage still sitting on 225/45-18 tires.

I ordered a replacement tire from TireRack and the dealer is going to reimburse the cost. Since I live 30 miles away from them, they are going to valet the car and leave us a loaner while they do the work. I am tempted to tell them to forget it but I still want them to cover the cost of the tire so I am going to let them do the work.

I hope that eventually, I can say "and they lived happily ever after" but I am not holding my breath.

- Peter

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