Why Are Walmart Tires So Cheap? A Thorough Breakdown

If you‘ve shopped around for new tires lately, you‘ve probably noticed Walmart offers some of the lowest prices around. A new set of four tires at Walmart costs an average of $400-500 compared to $600-800 at other major retailers.

But how can Walmart sell tires so cheaply? Are you really getting the same quality as premium brand name tires that cost twice as much?

I‘ve compared Walmart‘s tire selection, pricing, warranties, and services versus competitors like Costco, Discount Tire, NTB, and more. Here‘s a detailed breakdown of why Walmart tires are so inexpensive, along with the tradeoffs of going the cheap tire route.

Summary: Why Walmart Tires Are So Cheap

Before diving into the details, here‘s a high-level overview on why Walmart tire prices are so budget-friendly:

1. Loss Leader Pricing Strategy – Walmart sells tires at ultra-low prices to get customers in store and direct them toward higher margin services.

2. Exclusive Tire Brand Deals – Walmart partners with major brands to offer cheaper "private label" tires exclusive to Walmart.

3. Minimal Installation Fees – Walmart installation fees are up to 50% less than other retailers.

4. Restrictive Return Policy – Walmart places limitations on returning/exchanging used tires.

5. À La Carte Services – Added services beyond tire installation cost extra at Walmart. Most retailers bundle services.

6. Focus on High Volume – Walmart caters to budget shoppers and moves high quantities of cheaper tires.

Now let‘s explore each factor in more detail…

Walmart Tires Are A "Loss Leader" to Increase Store Traffic

Walmart is happy to sell tires at lower margins (or even a small loss) because tires act as a "loss leader" for the automotive department. Tires get customers in the door and funnel them toward more profitable services like alignments, oil changes, batteries, brakes, and other car maintenance.

The average gross margin on tires industry-wide is around 15%. But by using tires as a traffic driver, Walmart recoups profits through volume and its complete suite of auto services. Installation and mechanical service have much higher profit margins.

And the numbers prove shoppers do take the bait…

  • Walmart customers pay an average of $102 per tire.
  • Comparable tires at Costco average $165 per tire.
  • Discount Tire‘s average tire price is $144.

This allows Walmart to undercut competitors by 30-60% while still making money on high-margin add-on services.

Walmart Partners Directly With Brands for Cheaper Tires

In addition to loss leader pricing, another driver of Walmart‘s cheap tires is "private label" brands exclusive to Walmart.

Walmart partners directly with major tire manufacturers to produce cheaper versions of their brand name tires:

Douglas Tires

  • Produced by Goodyear exclusively for sale at Walmart
  • Offer good dry traction but poor wet handling per reviews
  • Retail around $50-$65 per tire for common passenger vehicle sizes

Wrangler Fortitude HT

  • Manufactured by Michelin for Walmart
  • All-season highway tire rated for 65,000 miles
  • Retails for $72-$95 per tire

Private Label Tires

  • Made by Cooper Tire for Walmart
  • Cover budget to mid-range offerings
  • Retail for $45-$100 per tire depending on line

These "original equipment" tires allow big brands to tap into the budget tire market without diluting their premium tire lineup. And Walmart gets name brand tires at significant discounts.

But the tradeoff is that these cheaper tires won‘t match the longevity, ride quality, and performance of the same brands‘ top-line tires. You have to decide if the upfront savings outweigh losing some features and mileage longevity.

Walmart Installation Fees Are Rock Bottom

Walmart doesn‘t just offer cheap tires, it also provides budget tire installation to seal the deal. Installation fees at Walmart run 50% or more below competitors.

Retailer Average Tire Installation Fee
Walmart $12-$15 per tire
Discount Tire $19 per tire
BJ‘s Tire Center $20 per tire
Town Fair Tire Centers $23 per tire
Firestone $25 per tire
Pep Boys $30 per tire

With total out-the-door tire and installation prices 30-60% less than other shops, Walmart delivers massive upfront savings.

Limited Flexibility for Tire Returns

Along with rock-bottom pricing, one way Walmart keeps tire costs low is restricting returns and warranty replacements.

Walmart will only accept full refunds on unused tires returned within 90 days of purchase date. If you‘ve had the tires mounted or driven on them, you are no longer eligible for a return.

This differs from Walmart‘s traditional 90-day return policy where you can get a full refund on used products, no questions asked.

To get any coverage beyond 90 days, you must pre-purchase Walmart‘s Road Hazard Warranty for $10 per tire. This covers defects over the life of the tire for the original buyer.

So Walmart‘s tire return policy is much less flexible than for most other products. This reduces Walmart‘s risk of getting stuck with used tires they can‘t resell at full price.

À La Carte Pricing on Services Beyond Tires

Here‘s one more way Walmart keeps tire prices low: no free additional services or perks.

The base Walmart tire price gets you just the tires and installation. Any other services like mounting, rotations, flat repairs, or oil changes are add-ons that cost extra.

This differs from many tire shops and dealerships that bundle freebies like:

  • Free tire rotations
  • Free flat repairs
  • Free tire replacements within 30-90 days for unforeseen damage
  • Free multi-point inspections
  • Discounted or free oil changes
  • Discounted alignments or other repairs

With Walmart, you pay only for the tires and installation. While this keeps costs low upfront, you lose out on the bundled perks common at other retailers. Make sure to factor in costs for future maintenance.

Walmart Focuses on High Volume Budget Tire Sales

With over 4,700 stores in the US, Walmart‘s massive size allows it to focus on high volume sales of cheaper tires.

Smaller regional tire shops need to prioritize more expensive tires and packages to turn enough profit on lower volumes.

But Walmart‘s huge scale means it can operate on thin margins by selling lots of budget minded shoppers cheaper tires. Volume makes up for lower per-tire profits.

This focus on providing cheap tires to the mass market aligns with Walmart‘s overall low-price appeal.

Now that you understand why Walmart‘s tires are so inexpensive, how do they compare against the competition on price, quality, and services?

Here‘s an overview of how Walmart tires stack up versus popular retailers like Costco, Discount Tire, NTB, and more:



  • Costco tires run $60-$100 more per tire than Walmart for similar models
  • Installation fees around $20 per tire, a bit higher than Walmart

Tire Brands

  • Major brands like Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear, Pirelli
  • No cheap private label tires


  • Free flat repairs
  • Free tire rotations
  • Free tire rebalancing
  • Free flat repairs
  • Free tire hazard warranty
  • Discounted alignment checks


  • Lifetime guarantee on installations/repairs
  • Fairly flexible on tire returns within reasonable limits

Bottom Line

Costco tires cost considerably more upfront but come with better warranties, bundled services, and a more lenient return policy. You pay more but get more long-term value.

Discount Tire


  • Similar tire brands run $30-$60 more per tire versus Walmart
  • Installation around $19 per tire

Tire Brands

  • Major brands like Michelin, Goodyear, BFGoodrich, Pirelli
  • Budget brands like Hercules


  • Free flat tire repair
  • Free tire rotations
  • Free tire rebalancing
  • Free brake and alignment checks
  • Free lifetime tire hazard warranty


  • Fairly flexible return policy, especially with warranty

Bottom Line

Discount Tire offers far more services and perks than Walmart, but at a higher upfront price. Excellent warranty packages provide peace of mind.



  • Similar tire prices to Discount Tire, around $30-$70 more per tire versus Walmart
  • Installation fees around $20 per tire

Tire Brands

  • Major brands like Goodyear, BFGoodrich, Michelin, Pirelli
  • Budget brands like Hercules


  • Free lifetime tire rotations
  • Free flat tire repair
  • Free tire rebalancing
  • Free 12-month road hazard warranty
  • Free brake and battery checks


  • Decent flexibility for warranty returns

Bottom Line

NTB provides comparable tires and prices to Discount Tire with slightly less comprehensive bundles. Still far more included services than Walmart.

Pep Boys


  • Similar tire prices to NTB and Discount, roughly $30-$70 more per tire than Walmart
  • Higher installation fees, around $30 per tire

Tire Brands

  • Mix of major brands like Michelin, Goodyear, Bridgestone
  • Budget brands like Hercules


  • Free tire rotations
  • Free flat tire repair
  • Free tire rebalancing
  • Free 12-month road hazard warranty
  • Frequent discount promos on tires and installation


  • Fairly flexible return policy within warranty period

Bottom Line

Good tire selection with bundle services similar to NTB and Discount Tire. Installation fees run a bit higher.

Given the tradeoffs, when does it make sense to buy cheaper Walmart tires versus splurging on more expensive options? Here are a few guidelines.

Consider Walmart Tires If:

You drive minimal miles – If you drive 5,000 miles a year or less, budget tires can make sense since you won‘t wear through tread as quickly.

You just need a temporary spare – For a spare donut tire you‘ll rarely use, cheap is fine.

You plan to sell the car soon – If you‘re going to sell the car within a couple years, cheaper tires may suit. No need to splurge on pricier tires that will outlast the car.

You absolutely need to minimize upfront cost – If getting on the road for the least money possible is priority one, Walmart tires get the job done.

You only drive in warm, dry conditions – Cheaper tires perform decently in ideal conditions but lack grip when it‘s wet/snowy. If you avoid snow and rain driving, you can get by with budget picks.

When to Consider Paying More:

You drive high mileage annually – With lower projected mileages, premium tires often make more economic sense in the long run.

You drive in varied weather conditions – Areas with rain, snow, and extremes in temperature call for tires with better traction.

You keep cars long term – If you put 100k+ miles on your vehicles, it pays to buy tires that go the distance.

Peace of mind is worth it – For some, warranty bundles and roadside assistance provide value beyond just saving money.

You can find deals on name brands – Often you can find name brand tires for just moderately more than Walmart‘s prices if you look for sales and rebates.

Looking for more ways to save on tires beyond just buying the cheapest options? Here are some tips:

Compare bundles not just tire prices – A more expensive tire may come with free rotations, warranty, etc. that save money long run.

Ask for package discounts – Many shops offer multi-tire or combo package discounts if you ask. Don‘t pay list prices.

Consider used tires – For older vehicles, good condition used tires can provide huge savings. Check safety and tread first.

Shop end of year sales – Look for big clearance sales as tire shops make room for new year models.

Check rebates and coupons – Manufacturers and shops often offer instant or mail-in savings you can stack.

Get quotes online – Use sites like TireRack.com to comparison shop prices across brands and retailers.

Negotiate pricing – Haggle! Especially on installation and add-ons. Don‘t be afraid to ask for a better offer.

Walmart offers a range of tire options from basic to more premium. Here are some of the better Walmart tires for typical vehicles and driving:

Vehicle Top Walmart Tire Options
Small/Midsize Car Douglas All Season, Michelin Defender T+H
Full Size Sedan Michelin Defender, BFGoodrich Advantage T/A
Crossover/SUV Douglas All Terrain, Wrangler Fortitude HT
Pickup Truck Wrangler TrailRunner AT, Cooper Discoverer HTP
Performance Car Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate, Dunlop Direzza ZIII

I suggest reading customer reviews and checking manufacturer ratings on attributes like treadwear, wet/dry traction, and noise before purchasing.

And don‘t hesitate to ask Walmart associates for guidance on the best tires for your specific vehicle and driving conditions. Many have extensive knowledge.

I know this was an overload of information on Walmart tires! The key conclusions:

  • Walmart tires provide huge upfront cost savings compared to other retailers.

  • But you sacrifice some quality, longevity, and warranty perks versus more premium brands.

  • Make sure you understand these tradeoffs when deciding where to purchase tires.

Don‘t just default to the cheapest options without considering your individual driving needs. And always compare bundled services/warranties, not just the base tire prices.

Armed with the facts, you can make an informed decision on whether cheaper Walmart tires or pricier alternatives are the best fit for your vehicle! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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