Do Not Do As I Have Done…Or Don't Use Walmart Tire

Mokoto, my little Miata, has been a darling car. I’ve enjoyed a lot of miles with her already. One thing I seem to forget to do, however, was rotate my tires. So this past month I have had the wonderful experience of trying to get tires mounted and balanced before I head off to Germany.
I went cheap.
I went weak.
I went to Walmart.
Let me tell you why that was a mistake. 
Now, before Bradley jumps down my throat, I did buy good tires. I actually replaced my worn Dunlop’s with a new set of Direzza DZ102’s. These are the same tire that I just removed. They provide a great balance of dry grip and wet weather stability. These are good mileage tires that are also sticky as hell, and just act as good all round summer tires. But that’s not why I’m writing this. I am writing this to warn you.

Under no circumstance, if you care about your vehicle, time, sanity, or health, should you go to a Walmart Tire and Lube if you can help it. Granted, they might have done everything correctly to my car, but the experience to get this done was something I haven’t experienced since the last time I waited for my turn at the DPS.
It started after I ordered my tires online through them. I figured “Why wouldn’t I get them mounted there?” That seems simple enough. But what is not simple is the fact that they do not have appointments, guarantees of completion by certain times, or anything resembling 2016 technology. The next sin was when I called and asked if they could fit me in the day my tires arrived in Austin. Which was several days ahead of their wild perdition to have my tires there two weeks after I ordered them
“Sure, come on in! Tires and Oil? Sure thing! I’ll see you when you get here!” – Dude at Walmart
So fifteen minutes later, I am at the disgusting desk in the back of the worst Walmart I have ever been in, and ask to get fit in.
“What? No we can’t fit you in today, who told you that?” – Dude who was on the phone with me less than twenty minutes ago.
And that was the straw. Well, not enough to take the tires somewhere else, because Miata, but enough to mentally write off ever using Evilmart again.
I love my car. And I love myself. Most of the time. And If you love yourself, I want to tell you that any savings Walmart can offer you is not worth the torture of the human soul that is waiting in a tiny, un-airconditioned room with a man with moldy, white dude, dreadlocks, and a TV that doesn’t work. There is no way that any amount you are saving can be worth that. So please, if Bradley can decree to never drive on Primewell’s, I will decree that no hoon should take their beloved whip to a Walmart for service.

Mokoto Out.

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  1. Batshitbox Avatar

    My tire guy retired (heh!) from 40 years in the business and closed up the shop about a month after I bought 4 new tires. Top notch guy, so I have no worries.
    Maybe once or twice I’ve been in Sears Tire ‘n’ Auto Center. It struck me as what a holding cell in a city police station must be like. The authority figures are indifferent, the other people are mood swinging between menacing and despondent, you really don’t want to touch any of the surfaces, and just on the other side of the wall are the neck-tattooed hard cases (the mechanics, in this case.)

    1. Alff Avatar

      If you’ve never been in a holding cell in a city police station you haven’t lived life to its full extent.

    2. Surfer Sandman Avatar
      Surfer Sandman

      I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with Sears Tire ‘n’ Auto Center.

  2. Alff Avatar

    I’m with you on Wal Mart but defend my choice to run Primewells on the 4×4.

    1. ptschett Avatar

      One of the old ’87-’96 F-150’s on the farm was shod with Primewells last I looked. They seem to be just fine for that application (short trips, more driving on gravel than on pavement, etc.)

      1. Alff Avatar

        Exactly. This truck has served as a truck for trucky things – the Primewells are a significant upgrade from the Treadwright retreads.

  3. JayP Avatar

    That’s your beef?
    How about paying for an oil change and state inspection when neither occurred? Then have to go to customer service to get 95% of my money back?
    Or getting tires mounted only to find out 3 of the 4 wheels have enough weights on them to sink a battleship?

  4. Madoc Avatar

    My Wal-Mart story: I bought a battery there and I could see the skilled tire installers at work through a window near the counter. I watched the skilled technician wail away on the poor car’s lug nuts with an air gun. He was going to make sure they were on there. Then he picks up a torque wrench and “clicks” each lug nut.
    I’ll be damned, I’ve been doing it wrong.

  5. Scoutdude Avatar

    I don’t think you can really equate your experience with every WalMart or even that to be an everyday thing at the WalMart you went to. I have had them mount and balance tires I brought in with no hassle and w/o trying to up charge me because I didn’t buy the tires from them, which a lot of tires stores did want to do.

    1. JayP Avatar

      Good point… I’m about to need tires for the truck and Walmart has a set for cheep… I’ll let them do the install since I’m getting lazy. Fingers crossed for a better balancing job.

  6. salguod Avatar

    I pretty much never buy anything from Walmart. I hate going to that place.
    For tires, I rarely use anyone but Discount Tire. I’ve lost track of how many sets of tires I’ve bought from them (plus the wheels for the Tbird). They always have the best price or will immediately match anyone else, including Tire Rack (including the shipping). Knowledgeable staff, professional service and hand torqued lug nuts.
    When I destroyed a tire on the 318ti recently and took in the receipt from the previous owner showing that they had paid for the replacement warranty, they honored it without hesitation.
    Can’t say enough good things about them.
    I have used the local Firestone for a set or two (my daughter’s Escort has Primewells on it), our local shop is top notch. I use them for the occasional repair I don’t want to tackle.

    1. ninjabortion Avatar

      Walmart in general is a terrible place to visit or support. I try to avoid it at all costs. If i’m in the middle of nowhere and need something to get me going again i’ll do it, but only if there is no other way around it.

  7. desmo Avatar

    Walmart is not your problem, bro.
    Your problem is wheel alignment. This is one bad example of positive camber angle.
    You must have changed something on suspension/chassis before attaching new tires.

  8. Maymar Avatar

    I’ve only used WalMart once, for my dad’s old Accent (running 13″s, which was the size they used to promote their low, low prices, because who runs 13″s anymore?). I feel no need to ever go back, but it wasn’t an awful experience.
    On the other hand, I’ve used Canadian Tire multiple times, and I mostly live to regret it. My last experience was last year – I still had my snow tires on through July because I had only finally gotten around to buying rims to mount my summer tires on (and left the snows on the factory steelies). I hadn’t yet got the mounting rings I needed, but I wanted to return the tires on the new rims to the guy I bought them from (not my size, he was still able to use them). I bring the car in, I tell the service advisor I need my summer tires (in the car) swapped onto the rims (also in the car), and they seem to get it. Someone in the process did not, as I later found my car on the hoist with the wheels off, for no good reason. Fine, whatever, and they got it sorted out quickly. Unfortunately, they neglected to rebalance my tires without me bringing it back and pointing out that was probably necessary.

  9. P161911 Avatar

    I’m ashamed to admit that the last tires I put on the Trailblazer came from Wal-Mart. Two reasons, I was super busy with no time off during the week and the good professional tire store that has had the same guys working there for 20 years (Gran Turismo in Atlanta) is over an hour away and not open on weekends. Also, they were $100 cheaper than anyone else for a pair of Bridgestones and I was tight on funds at the time. No complaints.
    Also, since when are you confined to the waiting room at Wal-mart? Go wander the store, go play the demo Xbox in electronics, check for .22LR ammo, buy your groceries, read the new magazines in the book section, whatever, just don’t sit in the little waiting room.

  10. neight428 Avatar

    There are no free lunches, and people who give a rip about anything cost more for retailers to hire and retain than is available in Walmart’s business model. Being one of their managers must be a soul crushing experience. Tires are one of those unavoidable things that everyone needs at some point, so you get exposure to the DMV-esque cross section of humanity that you unconsciously order your life so as to avoid. Around these parts, if you can find a reliable llantera (that is, a dude from Mexico with the right tools/machines) and have another vehicle to ferry wheels/tires purchased on the internet, it’s the best low-cost tradeoff I’ve found.

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      Personally I have most of my tires mounted and balanced at the local High School. Yes it still has an auto shop and they are even putting one in the new school that is currently under construction. No charge and they have nice newer equipment. Though I do contribute to their student auto club from time to time.
      I do usually take them in loose and a pair at a time so that spreads out a change over to 2 days but it is worth it to me to save the money and provide an opportunity for the students. And yea for most of my cars I’ve got more than one set of tires and wheels and I’ve got vehicles that I can carry them in w/o concern of getting them dirty.

  11. dukeisduke Avatar

    The thing with Prime Well that gets me is that they can’t even get their own name right. I’ve seen their tires with “PRIMEWELL” on the sidewall, and some marked “PRIME WELL”. And no, I’ll never run Chinese tires on any of my cars.

  12. dukeisduke Avatar

    And as tire dealers go, I stick with Discount Tire.

    1. JohnComposMentis Avatar

      I used to like Discount Tire for their useful website and efficient service until my most recent purchase, a set of 4 Michelins for my Honda Fit. The sales person told me about the included warranty and segued into “road hazard” coverage as if it were all part of the regular warranty, when in fact it cost $20 per tire. He simply put it on the bill without telling me about the extra charge, which I didn’t notice until I got home. The manager apologized, but I still gave them 2 stars on one of those surveys where they insist they need 5 stars or they won’t be able to feed their family.

  13. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    In the Pacific Northwest Les Schwab is a bit of an institution. They have been both competent and not too badly priced after a couple of decades. Also the one nearest to me happens to be on the same road as Les Schwab corporate HQ. so come snow tire season we will see how good they are.

  14. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    A long time ago I went to some tire shop with my TR with wire wheels and knock off hubs. I caught the guy just in time getting ready to hit them with a steel sledge. NO! Here is a nice soft lead mallet. I’ve been very careful since then.

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