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We give tire and wheel protection warranties a thumbs down

Tire and wheel warranties seem like a good idea until you actually need them.

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Many new-car dealers offer to sell customers a tire and wheel protection “warranty” when the customer has finished up the process of negotiating a price for a new car. These after-sales offers, as they are called, are particularly tempting to new buyers who just shelled out tens of thousands of dollars for a new car. The instinct to protect that purchase is strong, and dealers know it. Here is why we say to resist the temptation and walk away.

Tire and wheel protection plans from dealers sound great when you are discussing them. The pitch is that the plan you buy will replace or repair your tire and or your rim if you hit something like a pot-hole or curb. Our experience is that is not always the case. Take Pamela for instance. She bought a protection package for her rims and tires on her premium sports coupe. However, when she needed the plan a few months after her purchase the dealership told her that her factory rims were so special nobody in the area could repair them. Rather than replace the rims, the dealer offered to refund the cost of the protection plan.

One reason that the plans are stressful to put to use is that tire and rim damage is very subjective. What you may feel is a danger the shop may say is just minor cosmetic damage. Then what? One plan buyer we knew had a tough time just getting a replacement tire after a puncture in the outside tread block. The dealer fought the replacement of the tire and then wanted to pro-rate the cost after the shop technician said repairing the tire would be too dangerous. The plans always seem so simple until one needs them.

We are sure there are many dealers who offer plans that are fair and have value in some cases. But how can one know? In defense of the protection plans, we have heard from some BMW owners that they used the plan to replace multiple tires and rims on the same vehicle with no fuss. However, after we looked into that issue more closely, we found that the tire manufacturers already offered replacement tires for the pricey run flats customers thought their special added plan was covering.

If you are considering a car that is so delicate it may suffer damaged wheels and tires, perhaps that model or brand is not for you? More and more, this is a moot point, since all automakers seem intent on offering only low-profile tires on top trim levels.

If your new car is one which you feel must be protected we still urge you to stop and not purchase while at the dealership. Instead, before you decide to buy a certain model and make, shop the plans by phone among multiple dealers of that brand of vehicle. At least then you are in the driver’s seat and can compare offerings and prices. If these plans are not transferable from one dealer to the next, we say that is a red flag indicating the plan you are considering is questionable.

Related Stories:
We put BMW run-flat tires to the test and give them a thumbs-down
The free run-flat tire road hazard warranty your tire shop forgot to tell you about
Study says run-flat tire customer satisfaction lower

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Mark Jordan (not verified)    November 16, 2017 - 1:26PM

Actually the tire and wheel package covers ALL tires and wheels on BMW's, not just the tires covered by road hazard (Pirelli and Continental). At lwast for BMW owners, the package is VERY handy.

Bob Jordan (not verified)    December 6, 2018 - 1:56PM

NEVER buy the tire warranty. The coverage is void if you don't maintain a certain tread depth. Makes sense if it is reasonable. I bought 5 year coverage and ran over a nail at 2 years and about 20k miles. No coverage. Additionally, they wanted to sell me another tire to replace its mate. Because of the short life of run flats and the substantial tread requirement, you will very rarely be covered. Maybe in the first year if that.

Jaikumar R Menon (not verified)    October 3, 2019 - 8:42AM

How do you cancel and get a refund on the tire and rim insurance purchased few days back on my new car?

Patricia Nevitt (not verified)    October 3, 2019 - 3:35PM

AAA Northeast provides a Member benefit called Complete Care Plus. It is one of the most comprehensive policies I've seen in the industry. Tire & Wheel repair or replace, key and or key fob replacement and paintless dent repair. The options range from 12 - 84 months, to maximum limits on the T&W, $5k on the keys and always a zero deductible. direct pay, not reimbursement. In most instances, the cost to replace a T&, exceeds the total premium of the coverage. I disagree with those that state this plan is not worth it, it far exceeds our members expectations!

stan (not verified)    December 11, 2019 - 8:50AM

do not buy this coverage. we got a full refund because all the claims are lies. The audi dealer puts the cheapest tires on used cars and then tells you they are all runflats $380 each. Then they say the rimes are $880 each which is true only if you buy from them. Chances are the rim will not ever break. Then they lied about the key fob saying they are $600 each and only one comes with the car. Lies $300 for a replacement and we got two and we never lose keys.

Mirchand (not verified)    November 21, 2020 - 9:15PM

My son bought car and dealer put tire rim protection for $2000/, scratch for $3000/, extended warranty for $4000/. He was told about monthly car loan protection$370/mon, but was not told borrowing price of $29000/. Where as sales agent I told him car price as $18000/.
Be careful when you go to car dealer. Do not sign agreement without understanding