Well, there is no doubt about how this winter has impacted (pun intended) tire and wheel and suspension sales. Just over the weekend, more and more stories came across my desk about such damage and potholes, and a couple of readers offered their thoughts, as well.
The AAA Mid-Atlantic, normally not the epicenter for winter tire woes, reported a 10% year-over-year jump in tire-related emergency calls in January and February. More than 9,000 such calls were made by area members.
From Milwaukee came a story about how the city and state are struggling to find the money to fix potted roadways, while drivers struggle to pay for new – even used – tires. “I bought used tires because I’m not even working right now, and those cost me $150 for two used ones with the rim,” one man said.
A local TV station reported that, “In October, a national research group ranked Milwaukee’s major roadways as the country’s eighth worst, saying poor road conditions cost Milwaukee drivers an extra $700 a year in operating costs. ‘There’s no way to sugarcoat this – our roads are in bad condition,’ Milwaukee Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban said.”
Up in Maine, frost heaves (those ‘speed bumps’ that rise unexpectedly from roadways) and potholes are claiming tires and wheels in record numbers. “We try to take it easy on the tire costs because it’s an unexpected cost and that’s the hardest part,” Heath Lovely, of Tire Warehouse in Portland, told local media.
Another unexpected headache comes in the form of spare tires….rather the lack of them in certain makes and models of cars. So-called ‘convenience kits’ hardly do the job when a bone-jarring pothole tears a hole in the sidewall of a tire. This is exactly what happened to a pair of 60-year-old women who rented a car from Budget to visit relatives in Ontario.
Plus, Budget insisted they pay for a new tire, a demand that quickly disappeared once the media made calls.
Over in eastern Iowa, a couple of tire dealers – Marion Tire Company in Marion, and Goodyear Tire Center in Marion – made the local news report about damaged tires, wheels and suspension components.
“We are seeing a lot of broken suspensions. Also a lot of bent wheels, damaged tires and control arms,” Goodyear Tire Center owner Troy Benham said.
“Jim, we do not call them ‘potholes’ because they are craters that are everywhere. This has been the worst pothole season I have seen in years,” wrote friend of the show Barry Steinberg of Direct Tire in the Boston area.
“Everyday there are flat bed tow trucks each with two flats on each car at all of my four locations. Besides the tire replacements, our wheel business has been off the charts; replacement and repairs every day.
“This is good for business but some very bad karma,” he warned. “These are unexpected, inconvenient and expensive repairs. I would prefer replacing tires when they wear out rather than a situation that creates unhappy clients. I should have been in the asphalt business. Talk about seasonal demand.”
Finally, for those of you desperately looking for OE and replacement wheels, Todd Deranek of Blackburn’s Hubcap & Wheel Solutions in Macedonia, Ohio, said to give him a shout. He’s available at [email protected].