Pit Stop: New treads for the truck at Discount Tire
As a road trip blogger, it’s vitally important for me to keep my Ford F-150 transport vehicle in tip-top shape. After more than three years and tens of thousands of miles, I was due for a new set of tires. I am one of those people who is very brand loyal when I find a company I like. When I was seventeen I had an ol’ beat up ’78 Camaro I was fixing up. I’ll never forget the expression on the folks faces when I first drove up in my new (very used) sports car. They both shook their heads and said, “Well, if that’s what you want to do,” and walked away with an air of apprehension and dismay. They could not get over the fact that I had sold a perfectly good vehicle for what they saw, was a piece of junk. Little did they know how it would end up looking six months later.
One of the first things I did to make my Camaro look cool was to buy a new set of tires and wheels. Discount Tire was a local company just down the street, with a reputation as the best place in Arizona to get a good deal on tires and wheels. As a high school kid with limited funds, the word “discount” resonated with me. I remember the hilarious commercials Discount used to air with an old lady throwing a tire through a window of one of their stores…with voice-over saying, “If ever you’re not satisfied with one of our tires, please…bring it back.” [I didn’t even look that slogan up, I think I remembered it verbatim after all these years]. I guess it was the combination of reputation, creative/effective marketing and convenient location that initially got me in the door. I’ll never forget the feeling I had seeing my Camaro sporting new tires and wheels…even though the rest of the car looked like junk, the new addition made ya take notice.
When you walk into a You are truly made to feel welcomed, and you get the sense that they not only want to earn your business that day, but for a lifetime. You will not feel any sense of pressure to buy a particular set of tires, but rather the service folks want to help you make a decision that is right for you.
Whether you have an appointment or not, the guys in the service bay will hustle to get you back on the road in no time. After more than 50 years of only selling tires and wheels, Discount Tire is a well-oiled machine that has service and installation down to a science. I’ve never seen what appears to be chaos, come together like a well orchestrated symphony of teamwork. As cars come in and out of the bays, like train cars at a station, the team is constantly communicating with one another so everyone is on the same page. A supervisor (or perhaps he should be known as a conductor) will let the team know what tasks are to be performed as cars enter the bay. Tires will be fetched and brought to the vehicle while the old tires are dismounted. There is a constant stream of movement to and from the vehicle and service areas…one guy will be taking the old tires off the wheels, while another guy takes off weights and preps the next tire. The process is like an assembly line, where the tire then moves to the balancing station, until finally it’s rolled off toward a waiting vehicle. There must be 4-6 guys working on a single car to get it out the door as quickly as possible.
I was up in Spokane, Washington when I purchased my last set of tires. As a road trip blogger, I never know where I’ll be—so it’s nice to know that with over 800 locations across the country, if anything happens to my tires, there’s a good chance there will be a Discount Tire near by. I often use their free air check and balancing services…and, I’ve even had to use the road hazard warranty a couple of times. I had a tread separation in Provo, Utah once and the guys at the Discount Tire store fixed me up and got me on my way…free of charge (excluding the new tire warranty that is).
I’m not sure why, but I rarely get the same tires each time. I guess a lot depends on availability for my tire size. On my current F-150, I had a couple/three sets of stock Goodyear Tires, but they just didn’t seem to last very long, so the last time I opted for Yokohama Tires. These were a really nice set of ATS (all terrain) tires and they’ve lasted a long time. My only complaint was the fact that the tread spacing was quite wide and when I’d go off road, I’d often pick up rocks. Over the years I’ve had a few sets of the Pathfinder tires, which is an exclusive brand to Discount Tire. I have found the Pathfinder tires to be good performers, long lasting and quite affordable for what you get. So, when Discount Tire offered to let me try out a set, I jumped at the chance. After I’ve had an opportunity to drive on them for a while, both on and off-road, I’ll do a follow-up post on their performance (See below).
As someone who does a lot of driving on varied surfaces, including off-road, I really need a tire that is the complete package…one that is good on the highway, inclement conditions, as well as rugged and off-road. The Pathfinder Sport S A/T seems to fit the bill…it combines a smart balance of on-road handling and off-road traction. The durable, specialized tread compound resists chipping and cutting during off-road adventures and is backed by a 60,000-mile warranty. The tire’s winter rating assures reliable traction year-round.
As you can tell, I’m a pretty big fan of Discount Tire. They are a company that embodies the fundamental ingredients for success. Discount Tire is one of only a couple dozen companies that I go out of my way to recommend to people. If you are a Discount Tire customer, I’d love to hear about your experience with the company…please leave a comment below.
UPDATE (February 2015)
Well, it’s been a year driving on my Pathfinder Sport A/T tires and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve driven over 14,000 miles and you’d hardly know it as the tread doesn’t appear to be that worn. I’ve really put the tires through the paces too…from rugged off roads, steep dirt inclines, plenty of city and highway driving, to inclement weather conditions in Colorado a few months ago during Thanksgiving. I even tested the tire traction on a rugged and steep hill the other day in 2 wheel drive to see if I could make it up without putting the truck into four-wheel drive, and, without the tires spinning. I took it pretty slow, and was quite impressed that I made it up with little loss in traction given the steep degree of the grade.
Bottom line, these Pathfinder A/T tires have preformed well. I feel safe and secure with the handling, both at highway speeds and off road. The road noise for an A/T tire seems to be quite good, however I have no data to prove it…just my opinion. I’m no tire testing expert, but I do have a lot of road trip miles under my belt and have owned quite a few different sets of tires in my day. Over the past year I have answered a lot of emails and a number of comments/questions below. If you have a question and don’t see that I’ve addressed it below, feel free to drop me a line.