Back-to-Back Flat Tires
Recently, I had the unfortunate luck of getting two flat tires during my commute to work on back-to-back mornings. The first morning, I ran over a pothole in the middle lane. Immediately, my tire pressure sensor alerted me of low tire pressure. I came to a stop (luckily in a very wide shoulder on the highway) and I was able to change my front right tire with the spare. I brought the car into a local America’s Tire and they replaced the tire due to irreparable damage to the sidewall.
The very next morning, I was driving along the very same stretch of highway where I got my flat tire the morning prior. I was careful to drive on the right lane to avoid the pothole. However, I was unlucky in that I ended up running over an object in the road and suddenly heard a ‘thump, thump, thump”. I pulled over right away. Strangely, I ended up stuck in the exact same spot I had gotten a flat tire the previous morning. Again, I drove on my spare to the same America’s Tire to get my tire changed out.
This time, I ended up with a U-shaped gash within the tread of the tires. After the America’s Tire technician replaced my tire, he showed me the object that was inside of my tire. It looked like an oddly-shaped piece of pipe that punctured the tire and then got stuck inside of it.
On both days, I had a pretty good experience dealing with America’s Tire. They have a policy of providing free flat tire repairs for anyone, even if you didn’t purchase your tires through them. That works wonderfully if you ever get a minor tire puncture within the tread area in which the tire shop can make a simple repair.
But what about damage to the sidewall or large punctures that cannot be patched/plugged? Well, then you may be forking out the entire cost of the tire, which would have been about $150 for my front tire (first morning) and about $180 for my rear tire (second morning). That would have resulted in costing $330 plus any additional fees for labor to replace the tires.
Typically when I am offered any type of warranty related to cars, I automatically decline. The same goes for Tire Road Hazard Protection; I’ve declined any additional warranty ever offered to me. So why did I come out of the shop with two new tires on my car even though I’ve never purchased a warranty before? That’s because my wife bought the tires on this car and opted for the warranty when it was offered to her. Now before you go and say how much smarter my wife is than I am, let’s look overall at whether or not it’s worth getting Tire Road Hazard Protection before we go and make that conclusion.
What Does Tire Road Hazard Protection Cover?
We know that tire warranties that are already included with the purchase of a tire typically cover the tire under normal wear for a particular treadlife, uniformity of wear, and workmanship of materials. But what does purchasing an additional Tire Road Hazard Protection plan cover?
The main thing that the tire warranty does not cover is any damage to the tire not caused by the tire manufacturer. That means running over anything in the road or hitting potholes will not be covered under the typical warranty. Now, if the damage is a simple puncture, then a local shop can repair it for fairly cheap (about $20-$30). And if you go into a shop like America’s Tire, they will repair it for free.
However, if the damage caused warrants the need to replace the tire, there is no coverage from the tire warranty. You will be forced to fork out the cost of a tire, that is unless you want to drive around on your spare forever (that’s a joke, don’t do that). But if you did purchase the warranty, you will be able to bring the car in and get it replaced, no questions asked. That was my experience with both flat tires as I explained at the beginning of this post.
If you purchased your tire through Tire Rack, for example, there is already an included 2-year Road Hazard Protection included for free. This is nice feature with the flexibility of being able to get the tire replaced at any eligible shop. However, this lasts for only two years, and after that you are on your own.
Below is an example of a Tire Road Hazard Protection Certificate from America’s Tire, which lays out the details for their program.
If you purchase a Road Hazard Protection Warranty through the actual installer, you may have a different coverage time frame. With America’s Tire at this time, they cover three years from the date of purchase or down to 3/32″ of tread. Depending on which installer you go with, this warranty can differ in terms so it’s important to check out the details to see how beneficial the warranty is.
Also keep in mind that if you get your tire replaced under the warranty, you may need to purchase another warranty for the new tire that is installed on your vehicle. The warranty is tied to each tire and therefore if you replace a tire, a new warranty will need to be purchased which will warrant that specific tire.
Factors in Getting Flat Tires
I think it’s important to touch on this subject because this can play a big role in your decision of purchasing a Tire Road Hazard Protection Warranty. I believe that there are three main factors that affect the likelihood of getting a flat:
How Much You Drive: This is simple: the more you drive, the more likely you will get a flat tire.
Kind of Tires You Own: Lower profile tires tend to have a shorter sidewall and a wider tread versus a regular profile tire. Although there is no real difference in the likelihood of getting a puncture (essentially the same contact patch on both types of tires), there is a difference with the potential of a blowout of the tire sidewall. This is because the lower profile tire is not as effective as a regular one in absorbing the impact of hitting something like a pothole.
Where You Drive: If you happen to drive in more industrial areas, there is a higher chance of punctures due to materials dropping off of service vehicles. When I used to work in an industrial area in the Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco, I would regularly get punctures due to screws and nails falling off the back of service vehicles.
Wrap-Up: Is It Worth It?
There are certainly factors in determining whether or not you should consider Tire Road Hazard Protection, however I think it all boils down to one main question: do you have low-profile tires or not? My experience with driving my SUV is an almost non-existent flat tire situation. Meanwhile, my experience with driving a car on low-profile tires is one that at times, rivals the frequency of an oil change.
It goes without saying that if you have the money to spend on the extra protection and you want the peace of mind, then absolutely go for it. However, you should consider the different factors that affect the likelihood of getting a flat tire, as well as the price and terms that come with the warranty.
In the case of our car (which sits on low-profile tires), my wife made an excellent decision on purchasing the Tire Road Hazard Protection for the tires. At the time, I would have likely opted out of the extra protection. But with her paying just over $100 to cover all four tires, it saved me over $300 from these two flat tires alone. So yes, it was certainly worth it and yes, my wife is certainly smarter than me for making that decision.