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Installing tires at a BMW dealer


Mark Mayo

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Recently I had some tires installed at a BMW dealership. I had purchased the tires at motorcycle superstore at a great price. The dealer had one price for installing tires if you purchased the tires from them and a higher price if you brought the tires in from another vendor. I found this curious and was not happy a bit about it. I feel I'm a good customer at this dealer having purchased two bikes from them and plenty of services over 7-8 years. I called a different dealer and they had no such price differential; same price no matter where you buy the tires .

 

Please let me know your experience about this and comments

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Afternoon Mark

 

I guess it depends on how you look at it.

 

Two local dealers near me (one a BMW & one Harley) won't install ANY tires not bought from them no matter the price so your dealer is at least above them.

 

One of better BMW dealers near me doesn't charge extra to mount & balance tires not bought from them but their price is really quite high so they make lots of $$$$ no matter the tire source. The parts manager there also admits that he can't even buy tires through his wholesaler as cheap as I can buy the same tire over the internet.

 

I mount & balance my own tries so haven't had to shop around for a dealer to install my tires but can see your disappointment in your present dealer.

 

About all I can suggest is to voice your displeasure to your dealer's OWNER & if he/she insists on their current price differential in mounting theirs or yours then take ALL your service elsewise & make the OWNER aware of your new choice to do so. (but then carry through & actually do that)--Never threaten without the willingness to follow through.

 

 

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Another way to look at it is that they offer you a discount on the mount and balance if you get the tires there too. I think this is a fairly common, although not universal, practice. However, a dealer is still probably the most expensive place to buy tires and have them mounted.

 

I buy my tires online - BikeBandit, Revzilla, Amazon, etc. Lower prices, sometimes no tax and usually free shipping. It's fun when a tire shows up on the doorstep...

 

Depending on your mechanical ability, time, and budget, you've got options:

 

1 - find a local independent shop that will do the whole job for you - just strap the tires on and ride over.

2 - remove the wheels and take them to the shop just for mount and balance.

3 - total DIY approach. This is what I do now. I got the Harbor Freight tire changer, Mojo blocks and lever, a wheel balancer (Parnes) and weights, and some rubber lubricant (Ru-glide). After a little practice, I can do the whole job faster than the total time of going to the dealer and waiting - I figure it takes about 3 or 4 DIY tire changes to earn back the cost of my tools. Other benefits - I do it on my schedule, and I take the time to inspect, clean, and lube everything (axle, brake calipers, etc).

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Your dealer's approach is, in my experience, quite common. As already pointed out, some dealers won't even consider installing tires purchased elsewhere. I don't find your experience surprising at all. Where I live now, my independent tech will install tires bought online (or from any source for that matter). He'll even take direct delivery of tires, which his customers have bought, from an online retailer.

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John Ranalletta

How much would Kentucky Fried Chicken charge to fry chickens you brought in? IMO, the dealer should make the decision based on the profit margin built into the flat rate for tire mounting, regardless where the tire was purchased.

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My dealer does not charge more for tires brought in. At least not for me. I am a regular customer. I would not argue if they did charge more. They have their cost. I started doing my own tires a couple of years ago. No Mar equipment. I do not fault anyone who wants to save money nor due I fault a dealer who wants to stay open. I opted to change my own due to the price and convenience. Local shops would not touch my rims and my dealer is not very close.

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I don't bring my discount ground beef to a restaurant and ask the chef to cook it, and then to give me a break on the price of the hamburger to boot. That's just me.

 

Talk to your dealer's manager. Many "regular customers" who bring in parts and use straight tech time are nowhere near as valuable as customers who show up less often, but buy parts and let the techs install. The former usually think they are much more valuable to the dealer than they actually are.

 

-MKL

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scott r1200rt

I buy all my tires from my local dealer, I would not even ask them to put tires bought elsewhere on my bike, just seem wrong to me. I have all my service done there except oil changes, I do myself. I always give them a chance to get any parts or accessories, if they can't get it, then I go elsewhere. In return over the last 6 bikes and 12 years I have been going there, I promise the service I get is always second to none, and to me, it is worth it. They are 8 miles from my house, if they go out of business, now it is 50 miles one way to the next dealer. My 2 cents!!

 

scott

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Been there, done that.

 

Not at all uncommon.

 

You received a lot of good advice in the above posts.

 

I mount and balance my own.

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This morning I rode my butt over to the other coast to have a dealer mount new T-30s to my old RT. I had the discussion about price of tires when I made the appointment, and it largely reflected the above post about internet pricing killing them. So, they set a price which is a happy medium to keep them open and employed, and they make it up to the customers in service. I have no idea if they mount internet tires, but I'm guessing the answer is no.

 

I'm maybe a year away from doing the HF changer/Mojo lever thing, but not really as a cost saving measure (though it helps) but a convenience and pride of work thing. So I guess I will be lost business to the dealerships. Until then, I'm not offended at paying the BMW premium, as long as it is not egregious. Dealers are under a lot of pressure - it can't be easy.

 

That dealer pointed me to a great Amish restaurant, and threw me the keys to a brand new RT to get me there. They scrubbed in the tires on my bike before letting me take it off of their lot. Money well spent, and I will definitely buy my next bike there.

 

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It's great point about keeping some business at the dealer. Important with lower-volume (compared to Honda) manufacturers like BMW - even more so with Moto Guzzi. All part of being a member of the community...

 

In general, I like to do what I can myself - saving money and pride of work are part of it. But also because I enjoy the work, and it increases my confidence in being able to diagnose/repair stuff on the road.

 

With the DIY approach to tires, I can have a fresh set waiting in the garage and change them exactly when I want to - not just when I can take time off work or sacrifice a Saturday. Maybe I'm a geek - but I also think balancing is kind of fun.

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SavannahCapt

I'm hours away from a BMW dealer. I recently changed my front tire myself. When it was time to replace the rear, I decided to take it off and haul it to the local independent tire dealer in our small town. We buy tires for our car and trucks there. They gladly installed the internet tire on the rim and static balanced it. No scratches on the rim. 20 bucks.

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My dealer stopped mounting tires supplied by customer several years ago. I tried to point out that there was a lot of additional service opportunities for them if my bike was in the shop anyway but he wasn't interested in discussing. So, now I get my tires mounted by a local independent shop, I balance them myself, and I replace my brake pads myself. I try to order my BMW parts through my dealer, I want them to be successful and around when I do need them. There were plenty of parts and services that I would have paid them to perform if they were willing to do my tires...

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Panhandle Chuck

Yep, my dealer is the same. I showed them what I could get the tires for and they came down on their price significantly, so I used them.

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Don't they have "corkage fees" at fancy restaurants, when you bring in your snooty vino from home? Same thing.

 

My local (independent) shop charges $15 or so to mount tires purchased at their establishment. It's free if you bring in the wheels without the bike. I never asked about bringing in tires purchase elsewhere, but cripes, they can't give it away. His prices, after figuring in installation and shipping, were always competitive. Cheaper most of the time, actually....

 

As much as I like the internet, I have to say it's not doing much for small local shops. I like to patronize my local shop, because they're there when it counts. If you need a battery/tire/part/whatever asap, you're out of luck if your favorite shop is 500 miles away.

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I like the "corkage fee" analogy (and the KFC one made me laugh out loud, thanks). If you save enough on the wine to cover the fee it makes sense - or if you have such specialized taste that the restaurant doesn't carry what you want. There are some good parallels to motorcycle tires.

 

Just thinking - it's possible that some dealers will not install 3rd-party-sourced tires (or other parts) due to restrictions in their liability insurance.

 

Example, let's say you walk in with a tire with a date code that indicates the tire is 3 years and 8 months old. Should the dealer install that if you only ride 2,000 miles a year? (probably not a common problem for members of a touring forum... but some other people's bikes don't get ridden much).

 

Much as I hate hearing explanations (or excuses) that include the phrase "for liability reasons" - it is a reality for many businesses.

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On pricing, my dealer comes as reasonably close as he can on pricing to the internet sources -- surprisingly so in some cases. I just call up and ask the parts folks what they can do (not twisting arms, just "what's the price?"). I have no problem putting a few extra dollars difference (and it's not many) into his pocket to help him keep the lights on and keep good local people employed.

 

On the mounting price difference, I'm surprised more dealers don't have this policy, and not surprised that some won't even take outside tires.

 

There is a not-ignorable liability risk in mounting tires from sources other than those the dealer can rely upon as supplying "good" tires and backed by their own liability insurance. This "pedigree" also extends to the dealer knowing the tires have been properly stored and handled at his end. Some Internet sources are "good guys," getting fresh rubber from the OE suppliers and taking appropriate care in handling. Some Internet suppliers aren't "good guys," selling seconds and old manufacture-date tires, with little care taken in storage, handling and shipping.

 

Thus, one explanation for a mounting price differential (and for some dealers to choose to not mount any "not bought here" tires) is it represents the dealer's judgment as to what that risk is worth, i.e., what the additional marginal cost to cover that risk may be.

 

Of course, the mounting price differential also may be the result of how the dealer chooses to price both the tires supplied and the mounting services provided (IMO, something that is entirely his/her business). Some make the bulk of their profit on the tire, some on the mounting (the latter in part a result of having to shave the tire profit margin so thin to be anywhere close to competitive with the Internet). Without the tire sale, the dealer may choose to make up the tire profit in the mounting.

 

There are *so* many variables and variations in dealer operating philosophy that: (i) I *expect* different dealers to have different mounting policies and pricing (and respect that to be a business choice, not an attempt to penalize non-local tire purchasers); and (ii) I would not begin to question their choice, both because it is their choice to make, and because if I do not prefer their choice, there are other options available to me.

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one possible liability issue and business reputation issue has to do with granting different prices to different people such as trying to match an internet price. especially if mr. a, who got the good price talks to mr. b, who did not. other attorney's may want to chime in about fair trade practices, but from the reputation standpoint, if i was mr. b, i would be pissed. i would tell everybody i knew what a skunk the dealer was.

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The BMW/Harley dealer in Grand Junction, CO has great prices on tires, it's quite close to internet prices. So I bought tires there and had them mounted, just dropped the bike off. We were on a long road trip and didn't have many tools with us. On and off prices were more than the cost of the tires. My 2 PR3s were $470 with purchase, mount and balance. The independent shop in Montrose wanted $25/ tire to mount and balance their tires with the bike dropped off, I just didn't like the tires they had on offer. Sometimes keeping the dealer in business is extremely costly.

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If the BMW dealers in my area were that reasonable, I'd get tires from them. I go to a tire shop in Phoenix. It's pretty much what he does and he's fast and reasonable.

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The last time I bought tires for my bike at a dealer the purchase price was competitive with internet pricing for the tires I wanted. However they charged me $35/ea for mounting them. That was for me taking the wheels to them in my car. After that episode I started mounting & balancing my own.

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I found that the local Cycle Gear mounts them and disposes of the old tire for ~$20. I remove the wheels at home drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon on my way home from work.

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If you're talking about the folks at Long Beach BMW then you're talking about the lowest prices of any of the dealers. I shop for cheap too. All of them are higher than LB BMW.

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I found that the local Cycle Gear mounts them and disposes of the old tire for ~$20. I remove the wheels at home drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon on my way home from work.

 

Plus 1

 

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I take my bike to a private repair shop that specializes in Beemers. They do work on other bikes, but mainly Beemers. That said, they did mount and balance my last tires I purchased from an online store. They said that if I had purchased them from them instead of elsewhere, they would stand behind the product in case it fails etc. I believe that to be the case, these guys are good. However, the tires I get are good quality and I have yet to have a set go bad. Long story short, as long as I purchase the same tires and they will install them, I am not sure I will change the way I do business but I will price check with them before I purchase on line.

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There is a bit more to the story that will have to go unshared for now. I will work with the dealer to avoid surprises or misimpressions. The dealer seems to agree that a refund to me is due.

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What a dealer charges for tire and to mount and balance them is the reason why I purchased a NoMar Tire Changer about 10 years ago. It has paid for it's self with the dozen plus sets of tires I have changed for bikes of my own. The savings of ordering the tires online plus the labor charges from the dealers adds up. Also several friends have used it every now and then. That adds up to free beer.

 

Alan

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For the past few years I've bought all of my tires at the OP's dealer. The tires themselves are always priced near the internet price and labor is 0.5 hr. for one tire and 1.0 hr. for two - and that's on a ride-in basis. Consequently I have zero incentive to buy tires elsewhere, buy my own tire changing equipment, or find another installer.

 

However, sometimes unless I remind them, they write up an estimate with "retail" prices, and that's what their cashier assumes I plan to pay. A polite mention of past practices promptly takes care of this kind of misunderstanding.

 

In my opinion this is a first class dealership and I would respect whatever their policy is regarding tires bought elsewhere. If the OP's concern is that he was mislead, I'm sure both parties will learn from this and that this dealership will do what it takes to make it right.

 

So now I'm waiting for more details from the OP - hope I haven't totally missed the point.

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Dealer in Pensacola is now offering price match (Amazon, etc.) which I must say is pretty decent. I believe they charge $65 for labor.

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I am late chiming in here, but this is an experience I had with a dealer about 10 years ago.

I purchased a set of tires from them and had them mount them on an R1100RS that I did not buy from them. After a very short period of time, I had a flat in the front tire I believe. At any rate, they replaced it. When I went to get it and asked how much, I was told "no charge" that they would work with the manufacturer to get a credit. Of course, I don't think they got any credit for the labor.

Sadly, that dealer is gone, a victim of the recession, but from this example, I would say that while price is important, it may be be everything.

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Dealer in Pensacola is now offering price match (Amazon, etc.) which I must say is pretty decent. I believe they charge $65 for labor.

 

Well, they will mostly match. They came within $10-$15 per tire as I recall when I brought them my Motorcycle Superstore quote. The upside is they will deal with any tire issues should they arise. Two new PR4 GTs mounted, balanced, etc. for $557. My biggest issue with the Pensacola dealer was reluctance to help unload/load the bike from my truck (needed warranty work done in addition to tires).

 

Ken

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  • 2 weeks later...
On pricing, my dealer comes as reasonably close as he can on pricing to the internet sources -- surprisingly so in some cases. I just call up and ask the parts folks what they can do (not twisting arms, just "what's the price?"). I have no problem putting a few extra dollars difference (and it's not many) into his pocket to help him keep the lights on and keep good local people employed.

 

On the mounting price difference, I'm surprised more dealers don't have this policy, and not surprised that some won't even take outside tires.

 

There is a not-ignorable liability risk in mounting tires from sources other than those the dealer can rely upon as supplying "good" tires and backed by their own liability insurance. This "pedigree" also extends to the dealer knowing the tires have been properly stored and handled at his end. Some Internet sources are "good guys," getting fresh rubber from the OE suppliers and taking appropriate care in handling. Some Internet suppliers aren't "good guys," selling seconds and old manufacture-date tires, with little care taken in storage, handling and shipping.

 

Thus, one explanation for a mounting price differential (and for some dealers to choose to not mount any "not bought here" tires) is it represents the dealer's judgment as to what that risk is worth, i.e., what the additional marginal cost to cover that risk may be.

 

Of course, the mounting price differential also may be the result of how the dealer chooses to price both the tires supplied and the mounting services provided (IMO, something that is entirely his/her business). Some make the bulk of their profit on the tire, some on the mounting (the latter in part a result of having to shave the tire profit margin so thin to be anywhere close to competitive with the Internet). Without the tire sale, the dealer may choose to make up the tire profit in the mounting.

 

There are *so* many variables and variations in dealer operating philosophy that: (i) I *expect* different dealers to have different mounting policies and pricing (and respect that to be a business choice, not an attempt to penalize non-local tire purchasers); and (ii) I would not begin to question their choice, both because it is their choice to make, and because if I do not prefer their choice, there are other options available to me.

 

I totally agree with Mark's post. I always try to support my local dealer and they always work to come as close as possible to internet pricing on parts. But the difference is they are a local shop and as noted have more overhead. Next time you want your oil changed or your valves adjusted try going to that internet tire company. So long as the pricing is fair I always give my local dealer the business. And in addition to my local dealer in Charlotte I have had very good experience with dealers while on the road. They are there for me when I need then and I try to support them. That is just me and my view on how I do business. YMMV

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