A recent exposé on unscrupulous tyre sales tactics in South Africa may also reflect the Australian context, at least at certain dealerships, warns Chris Lett, an automotive engineer with tyre businesses in Burleigh Heads and Southport. “If you think a dealership is targeting you as a potential victim for profiteering, get a second opinion,” says Chris.
This article takes a closer look at some of the unethical practices uncovered in the South African investigation with the intention of helping consumers to spot possible upselling tactics they neither want nor need.
Punctures That Can’t be Repaired
Puncture repair is cheap. Buying a new tyre isn’t. The best way to know whether the person who is telling someone a puncture can’t be repaired is being truthful is to know a bit about tyres, says Chris.
“No tyre business should agree to repair a puncture if it’s located on the tyre’s sidewall or shoulder,” says Chris. “The tyre will be unsafe, and the repair won’t last.” Other circumstances in which replacing a punctured tyre is recommended would include it having too little tread or a puncture that is too large for patching. “If a hole in a tyre is around 6mm big, it can’t really be repaired in a safe way, and it’s better to replace the tyre.”
Claims That all Four Tyres Must Match
Whether it’s from ignorance on the salespeople’s part or the less excusable intention of making as much money as possible off a customer, the practice of insisting that all four tyres must be replaced after one has been damaged is questionable. Chris weighs in.
“Four tyres of exactly the same tread pattern and brand will certainly ensure optimum performance,” he says. “Many tyre makers recommend it for this reason, but there’s a distinction between ‘necessary’ and ‘nice.’ It’s certainly necessary for tyres across any one axle to be the same, but it’s not strictly necessary for all four tyres to match unless you’re driving a very specialised vehicle. So, on an ordinary sedan, you might find that you need to replace two tyres instead of one, but replacing all four isn’t a must provided that there’s sufficient tread.”
Branigans Tyres includes wheel balancing in tyre prices, but some workshops might charge extra for balancing. It’s a necessary part of the job of switching tyres, but an additional cost for wheel balancing can make the difference between a good deal and a bad one.
“Fortunately, most workshops will include balancing in the cost of tyres as we do. After all, if someone is buying a tyre, it’s safe to assume that they want it fitted too,” says Chris. “However, it’s a smart idea to ask whether wheel balancing is included in prices you’re quoted just to be on the safe side. If it isn’t, the cost of getting your tyres working for you might spoil what would otherwise have been a reasonably-priced transaction.”
A Hard Sell on Wheel Alignment and Brakes
Chris doesn’t believe that a need for wheel alignment or brake repairs are subject to sales tactics. One either needs them, or one doesn’t, and the evidence is visible on the car’s tyres or brake components. However, he concedes that salespeople eager to reach targets could exaggerate these needs.
“Once again, being an informed consumer protects you,” says Chris. “At Branigans, we always show our clients the reasons for our recommendations. If wheel alignment is bad, it shows on tyre wear. You probably won’t need wheel alignment every time you replace tyres, but if the signs are there, your workshop should be willing to point them out to you.”
“The same goes for brakes. We do repair them, although it’s not part of our core business offering, and you will need an appointment. Our technicians are trained to check brake components, and they’ll point out any wear and tear to the vehicle’s driver. After that, it’s up to him whether he wants to make an appointment with us or go elsewhere for repairs. To us, it’s about safety, rather than sales, and we’ve had some very satisfied customers reporting that we saved them from costly repairs by pointing out wear.”
Steering Clear of Questionable Tyre Sales Tactics: The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Chris says that getting the fairest deals on tyres is about being informed. “If you feel uncomfortable with your customer experience, feel that you’re being pressured, or believe that salespeople are using scare tactics to make you spend more than you should, get a second opinion.”
It’s also worth building relationships. “At Branigans, we pride ourselves in taking care of our customers’ interests. The family business safeguards its reputation for fairness, quality, and open-cards dealings, and it’s one of the main reasons why customers give Branigans their loyalty and refer their friends. Sure, the prices are good too – but it’s quality and integrity that matter most.”
For further information, visit or call Chris and his team at Second Hand Tyres Gold Coast |Branigans Budget Tyres by contacting the Service Centres in Burleigh Heads (07) 5535 2660 or Southport (07) 5591 8633.