If you need to have your tires replaced, balanced or rotated, your only option used to be visiting a tire shop. Thanks to new mobile tire services, these companies will now come to you at your home or workplace, take payment over the phone or via the internet, and offer these services at prices competitive with any traditional tire retailer.
Here are example mobile tire service companies and sample rates. Most of the companies operate in only a handful of places.
|Service Fee||Mount & Balance Per Tire||Tire Repair|
Mobile tire service is relatively new in the retail automotive service industry. It offers several advantages, but the biggest one is a huge savings in time for you. Instead of leaving work, going to a tire store, being told that although you have a tire service appointment your car’s turn on the lift is “later today,” you have the tire service come to you. No hassles, no waiting.
Car Talk evolved from two guys who added a heart to a business with a bad reputation. Mobile tire service stems from the fact that none of us have any time anymore. Before the pandemic, we were all too busy to stop working to deal with a flat or to get new tires. In today’s new normal, nobody wants to be sitting around inside an enclosed space, reading an August 2012 copy of Fleet Manager Monthly with a dozen complete strangers.
Surprisingly, prices for mobile tire service are very close to what you’d pay at a brick and mortar tire shop and can start around $40 depending on the service you need.
It generally costs $40 to $60 for a mobile tire service to fix a flat tire or to mount new tires. But keep in mind that some companies may add service fees, especially if you’re outside their standard service area. And certainly $40 to $60 does not include the cost of a new tire if that’s what is needed.
If you have a Lamborghini Murciélago your prices may be a bit higher. Or maybe not. Boston Mobile Tire has serviced many exotic cars for customers. The example shown in the company’s promotional video is a Ferrari.
Here’s the tire repair price chart again, with some explanation. The prices we researched are based on a 2017 Toyota RAV4 XLE. We chose that vehicle because it was the top-selling, non-commercial vehicle in the United States three years ago, so we expect this to be representative of what you can expect to pay for mobile tire repair on a typical car.
|Service Fee||Mount & Balance Per Tire||Tire Repair|
When we set out to create this price matrix we had other categories. For example, we asked the installers to give us a price for “just balancing.” It turns out that almost all companies price that service the same as “mount and balance.” Similarly, we asked for “seasonal dismount and mounting of tires.” Again, the prices were all turning out to be the same as mount and balance. You get the picture. If they are going to touch the tire, plan on paying for “mount and balance.” We also asked about “tire rotation.” Again, plan to pay the same fee as mount and balance times four.
One thing we did notice is that some mobile tire service companies have a standard added service charge to come to your location. Others don’t. If you are comparing prices for mobile tire service, be sure you note that difference.
Our takeaway from the price analysis we conducted is that the average price to have a flat tire repaired by a mobile tire service is between $40 and $145.
The idea behind mobile tire service is that when you need tire service of any kind the shop comes to you. For mobile tire installers, their van is their shop. Inside are all the modern tools found inside of a good tire store.
The two major tools are the machine that mounts and dismounts tires from the rim and the balancing machine. The type of machine the installers use varies by retailer. Boston Mobile Tire uses a machine that helps the installer lift the tire onto the machine, and then also uses rollers to mount and dismount the tire without ever touching the rim of the wheel, avoiding the kind of scratches and damage that used to take place on these machines.
The second piece of equipment is, a high-speed balancing machine uses optical technology to show the technician the exact location of the needed balancing weights and the weight which should be used. This piece of equipment alone is what kept mobile tire service from being a thing before now. Balancers used to have to be mounted to a solid floor to work properly. Now, using optical technology that’s easy to recalibrate, balancers can be mounted inside a van.
Compressed air is also what made mobile mounting and balancing an impossibility until recently. Boston Mobile Tires van uses both a mobile compressor and a generator. The compressor is really only there to fill the tires, though. In a tire shop or a commercial mobile tire operation, the installer has to have a gigantic air compressor to run air tools. Now, shops like Boston Mobile Tire use a cordless, rechargeable impact gun to remove wheel nuts.
Mobile tire service companies now cover much of the United States. We found mobile tire service companies at all four corners of the map as well as the dead center of America. In fact, it looked to us like Kansas had the most coverage of any state. Here is a quick rundown of some of the companies we researched and some of the states in which they offer coverage:
Two of us at Car Talk have used Boston Mobile Tire for mount and balance services. We found the company on Facebook, made an appointment by email and then switched to text to communicate with the technical directly. We found it simple to set up an appointment, have the car serviced, and we were sent a very easy to use electronic payment when the work was completed. All of this was in line with the social distancing best practices of today’s “new normal.”
We always felt well informed during the tire service work. During the performance of the work, the technician sent us two videos of the work being done that helped explain the problem, and then showed us how it was resolved. This was done in real-time. We also received an electronic report on our tires’ health electronically before the work was complete. We paid full price for the service and there was no trade of services for mention in this story.
UPDATE: Since we originally ran this story in May -- during the height of the Covid lockdown here in Massachusetts -- we’ve had the opportunity to use Boston Mobile Tire several more times.
We ordered a set of Nokian Nordman studded winter tires for a 2002 BMW 530i, ordered directly through Boston Mobile Tire. We also had a set of currently mounted tires flipped so the blackwalls were out, remounted and balanced on a 2003 Jeep Wrangler X.
The bottom line in our experience is this: There’s absolutely no reason to ever visit a tire shop again if you have a mobile tire installer near you.
Our experience with Boston Mobile Tire was interesting. One of the tires on our 2003 BMW 5 Series was in need of replacement. With Boston Mobile Tire, you have a couple of options: You can buy the tire directly through them, in which case, they order through their tire wholesaler. Or, for the same price, you can order the tire yourself through Tire Rack and have it shipped either to your address, or to Boston Mobile Tire’s address if you live in an area where a stack of tires outside your front door wouldn’t be safe, where they’ll load the tires onto the van and bring them along to your location.
When you order through Tire Rack, if there’s a mobile tire installer like Boston Mobile Tire in your area, it will come up first in the list as installer, and all you have to do is click their location for the tires to be shipped directly. After the service, you can leave a review for the installer on Tire Rack, which helps others find the service.
Boston Mobile Tire has a 5-Star rating on Google. Here’s what one reviewer, Stephanie F., said about the experience: “Best tire exchange ever! Boston Mobile Tire took care of everything start to finish and made sure I was as happy with my new tires as he was. It was easy and I would recommend Jay and Boston Mobile Tire to everyone!”
Wrench.com does mobile work in addition to just tires. So the ratings we viewed were good but mixed. In fairness, some of the work with less than perfect reviews was more complex than tires. On Yelp, Wrench.com earns a 3.5-Star rating with the majority of reviews being 5-Star. One reviewer, Edward P of Seattle wrote,* “Did factory service on 2016 Range Rover. Showed up on time, professional, finished early!! Kids hopped in the car and off to soccer.“*
Kansas City-based Zohr.com had the most impressive ratings. With 158 Google reviews, and an overall score of 4.9, Zohr has solid credentials. Here’s what Anthony R., a Google Local Guide, wrote about Zohr, “Zohr was the easiest tire purchasing and swapping experience I've ever had. Tire pricing was right in line with Tire Rack. The scheduling process was a breeze, and the Zohr team was easy to communicate with. So much easier than leaving my car at a tire shop all day.”
Bass & Meineke Complete Auto Care earns a solid 4.3-Star rating on Google Reviews with nearly all of the most recent reviews being 5-Stars.
My Tire Guys Has a perfect 5-Star Google Review rating with 48 Reviews.
Mobile tire service is entering the mainstream. In addition to the list of companies we provided above we found many local shops that serve a limited area of one city or one region. This is a part of vehicle ownership we are pleased to see expanding. The next time you need new tires, tire service, tire repair, or any tire-related services why not give mobile tire service a try? Our conclusion from the research we did on mobile tire customer satisfaction is that most customers are thrilled with the experience.
Online tire prices are usually less than in store
Yes. In fact, when Boston Mobile Tire arrived at our location, the first thing the installer did when he got out of the van was check to see if our vehicle had TPMS. Ours didn’t, but if it did, he’d run a test on the sensors, and check to see how old they were. The batteries inside the sensors are good for about ten years, so if they were showing signs of weakness, the installer would recommend replacement.
It’s good to park the car in a flat area where the installer can park the van close by. Especially if you’re having your tires worked on at the office, be sure to park in an area where there’s plenty of room for the van to park next to you, if possible.
If your car has wheel locks, make sure you place the keyed socket in a place where the installer can find it. The cup holder is a good place. The key is a silver socket about an inch long and in diameter.
Yes, with a disposal fee similar to that of a brick-and-mortar retailer.
Yes, within reason. As long as it is safe to work the technician will do the job.
Absolutely. In fact, many mobile tire companies are approved service providers by online tire stores like Tire Rack.
Our list above is a place to get started. We also suggest a browser search with your state and “mobile tire service” in the key word list.
Ordering your tires online vs. the shop will save you money