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Tire Rack--Anybody else had this problem?

Discussion in 'BMW' started by mike94402, Mar 22, 2017.

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    I purchased 4 replacement run flat tires for my wife’s BMW 335d with 40,000 mile tread wear warranty. After 20,000 miles the front tires were half worn and the rear’s were near bald. I contacted Tire Rack, where I had purchased replacement tires, and they sent out 2 rear replacement tires to their local installer; which I fully paid for pending return. Upon installation it was discovered that the tires I had originally purchased from Tire Rack were not run flats but standard tires. The tires look from the outside exactly the same, Bridgestone RE960 vs RE970’s. There is a big difference in price and you are not supposed to mix non run flats and run flats. I contacted Tire Rack and they would not help. Their customer service would not listen but blamed the problem on me or their installer. With some investigation I learned about DOT numbers and was surprised that the installer does not track the DOT number and only Tire Rack has. Tire Rack is the only one with the DOT number and there seems to be no way to verifying the DOT numbers. They say it is not their mistake but communication with them has been difficult and they don’t seem to have a customer oriented or trustworthy culture. I spoke with the installer and they reviewed the labeling and segregation of the tires received from Tire Rack to prevent switching. They are a small installer and there process seems reliable. Who knows how often this happens but I wanted to share this story with others for ideas or suggestions. Thanks
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    Sooo..... re-stating for clarity's sake, you thought your 1st replacement order (4 tires) were runflats and now you find out from your installer 20k miles later they were/are not runflats. Not knowing that fact when you ordered rear replacements, (2 tires), your 2nd replacement order was for runflats, since that's what you thought you already had - and now you have mis-matched types of tires front & rear.

    One question then is how the first mixup came about - who ordered those 4 tires and by what means? If it was a phone call to TR with you talking to a rep, then it would depend on what happened verbally there. Always the possibility of verbal misunderstanding & miscommunication. Of course, it's a sales rep's job to aid & guide a customer to ensure they're getting what they want and should be getting for their car, especially with their bread & butter of tires.

    I've been dealing with TR for a long time (at least 32 years), I've done a mix of phone orders & web orders, all with no problems, and have found the TR people I've talked with to be just fine - but, it's easy to be so when there's no problem.

    If you did the first order solely through their website without any interaction from TR folks or anyone else, then it could be a simple mistake and error on your part, for whatever reason, although there is the possibility they mixed up the order and shipped you standard tires instead of runflats (referring to the original order might clarify that). The current TR website I think is pretty user friendly to winnow down one's appropriate choices - with correct car yr, model, etc. info selected, it shows stock sizes, available tires, and array of filtering options to narrow choices, including runflat or non-runflat. But, any of that doesn't preclude selecting a tire in error, mistakes are always possible. I'm also referring to their website accessed via computer, as I've never used a mobile device for the TR site or ordered that way; could be the mobile site leaves more room open for user error, I couldn't say.

    If your installer ordered the 1st set or the 2 replacements for you, who knows how things may have gotten mixed up, whether they did an online order or talked to a sales rep.

    Without knowing what info you've found about DOT numbers, I'm not sure you can easily tell anything from them beyond the year of manufacture, and which number week it was manufactured in that year.

    See these:


    The BFG article delineates which numbers are what, it would take a codebook or call to the manufacturer to find out what DOT code digits 5-8 indicate, or if any of those translate to indicating whether a tire is a runflat or not.

    As mentioned in the above articles, DOT numbers aren't hidden, by law they're required to be molded into every tire, although the full number showing the date code will only be on one side. If you get a close look at your tires with a flashlight, you should be able to see them, although obviously if the full numbers were mounted inboard, the only ones that would be easy to see would be on the fronts with the wheels turned to full lock left or right, which would alternatively make the inside forward half or rearward half of a front tire visible. I wouldn't bother unless you're particularly curious to see your tire's week/yr of manufacture.

    Not necessarily the case for other manufacturers, but Bridgestone puts an abbreviation for runflats (RFT) in the tire's name, obviating that particular. Pretty sure the AS = all-season, besides which, the TR website listing says runflat for the RE960 and doesn't for the RE970. Side-by-side, easy enough to see the difference in tread patterns - the 970 has a center rib, the 960 is an open channel, and the tread block patterns in the central and outer sections have different shapes and cuts. Perhaps on a mobile device with a small screen like a cell phone the differences are not easily seen due to the scale. Sometimes these pictures change too, no way for me to know if what's on the TR site now is what you were looking at.


    As for running runflats & non-runflats, I doubt that's a crisis of epic proportions - I would think the reason it's not recommended is because it's better to have tires all with the same performance characteristics at all 4 corners. RFT's have much stiffer sidewalls to bear the weight of the vehicle if a tire is deflated. Since the flexing & compression of the tire's sidewall in essence comprises part of the suspension system, a RFT is going to respond differently over bumps and pavement irregularities (you'd figure grip and tread compound are fairly similar here), a standard tire will soak up bumps a bit more handily, comparatively. A potential worst consequence there could be the rear tires losing grip compared to the fronts from hitting a bump mid-turn, and having an oversteer skid happen. 335d does have massive torque, but it also has (pretty sure) dtc & dsc to help manage detected wheel slippage. Unless your wife has her foot floored, screamin' around turns like a banshee running from a ghostbuster, I'm not sure I'd sweat it too much - that doesn't minimize wanting maximum safety for your spouse, of course. Reasoned, moderated driving on the street, I'd think you don't have much to excessively worry over.

    You mentioned checking with your installer over their labeling and segregation to keep from getting things mixed up - perhaps you could clarify, I'm not clear what labeling & segregating implies they did or didn't do.

    Sorry for the long post, a number of things to clarify there - you need to know how both mixups occurred here, and why.

    The Tire Rack has a pretty strong relationship with the club, they're a major sponsor of many things with the BMWCCA, including being a primary sponsor with the Street Survival program for teen drivers. Maybe there's a chance that relationship could help here. If you can be clear on who all did what so it can be plain what parts of this might fall on you, TR, &/or your installer, then perhaps the club ombudsman might be able to help - since I'm not the ombudsman, I don't know what he can do, but it's at least something to try. Since the fronts are 1/2 worn and however old they are, I'm guessing what could be hoped for would be TR pro-rating your existing fronts, applied towards new front runflats, thereby reducing that replacement cost to get matched tires all around - that may not sound like much, but it's better than nothing, and if you start with lower expectations, any better result gets you less disappointment (with the caveat I don't know the club ombudsman can help or do anything, or if TR would do anything). You can decide whether you want to gamble on the battery longevity of your existing tire sensors (original, I'm guessing), or take on the expense of new ones knowing they shouldn't need replacing then for a few more years.

    On another note, extending your tire life - if you don't mind replacing the rears more frequently (as it has been so far), that's not necessarily a bad route, since it's awhile before you get to replacing the fronts. If you have a staggered setup (different size wheels & tires front & rear), you can't rotate the wheels and tires around to even out wear. Were you to run a square setup, you could do tire rotations (every 5k is probably good) to even out the wear, and be facing 4 tires at a time, with a longer replacement interval for the rears, and obviously something less on the fronts. If you have the same size wheels (as in not only dia. & width, but offset too) & tires now front and rear, consider the rotation route. Other wheels can be had to run a square setup, of course that's an additional expense. Ebay might be a place for someone selling factory wheels the same as what you have, of course you have to have good pics to confirm identical specs (bolt pattern, hub bore, offset, diameter & width). Going with the same size all around does affect the handling balance a bit, it will take out some of the understeer inherent in having the front wheels/tires narrower than the rear - that may or may not be an important consideration depending your priorities - I don't find it all that big a deal, BMW's always used to have the same size wheels & tires @ all 4 corners, and I think the majority of cars still do. However, if your wife likes to enthusiastically partake of all that 335d torque at will with the traction control turned off..... then perhaps a further-reduced propensity for oversteer ain't such a bad thing!

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