Alignment and Tread Depth Warranty at Costco

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by tmorrowus, May 14, 2010.

  1. tmorrowus

    tmorrowus Member

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    I'm getting conflicting info about just what my tire warranty covers. I had a tire blow out on the highway and need replacement. I had bought the Michelin Hydroedge at Costco for my 2004 Prius, and the four HydroEdges had about 50k miles out of the 90k warranty.

    The middle tire depth indicators shows 4mm or more depth remaining on all the tires. However the side indicators (about an inch from the edge of the tires) have only 1mm or in some cases 0mm depth left.

    Michelin's warranty doesn't specify which tread depth indicators they are referring to, and Costco is taking advantage of this to say that my tires were fully worn and therefore no longer guaranteed, because the side depth gauges were exceeded. But I would argue that because I still have a solid 4mm in the central depth gauges, that my tires still have much of their original life left.

    Compounding this is that even though I get my tires aligned every 5-10k miles and rotated every 5k, I'm still getting very slight uneven wear where some sides are wearing more than other sides, and all sides are wearing more than the centers. I inflate my tires to 42/40 instead of the factory recommended 35, so if anything I should be getting the opposite problem of centers wearing out first, but as we all know there's something weird about this car that makes inflating to higher pressures necessary. Costco was claiming that invalid alignment was another reason why they could not honor the tire warranty.

    When I tell this to my aligners (Wheelworks then the Toyota Dealership), they tell me that the alignment is fine and that even though some of the nonadjustables measurements have started to exceed their specs, it's all very normal and nothing to spend money fixing.

    I understand that Costco and Michelin are motivated to deny valid warranty claims, but what annoys me is there's nowhere that I can find info on just how the warranty should be applied. In particular:


    • Is the tire depth warranty based on the indicator that shows the most wear on a tire or the indicator that shows the least? The law that you can't drive without a certain depth is based on the least, but it sounds like the tire warranties are based on the indicator that shows the most wear.
    • What exactly constitutes a tire depth indicator? There are various ridges near the sides of my tire that might or might not be indicators. And once indicators have worn off, how can a consumer know there was an indicator there that worn off without just trusting the tire shop that there was one there before?
    • If the side depth indicators are warranty-actionable, and the warranty is based on the indicator showing the most wear, and there's still depth on all side indicators to support a warranty claim, can they still deny the warranty on the basis that one side is more worn than the other indicating alignment problems?
    • Oh and one more thing, do I need to remain a member of Costco to get service on tires I bought there? I've gotten conflicting answers to this question.

    In the end the advantage of buying at Costco is that costco at least pretends to care about not being unfair, so they will tend to respond to consumer pressure. I am going to be writing letters to them to try and get their tire shop to live up to the standards of their other business.
     
  2. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    You've raised excellent questions about the tire tread wear warranty. I believe it is customary practice for the tire shop to look at the most worn part of the tread when determining tread depth. Unless the tire tread is worn evenly across the entire surface, it is possible for a tread wear warranty claim to be denied as was your experience.

    BTW, I have found that America's Tire and Discount Tire stores are very generous when it comes to offering pro-rated credit in situations like yours where a tire has blown and needs to be replaced, or where the tires have worn out before the tread wear warranty is done. My guess is that this credit is offered at the retailer's expense since they are going beyond the strict letter of the tire manufacturer's warranty.

    Good luck with your letter-writing.
     
  3. bedrock8x

    bedrock8x Senior Member

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    Tires has three rows of wear indicator, one in the middle and two on the edges.
    If more than two rows down to the indicator, the tire is illegal to be used.
    Basically your tire is worn out and the road hazard warranty has expired.
    However you may claim the mileage warranty on the tire if you have the mileage warranty card from Michelin. I have never got such some mileage warranty card from Costco from any tire brand.
     
  4. tmorrowus

    tmorrowus Member

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    The more I think about this, the more the situation is ridiculous: For the purposes of the road hazard warranty costco is claiming that my tires are essentially fully worn because of the sides being gone. But for the purposes of the mileage warranty they will surely claim that the tires are not worn down because of the 4mm in the middle. Well they can't have it both ways; I think I need to figure out how to get them to either cover the tire I replaced under road hazard, or to get them to replace the remaining tires for free under the mileage warranty.
     
  5. bedrock8x

    bedrock8x Senior Member

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    You have one bar at 0mm and one at 4mm, the average is 2mm, the bar is 1.6mm so you only have 0.4mm of usable tread left. So the prorated refund for the tire is minimum, ~5% or $5-$6.
    However you can insist that you want to have all four tires replace at the some time due to road hazard encounter and feel unsafe with the rest of the tires, then demanded that mileage of the other tires be compensated. As above if the treads of the other tires are uneven like the bad one, you will get very little back.

     
  6. JimN

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    AFAIK there isn't a factory recommended tp for Michelin tires. Since you are still riding on the edges why wasn't the pressure increased?

    My only suggestion is to file a breach of warranty complaint with your state or county consumer affairs office or small claims court.
     
  7. tmorrowus

    tmorrowus Member

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    No, on each tire I have two central grooves at 4mm above the 2mm wear indicator on each tire for a total depth of 6mm. Assuming original usable depth was 10mm this means I'm entitled to 40% (4mm/10mm) back.

    I also have some things that may or may not be 2mm wear indicators on the shoulders (sides) of the tires which are at 0mm (minimum, actually most are at 1mm), for a total depth of about 2mm.
     
  8. tmorrowus

    tmorrowus Member

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    That's another tale of woe. I try and tell Costco to inflate my tires to 42/40 but Costco always says their computers say that Toyota says 35 so that's all they feel safe doing. I've tried lots of different approaches to getting Costco to put more air in the tires, including showing them the edge tire wear, making up my own stickers for the car door, and filing complaints, but nothing will convince them. I finally just gave up and bought my own inflator so I can get the pressure back up after a Costco Rotation.
     
  9. sl7vk

    sl7vk Member

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    Dude... You got 50k out of a tire. I've never gotten the warrantied millage out of any tire... any brand... ever...

    The closest I've ever gotten is with Michelin's....
    Chalk this one up as a good time to get new tires...
     
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