Today the Tysons Auto Spotlight shines on our host – Tom Ivey and Tysons Auto Specialties. Each month we bring you information about an area businessperson who we believe may have something important to offer you. This month is no exception as we look at a very special service you can get through Tysons Auto.

I not only write Tom’s newsletter, I’m a loyal and committed customer. Several months ago I brought my car in for regular servicing. When I picked it up Tom said, “You know, I was looking at the tread on your tires. You may make it through your next vehicle inspection, but you do need to think fairly soon about replacing those tires.

“I’m not sure you know this, but your can order your tires through Tire Rack online (http://www.tirerack.com), have them shipped here and I’ll put them on for you. I recommend you call in your order; they have really helpful and knowledgeable sales people.”

I thanked Tom and left, desiring to get every last bit of tread wear. I would try to hold off awhile.

In late August I was driving home from Front Royal in a heavy rainstorm and noticed my car was not navigating the water-soaked roads very well. I didn’t feel safe. It was time for new tires.

Back at my office, I pulled out the card that Tom had given me with the information needed to order my tires and went to TireRack.com on the web. The same brand and model tire I currently had on the car was easily found, so I noted the price.

Curious, I went back to the home page and just put in the information for my make, model and year of car. The screen filled with many more options at various price points – now I was intimidated. How would I know which one is best for me?

“You know,” I said to myself, “the tire shops around here always are advertising great deals. Maybe it would be good to check them out before diving into this online purchase. What if I get stuck with the wrong tires?”

I began shopping for tires locally. At one store the salesman kind of grunted as I told my story. “What size?”

“245/45R-18” I parroted, looking at Tom’s card.

“Let’s be sure” he grunted and headed out to look at my car.

Upon returning, he confirmed I was right and showed me the replacement tire.

“Would you recommend anything else as being a better tire for me?”

“These are fine, unless you want to go way up or down in your price range.”

Getting my printed quote, I walked out the door still in shock over the $1600+ price tag. “Yikes! Tires sure have gone up in price,” I thought to myself. “I can remember when you could buy tires for…” I cut myself off thinking I was starting to sound like my father.

“I recommend you call them…” Tom’s words came back to me as I drove home from the devastating appointment. I called Tire Rack as soon as I got to the house.

The friendly voice on the other end of the line put me at ease. After he heard my need he said, “OK, then. Let’s get started!”

He asked for the make, model and year of my car. I also told him about the tires I was currently running on the car – the brand, model and size.

“If you want to replace with the same exact tire, we’ve got a great deal. Four tires will run you $XXX.XX plus shipping. Where do you want the tires sent?”

“Tysons Auto Specialties,” I replied.

“Ah! Tysons Auto Specialties on Tyco Road in Vienna, Virginia. Got all the information right here. Your shipping will run around $50 for the four tires; I’ll give you an exact amount when we finish writing this up.”

“Before we do that, let me ask you – is this the right tire for me to buy?”

“Let’s talk about your driving habits and what kind of ride you are looking for.”

We talked about road conditions – ice, snow, rain, how much driving I do, my desire for a softer riding tire but still high performance and other things. I also mentioned seeing a certain model advertised at a dealership that was also listed on their site.

“Well, that particular tire will cost you a few dollars more but I really think it is a much better choice for you. It will give you a better ride, good traction… it’s one of their newest models. It might be worth the difference.”

We wrote up the order and the tires shipped the same day. Tire Rack didn’t have the particular tires I wanted in their Delaware location, so they shipped out of Connecticut, arriving two days later. (Sometimes with a Delaware order, tires will arrive the next day.)

Driving away from Tysons Auto with my new tires three days later, I could immediately tell the difference in handling and ride. The agent’s recommendation was spot-on. I had forgotten how much difference tires could make in the ride of a car. A road trip to Michigan, portions of which were in heavy rain, further confirmed that these tires could also handle extreme conditions.

Perhaps I could have found a helpful sales person around here to provide the level of customer service I wanted. Who knows? But the real winner here was my bank account!

From that simple phone call, I found just the right tires I needed for the car and had them delivered, mounted and balanced for a little more than 60 percent of the prices quoted locally.

But here’s the rest of the story – the prices quoted locally were for the cheaper tire! I spent about $25 more per tire and still ended up with that kind of savings.

Now, this is the way to buy tires.

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