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Question DetailsAsked on 7/31/2016

Is "Tires for Life" a good deal?

My father bought a "free tires for life" program for his Mercury in 2004. Regular maintenance was done religiously at the dealer where he bought the car and program. and the car runs GREAT! he passed away and my mother is continuing the dealer maintenance as required. She wanted the new tires and was told by the dealership that she has to have a $535.00 Transmission Flush before she can get the tires. it's a 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis, with 92K+ miles on it. is this really needed? Why would it effect her tires?

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Ah - sounds to me like another extended warranty type scam, especially as I bet the free tires are chosen by the company - so undoubtedly the cheapest available, not matching the ones on there now. And a free tire warranty is even less meaningful to most people, because many people do not keep a new car to the point of needing a new set of tires - it is usually used car buyers who end up getting new tires because most good brand new tires last about 50,000 miles and the average person has gotten rid of the car by then unless they commute a lot of miles to work each day - or might get one new set of tires only while they own the car, and the tire plan probably costs about that much or more.


Remember, on the average (though granted you are playing the odds from very good to very poor) warranty plans and extended service palns are such that they pay out, on the average, about half or less the premium in claims - the rest goes to overhead and their profit. Combine that with the fact that the way they make money is by people forgetting ot make claims under the warranty, by denying as many claims as possible, or "upselling" other services like the transmission flush (which unless it has been smoked or or generating metal shavings is pretty useless anyway). So - on the average, assuming you can afford major maintenance if needed, you only get back maybe half the amount you pay out in premiums over the years. Some people get their money back, and if you got a lemon car with a lot of defects extended (OEM) service plans can be a bargain - on our SUV our extended service plan (after original warranty ran out) paid off several times over during its duration, because the vehicle had a LOT of chronic factory defects tht they kept fixing over and over with the identical part - which obviously failed again !


First, I would suspect the "free tires for life" is only good for the life of the original owner - though if it was jointly registered in both their names that should take care of that issue.


Part of the issue might be the "maintaining dealer maintenance" - which might require that the dealer (rather than owner or someone else) do all recommended maintenance - so is a transmission flush SPECIFICALLY, IN WRITING, part of the original regular maintenance interval for that mileage (or less). Not something they say is recommended, or something they come up with NOW that says it is required, but a requirement in the original car warranty or OEM maintenance schedule or contract. However, the courts have long ago held that a car company or dealer cannot require that required maintenance be done at the dealership for warranty and service protection plans to be valid - that is an antitrust violation. you just have to maintain records that you actually had the service done at about the required intervals. AGAIN - anything they say now is irrelevant - if it was not in the free tire contract, or in the original OEM service interval if that was referenced by that free tire contract, what they might say NOW is necessary is meaningless as it was not part of the original contract.


Anyway, this transmission flush requirement to get the free tires sounds to me like an out-and-out scam as transmission service would not affect the tires, other than that if the transmission fails the car don't go so the tires don't turn. I would contact the state consumer fraud division (or city if large city and it has one) and file a complaint - might be able to get the full amount of the "plan" back.


Personally, if it were me (though she probably does not want to spend that much time and involvement in it) I would call the police to the location (while I was there) and ask that the person(s) who said that flush was required first be arrested for what is basically a form of bait and switch fraud. That would get a police report on the record to initiate the consumer fraud charge and put pressure both on the dealer and on the district attorney to prosecute.


I would also, if this a brandname car dealer (though I would bet it is a fly-by-night used car dealer), I would contact the car manufacturer legal division about this - I can't imagine a brandname car company letting a dealer pulling this sort of scam stay a dealer with their brand name.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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