Kicking the Tires
In a perfect world, you’d be able to sell the used vehicles that arrive on your lot without sinking a single dime into fixing or cleaning anything. In the real world, however, you know that in order to get top dollar from a potential buyer, you need to invest in those vehicles. The goal is make them as appealing as possible to potential buyers.
Buffing out irregularities in the paint and shampooing the interior make a vehicle more appealing, but how often do you consider the condition of the tires? Is tread depth all you should look at? Any reason to be concerned with the speed rating? How about OE specs? And is there a possibility that the wrong tires could kill a sale?
Peter James Gregory, President of Atlas Tire Wholesale, has a thorough understanding of the tire market and keen insight into how proper tire selection relates to remarketing.
“If you are remarketing preowned vehicles, a high volume of vehicles built in 2006 or t lots,” Gregory explains. “These are 21st century vehicles, vastly different from vehicles manufactured in the 90s.”
Gregory says that over the years, vehicle manufacturers have had to balance consumer demands with government requirements and somehow deliver a vehicle that everyone is happy with. “Consumers want larger vehicle and more content, but then the manufacturer has to deal with fuel economy requirements and consumer demands for better mileage. So somehow the car manufacturer has to juggle all of these demands and produce a vehicle that is going to be wanted by the consumer.”
Better engineering, better tires
Thanks in part to these pressures, today’s vehicles are better engineered than their predecessors, and advancements in technology have dramatically impacted every component found on modern vehicles, including the humble tire.
“Take the Toyota Camry as an example,” Gregory says. “In 1998 the 4-cylinder Camry had 14-inch ‘S’ speed rated tires. By, 2005 it had 15-inch ‘H’ speed rated tires, and by 2008, it received ‘V’ speed rated 16-inch tires. This is not a high-performance vehicle, it’s a family sedan. Yet in 2008 it’s got a ‘V’ speed rated tire capable of 240 km/hr. Does it need that speed rating? Not necessarily. But the speed rating is there for the handling and braking.”
While some consumers, as well as some dealers, may not want to spend the money on a ‘V’ speed rated set of tires, Gregory says that this kind of thinking does not make sense since the vehicle was engineered to ride, handle and brake properly with those tires in mind. “When you change the rating of the tires, you’re undermining the performance of the vehicle,” he adds.
But why would a family sedan, like the Camry, even need ‘V’ speed rated tires? “The braking and suspension systems have become more sophisticated, and the tire is now a very important component of the suspension and braking system,” Gregory explains.
The components that go into the making of tires have also changed. “Goodyear is now using Kevlar in their tires,” Gregory says. “That’s the material they make bulletproof vests out of. The rubber compounds are also very different, and that’s because tires are now called on to last longer, handle better, stop shorter, give improved ride comfort and provide better mileage.”
Better tires, better sales
If you’re remarketing vehicles, you’ll want to make sure that your vehicles have the right tires on them. “If you want to change the tires on a vehicle, it’s very important to stay with the OE specs – the correct size, speed rating and load index,” Gregory says. “All four tires should be the same brand and same tread pattern. If you’re changing from OE tires to something different, please try to stay with the specs. This will ensure that the vehicle performs to the standards set out by the [manufacturer of the vehicle].”
Although the right tires may cost more, Gregory believes that the right tires can help you sell the vehicle. “The consumer comes in and takes your car for a test drive – a very important part of the selling process. If you put low quality tires on the vehicle you will get more noise, poor handling, poor braking and it’s going to be a disappointment to the consumer.
“With the right tires, on the other hand, the consumer will enjoy a better test drive, which in turn will protect your selling price and allow you to get a quicker sale. So for a relatively small investment you can give yourself a better chance of selling the car.”
By investing in the right tires for the vehicle, Gregory also believes you will set yourself apart from the competition because you’ll be able to tell potential consumers that your pre-owned vehicles are refurbished to OE specs, including the tires.