Archive for January, 2008

cars: purchasing tires

The road recently implanted a nail in one of my tires, and the tire was sufficiently worn that it wasn’t repairable. After 40k miles, it’s not unexpected. So time for a new set of tires. Option A is to visit my neighborhood tire store and see what they have. Option B is to see what I can find on the net. Of course, the shipping cost for a set of 4 tires from a net supplier would be prohibitive. And also would be the trouble finding someone to mount them.

But I found the Tire Rack. There are four things that I was pleasantly surprised by.

First, they have lots of review data performed by themselves and comments/ratings from customers. This info is very helpful. You can see how tires are rated on a number of criteria. That helps you balance criteria for what is important for you (i.e., snow/ice performance vs. road noise vs. tread wear). Unless you have a lot of knowledge of tires, I found this to be invaluable in helping me make a purchase choice. They have a really good database of automobile info, so just select your car and they will tell you exactly what the OEM tire is, and list the other tires that match that size. You can see how the tires are ranked for each category (based on ratings, not sales popularity).

Second, they have a lot of articles on general information in the Tech Center area. Everything from air pressure principles to a vibration diagnosis flowchart. They are concise and understandable. It’s really good education. Even if you don’t buy tires from Tire Rack, read these articles.

Third, the shipping cost was way less than I thought it was. For my 4 tires, there were shipped via FedEx (not overnight) at a cost of $40. They arrived in 3 days. I had them delivered to my house. Even with the shipping cost included, I saved $130 on the set versus buying them from the local store. They didn’t arrive in a box, just bundled together with a strap and a shipping label affixed right to the tread.

Fourth, the local tire store was happy to install the tires I ordered via the net. They have a usual fee of $25 per tire for mounting, balancing, valve stem, disposal, etc. That’s twice the charge as if I had bought the tires from them ($12.50), and they also didn’t include lifetime rotation/balance. I just put the new tires in the back of my car, and drove it to the store, and asked them to do the work. The tires I got are asymmetric (there is a particular side that needs to face out), and the installer at the tire shop mounted one of them backwards, so I had to ask them to correct that, which they recognized as a mistake and corrected.

All in all, making a tire purchase on the net, doing it in an informed way, and having the installation performed locally went better than I thought. I’ll do this again next time.

cool stuff that doesn't cost much marcelk 26 Jan 2008 6 Comments

tech: comparing the popularity of programming languages

A group has put together a list of programming languages based relative popularity, which they are calling the Programming Community Index. It’s interesting, but of course take it with the usual grain of salt. Even take the definition of “popularity” with a grain of salt. But it should get you thinking a bit.

tech tips &things i wish i knew before working marcelk 23 Jan 2008 No Comments

cars: discounts on authorized parts from the dealer

I was recently doing some minor repairs on both my cars, a Honda and an Acura. It always seems like the parts from the dealer are priced extraordinarily high. But I’m also reluctant to get aftermarket parts for everything, sometimes you need the real manufacturer part.

So if the Internet is so great for finding everything at a great price, does it apply to automobile dealer parts? In this case, I found two places that do. They are Majestic Honda and Acura Carland. I have successfully gotten authentic dealer parts from both at about a 30% discount from the MSRP. I also noticed that my local dealer is a bit above the MSRP, so it is an even better deal for me. One appears to be based in Rhode Island and the other in Georgia, so I don’t know if they are related to each other.

Both offer exploded diagram pictures for each part category, so even though the pictures are grainy you can generally find what you are looking for. Yes, there is a significant shipping charge, but it will still be less than the local dealer unless you’re getting something small.

I’m not affiliated with these folks, but did want to let others know about them and that I had a good experience. I plan on using them again next time I need dealer parts.

cool stuff that doesn't cost much marcelk 10 Jan 2008 1 Comment