Rent-To-Own Car Tires Become Popular, Are A Terrible Idea

Having to get new tires is annoying. They’re not cheap and you usually have to buy four of ‘em at once. If you don’t have a few hundred dollars at hand or available on your credit card, what do you do? A growing number of Americans in that predicament are turning to rent-to-own tire stores, where they pay overinflated prices on consumer-unfriendly terms.

According to the LA Times, many of the businesses now hawking tire-rental contracts began as shops that offered low monthly payments on flashy rims for vehicles. There’s a difference, though: if someone comes and repos your spinning rims, you can still drive to work. Like many contracts in the alternative-finance industry (think payday loans and buy-here-pay-here car dealers) they are strict, and the penalties are brutal.

Here’s one copy of a contract provided to the LA Times from a tire-rental outfit called Rent ‘N’ Roll. The North Carolina couple happened to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy a few months after they got the badly-needed tires, but couldn’t get the debt discharged. They had to pay up or give them back.

You could save some money by getting used tires instead, but even regulated used-tire sales can be a gamble. Our hard-driving siblings over at Consumer Reports say that they could be dangerous in a variety of ways: hidden damage, aged rubber, and an unknown history.

High prices are driving more motorists to rent tires [Los Angeles Times] (Thanks, Wayne!)