Filed Under:

Why More People Are Renting Tires

Play associated audio

"Oh, I checked every place in town, and they were outrageous," Shannon Kelly said. "It would be anywhere from four to five hundred, and I just don't have that right now."

Kelly had just walked into Rent N Roll, a rent-to-own tire store in Ocala, Florida. She was looking to rent a set of tires for her truck. Tire rental stores like this one have been around for a while, but until recently, most of their customers rented fancy rims. These days, it's becoming more common for the stores to rent simple tires to people who don't have the cash to buy tires outright.

Customers like Kelly can walk out of the store with a new set of tires for about $30 — and a promise to make lots more payments in the future. In the long run, some renters wind up paying twice as much for their tires as they would have paid if they'd bought them outright.

Lots of factors have driven more people to rent tires. Tighter credit means fewer people using credit cards to buy tires. Stagnant wages and high unemployment make hard for many people to come up with enough cash to buy new tires. The price of rubber went up a while ago.

And, in 2009, the U.S. imposed a tariff on Chinese tires as part of a trade fight. That drove up the price not only of imported Chinese tires, but also of other tires, which no longer had to compete with the cheap Chinese imports. By the time the tariff was removed last October, the price of imported tires had risen roughly 40 percent. And that rippled all through the tire market.

Even if tire prices start to come back down, the tire rental business isn't going anywhere.

"I understand that I'll probably end up paying a lot," says Lyn Warren, a manager at McDonald's, who just signed up to rent brand new tires for his 2000 Honda. "But right now, I need the tires."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Baskets' Takes Zach Galifianakis From French Clown School To The Rodeo Ring

The comic, who plays a rodeo clown in his new FX comedy series, says he is "not creeped out by clowns." Galifianakis is also the creator of the Emmy Award-winning web comedy series Between Two Ferns.
NPR

The Shocking Truth About America's Ethanol Law: It Doesn't Matter (For Now)

Ted Cruz doesn't like the law that requires the use of ethanol in gasoline. So what would happen if it was abolished? The surprising answer: not much, probably.
NPR

How Hillary Clinton Is Actually Winning In N.H., Even Though She Lost Big

Thanks to the way Democrats pick their nominees — and despite her whopping 20-plus-point loss to Bernie Sanders — Clinton looks like she might wind up with the most delegates out of New Hampshire.
NPR

Twitter Tries A New Kind Of Timeline By Predicting What May Interest You

Twitter has struggled to attract new users. Its latest effort at rejuvenation is a new kind of timeline that predicts which older posts you might not want to miss and displays them on top.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.