A flat tire helped me to discover that replacing tires on Toyota Highlanders is an expensive proposition

This is the ratchet that went into our tire

This is the ratchet that went into our tire

During the week that I was in Dallas, my wife was driving the kids home and got a flat tire somewhere between Princeton and our house. She didn’t know what it was, but last week when I took it to my local Toyota dealership’s servicing department, they and I were both shocked to find it was a large ratchet tool. They were so amazed, they gave it back to me to keep. You can see a picture of it in my hand on the right. Maybe someone was doing some auto repair, and lost this on the road at some point.

I asked Toyota if they could patch the tire, but they said they couldn’t. Furthermore, they stated all four tires were in bad shape and should be replaced. All four tires? The car is less than two years old, and we’ve accumulated only 42K miles on these tires. Depending on the variables, I would expect tires to last at least 50-60K miles. This is highly questionable. I’m sure Toyota is more than willing to sell me unneccessary services and parts, and that includes overpriced tires, but I asked for an initial quote.

Oh geez, that’s when I got my second shock of the day. The 2008 Highlander Limited originally comes standard with Toyo Open Country P245/55 R19 light truck tires. Fantastically expensive, four new tires would run me $1178. The only other option are Bridgestone Dueler H/T 400’s that will cost about $868. It’s not just the cost that’s shocking — these are the only two options, albeit expensive ones. In the past, I could  go to any tire shop and get a reasonable and comparable model. It turns out that nowadays, you’re going to find more cars/trucks with odd-sized tires that are not carried by many shops.

I went online, and there are numerous complaints from current Highlander owners that you are locked into these limited choices that aren’t readily available at Toyota or Firestone locations. Oh yeah, that’s right. Toyota doesn’t even stock the Toyo tires, and has to special order them. Furthermore, Highlander owners complained that both Toyo and Bridgestone tires will last you 40K miles or less, and you’ll see uneven wear-and-tear. Again, these are my options?

Here’s the next surprise. The Highlander comes with a fantastic feature where a sensor detects a low tire pressure. Nice feature, right? I knew that, and sounded good to me, nor did I have to pay extra for that. Guess what? Every time you have to change a tire, you have to throw the sensor away, and buy a new one, and pay to install that. We all initially like how sophisticated our cars/trucks are these days, but when you have repairs, there are so many more expensive parts to either replace. It’s incredible. Talk about a double-edged sword.

Although I was nervous about driving around with no spare, I wasn’t going to throw money away without price comparison shopping. I tried a few Toyota and Firestone locations, and my Dad helped me as well. I also decided to limit myself to only two new tires for now, with the intention of replacing two more next month. Spreading that cost out over two months is a little easier to swallow. In the end, I went back to James Toyota where we originally purchased the Highlander. They offered us $460 on two tires plus a free car wash. I made a 7:30am appt on a Wed, waited in their nice customer lounge for about 90 mins, and then got on my way to the office. They also highly recommended that we change all four tires at once, but I wasn’t interested. I’m sure we can squeeze out another few weeks without the world ending.

$460 later, I have half of the new tires that I need, but it will have to be good enough for now. There’s no way we’re going to plunk down nearly a thousand dollars on tires in one month.

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4 Responses to A flat tire helped me to discover that replacing tires on Toyota Highlanders is an expensive proposition

  1. Ajo says:

    Joel, did you check out tirerack.com?

  2. Joel says:


    I checked out tirerack.com. The prices weren’t much better than what my original Toyota dealership was offering, and the places nearby that I’d pick up the tires and get them installed at looked shady. I didn’t see a lot of added value.

  3. Pingback: Tales From The Ipe! » Blog Archiv » Flat tire #3 for the year

  4. Pingback: Tales From The Ipe! » Blog Archiv » Nov 20th ’10 — 4th flat tire this year

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