The Los Angeles Times is reporting that America's tire rental business is growing. Companies that previously specialized in rent-to-own wheels are now shifting their business to provide low-income drivers with rent-to-own tires. Customers can pay as little as $14 per month for new rubber, but may wind up paying as much as four times the retail price by the time all's said and done. While the first rent-to-own wheel and tire dealer surfaced in the mid '90s, the business has been expanding.

Part of the issue is that tire prices have increased dramatically in recent years – according to the story, trade publication Modern Tire Dealer says that the average price of a passenger car tire increased some 57 percent between 2006 and 2012. The boom in business is also being attributed to statistics that say that average household income has fallen by more than five percent since 2009, and the number of individuals with severely damaged credit has jumped to 35 percent since then. Rent-to-own businesses often don't require a credit check, ask for relatively small down payments and allow customers to return merchandise at any time without penalty. All told, the rent-to-own market in the US is an $8.5 billion per year business, and while tires make up a tiny slice of that total figure, the business is growing.

Meanwhile, customers who miss payments can face aggressive lenders. Since the rent-to-own businesses technically own the property until the last payment is made, some states place failure to pay on the same level as theft, which can lead to police involvement. As The Los Angeles Times reports, RimTyme, which operates in North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, makes as many as three repossessions per week.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 58 Comments
      LynxFX
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wonder if you could rent a set of tires, take it to the track, then return them?
        FJPilot
        • 1 Year Ago
        @LynxFX
        Lol!! That was my first thought after reading the article!
        Dvanos
        • 1 Year Ago
        @LynxFX
        Haha good one, they wouldn't be in business if that was the way it works. Basically it's financing tires and rims, not sure where the "rent a tire" term came from which is misleading. This business feeds off low income souls in the projects who need to rim up there chargers and 300c's. Financing something for 4x the price is financial suicide.
      tt6368
      • 1 Year Ago
      what's next, gas bill financing ? When I was young my mom told me: "only buy things you can afford" Best advice ever.
        Bassracerx
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tt6368
        if you have to haul your kids around what would you rather do pay a couple houndred bucks for somones take-offs and possibly risk your familys life? or spend hundreds of dollars for off brand tires you will hate that wont last or make payments on some good rubber that will last a long time and protect your family? after selling tires at pepboys i know how expensive even the offbrand tires are and who wants to pay 800 dollars for crap anyways?
          icemilkcoffee
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bassracerx
          Even the cheapest off brand tire would not be a risk to your familys life. Anyways,if you had to haul your kids around, I suggest you drive a sensible 2002 Toyota Corolla with 14 inch tires. That way you could afford to fill gas and replace tires without financing.
        S.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tt6368
        You can even crowd-source your car now :D
      Anonymous Howard
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let's say your average touring tire is $150 per and lasts 3 years when driven 15,000 miles per year. All they would need to do is put away $0.55 per day or $3.70 per week or $$16.67 per month to cover the next set of new tires. Plan ahead and you'll be fine. Cut that cellphone and cable bill while you're at it too.
      Basil Exposition
      • 1 Year Ago
      Take that money and buy a bus pass.
      oRenj9
      • 1 Year Ago
      Taking advantage of the less fortunate is a great way to make money. You get to charge a significant premium for your product while the finance company charges interest rates that would make Visa cringe.
        TrueDat
        • 1 Year Ago
        @oRenj9
        if people would stop using these programs, they wouldn't be "less fortunate". i grew up poor.. my parents didn't own a dollar to their name by the time i was 10. they both had full time jobs, but could barely pay the bills because they managed their money so poorly in their youth. they piled up debt before they had kids simply so they could have cool stuff. as a consequence, me and my brothers were far less fortunate.. ALL because of my parents failure to properly manage their $70,000 a year in 1980... there is still a lot of that going on today. save your money.. pay cash for stuff like this. stop using credit to pay for TV's and watches and other stupid ****.
      Mark_H
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wonder how much of the increase in tire prices is due to our love of ever larger tires. 19'' vs. 16'' for example.
      Julius
      • 1 Year Ago
      I fail to see how people think a rent-to-own scheme for a consumable item is a good thing.
        Dean
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Julius
        It's simple, really. Poor people can't afford stuff in one shot, the low monthly payment is all that they see. They don't see the fact that after it's all said, and done, they've paid a couple more times more than they would have if they just bought it straight out.
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      Between 2006 and 2013, the tire size of an average Camry went from a 14 or 15 inch to a 17 or 18 inch. For absolutely no good reason I might add.
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      And automakers wonder why struggling-but-educated young people aren't too interested in jumping into the razor-and-blades world of automobile ownership.
      KingNine
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you can't afford tires then you probably shouldn't be driving in the first place... All I can think of are the things you probably can't afford if you can only afford renting tires, such as car insurance.
        oRenj9
        • 1 Year Ago
        @KingNine
        In America, there just aren't realistic alternatives to driving in most places. Any place with decent public transportation or the ability to realistically bike everywhere is too damn expensive to live in.
          Richard
          • 1 Year Ago
          @oRenj9
          You can still buy a 3 bedroom house in the urban core of Philadelphia for well under $100k. Yes it may need some work and yes your neighbors may be missing some teeth but it is quite bikeable, and probably nicer than neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx that cost 4x as much.
      TooManyCars
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow.. This is like way out there in nutjob world almost as bad as 97month loans on cars!
        wilkegm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TooManyCars
        Nothing beats the "Problem Solver" from Western Skys Lending http://www.debt.org/2013/02/25/western-sky-predatory-lending/
      Spies1
      • 1 Year Ago
      LOL, Welcome to the "Hope and Change" in America.
        owen brown
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spies1
        lemme guess,It's Obama's fault?
          Shiftright
          • 1 Year Ago
          @owen brown
          I got a flat today and I'm pretty sure it's his fault. Some sort of conspiracy I think.
        reattadudes
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spies1
        actually, this is a classic example of republican's alleged "free market" principles at work. get government regulations out of the way, have confusing contracts, charge usurious interest rates, and leave the car on the ground when they miss a payment. its amazing Bain Capital didn't buy "RimTyme".
          ngiotta
          • 1 Year Ago
          @reattadudes
          How pig-headed everyone is. To point the finger at a certain party is to demonstrate exactly what the problem has been all along: the 2 party system. Liberals AND Conservatives are the problem-- it's not one or the other. Somewhere in between taxing the bejeezus out of working folks to pay for those that don't work and taking advantage of the poor to get richer... that's where we need to be. The country is overwhelmingly moderate. Vote Libertarian, you'll thank me later.
          AngeloD
          • 1 Year Ago
          @reattadudes
          @reattadudes B.S. What regulatory scheme did the Republican's abolish that resulted in rent to own tire stores? You don't think maybe Obama's mismanagement of the economy resulting in no real increase in employment, falling wages, skyrocketing living costs, might have anything to do with people not being able to afford tires for their car? Food stamp enrollment has skyrocketred under Obama as well. You'd think Obama would have a clue as to how hard his incompetence is making the lives of low income Americans what with his illegally spying on every phone conversation in America, criminal misuse of the IRS, etc.
          wilkegm
          • 1 Year Ago
          @reattadudes
          Free market isn't the problem- the problem is that GenX and younger Americans are largely financially illiterate. Sorry, but 17 weeks of consumer economics (if they're lucky) doesn't cut it. Combine that with a mind numbing sense of entitlement... It doen't become a real problem until vote-grabbing politicians bail out these poor slobs with my tax money.
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