The retail price of tires hinges on a variety of factors, including oil prices, the size of the particular tire and the size of the retailer. Typically, lower oil prices, smaller tires and larger retailers who are able to afford buying their inventory in bulk contribute to lower prices.
Tire manufacturers do not suggest retail prices, allowing retailers to do this themselves. As a result, smaller tire stores that typically pay more for their tires pass on the cost to their customers. There is often a marked disparity in prices for the same tire from one retailer to another.
The size of tires affects the price in that the larger the tire, the more material it takes to make it. The difference in price between a full set of tires for a car with 13-inch wheels versus a full set for a vehicle with 17-inch wheels is considerable.
Two-thirds of the materials used to manufacture tires come from petroleum, making the price of oil a key factor in the cost of tires. However, tire prices are not always in keeping with the current cost of crude oil, as it tends to take significant time before the price fluctuations pass to suppliers and then to customers.