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I got an internet combo-deal to change oil and rotate tires at a shop in Sunnyvale, CA.

However, now mechanic called me back and is telling me that I have to change all four tires due to the wear. And that they won't rotate my old tires unless I get new ones for $435.

The tires aren't actually in that bad shape and tire protector is still clearly visible (I did not measure the depth though). Last tire change was a little more than 14K miles ago.

Is there a legal or technical reason why they can't rotate my old tires? If there is a reason, then what is the condition to consider tires too bad to be rotated?

It turns out my old tires have 40K mile warranty. I asked the tire shop how come they have become worn off so soon. They said that a tire inner edge has cracked for one of the tires. This raises question why they did not offer to change only two tires if only one tire is bad.

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What kind of vehicle? In particular, does it have 4WD? –  Nate Eldredge Oct 4 at 11:51
In any case, sounds like a situation where you might want to take the vehicle somewhere else for a second opinion. –  Nate Eldredge Oct 4 at 11:52
It's a liability thing. If that mechanic touches your tires and as you drive away, you have a blowout and fatal accident, he could be sued. I've had shops tell me they won't work on my tires. I've also had mechanics reject working on anything on my cars because the tires are so bad they won't even test drive it. Have you paid them yet? They can enforce whatever rules they choose to make up for whatever reason. –  Zach Mierzejewski yesterday
Definitely get a second opinion. He/she might be trying to trick you into buying new tires before you need them. If nothing else, take a photo of the tread and post in on this site for other's to look at. –  Sponge Bob 15 hours ago

2 Answers 2

Is there a legal or technical reason why they can't rotate my old tires?

There is no technical reason.

I don't know California law but it seems unlikely there's any law prohibiting him from rotating tyres that are not road legal. He's effectively warned you the vehicle is unsafe for use on the public highway and that should cover him against any legal claim. He is not responsible for what you do with your vehicle - you are.

Whether he can back out of the contract to rotate your tyres depends on whether there are any terms and conditions that you agreed to beforehand. It may be better to just negotiate to pay the normal cost for an oil change alone and take the vehicle elsewhere for an opinion on the tyres' condition.

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This is plain silly.

Rotation is done on tires that are currently in use, not on new ones. If the shop wants to replace all four tires then there is no point in having them rotated.

If the tire shop has troubles realizing that tire rotation is moot for new rubber then I have to agree with @NateEldredge - you're better off employing the services of someone else.

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