Customs Suck…But Tires Are Still Cheaper In The States

by Ed Lau on August 23, 2007

I mentioned awhile ago that I’ve bought some new wheels for my Mazda 3. They’re still about two to three weeks away since, I think, a Japanese guy is still forging them at this moment in the fires of Mount Fuji. Well, probably not but I like to think that’s how they’re being made so waiting is slightly less painful. Anyways, since the new rims are 18″ and my stock ones are 17″, that means I have to get some new tires.

After looking around, the best high performance summer tire that came in the size I need of 215/40/R18 were Kumho Ecsta SPT. These are Z-rated tires, which are rated for up to 149MPH…which is awesome except for the fact that my car tops out at about 120.

I don’t quite understand why stuff is still more expensive in Canada since our money is almost on par with the American dollar right now but if I were to purchase the tires here, four would cost me near $800. However, after looking online, I soon found a deal for just under $500 (taxes in) at Tire Rack and since they don’t have a store anywhere near me, I called up Discount Tire in Bellingham to get them to match it. A 40-minute drive to save almost $300 (remember I have to pay Canadian taxes too…)? Sign me up.

The day didn’t start well. For some reason, there was a massive lineup at the border…on a Wednesday. I’ve never seen so many people on the road not having to work before. I had to wait almost an hour and a half in line and I hate lining up for anything. I didn’t get across until about quarter after 5:00 and Discount Tire closes at 6:00…so I totally caned it the 25 miles to Bellingham.

If you live in Vancouver, this is a great way to save a few bucks if you’ve got the time (and trunk space) to go to Bellingham. My winter tires cost almost a hundred dollars more each in Vancouver…and that’s already if I buy them at Costco! The guys at Discount Tire will match any price and service was excellent.

So with my car crammed full of rubber, I made my way back across the border. Well, I did stay in Bellingham for awhile until dinnertime so I could miss the traffic and when I finally did leave, there was a fraction of the lineup I saw in the morning. However, lining up was pleasant compared to dealing with…ugh…customs.

Sorry but how come NAFTA doesn’t cover anything when I just happen to go across the border to buy things? Why are we still paying duties every time we go down to the States? I think it’s absurd to have to pay taxes again but thankfully, even with the extra $50 they charged me at the border, my total was still $275 less than the $800 I would’ve paid here in Canada. Border guards are all morons, by the way. Even though I declared my tires, I was still asked all sorts of idiotic questions like I’m a terrorist. That and it took those imbeciles close to 30 minutes to process something as simple as charging me 13% of $400.

But either way, it was a good day. Saving a decent amount of cash will always put a smile on your face. I’m one step closer to completing my car!

in Cars

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Propst August 23, 2007 at 5:14 am

It’s not much better with customs going from Detroit to Windsor. It’s always the same questions, “Yes, i’m a US citizen. Yes that is my photo ID (with my picture)… Yes I’m going to Windsor for the day. Yes I know that’s in Canada.”

It’s almost as if they assume I have no clue what’s on the other side of the Detroit River?


krillz August 23, 2007 at 7:51 am

personally I like the pirelli tires, well known and the endurance is awesome.
But then again I don’t know how big budget you had for new tires, as pirelli costs a lot unfortunately :(


Rick Yuen August 23, 2007 at 9:52 am

Border guards are so retarded. They hassle younger people more than older people. Maybe all the drugs that are successfully smuggled through borders are with grannies.
Congrats on the savings. You might want to consider purchasing stuff in the US after a 48 hour stay because you are allowed $450 Cnd of exemption.


krillz August 23, 2007 at 10:51 am

They should adopt the Russian way, one fast moving lane but then you have to pay bribes and one very slow moving lane that in worst cases you can be stuck in for 24+ hours.

The drugs, I believe most is being mailed into the country, that’s how most of the smuggling is done in Sweden anyway so might be the same in America.


Money Sexy Traffic August 23, 2007 at 8:07 pm

Great cross border hack!


Leo August 24, 2007 at 2:42 pm

You should have waited until your rims arrived, install them with cheap, used 18″ rubbers (you can get cast-offs at most tire stores for about $40 each or cheaper), drive down and have the the new rubbers installed at Tire Rack in Bellingham.
Just drive around a bit so they don’t look so new and you are scott free from taxes,


Ed Lau August 24, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Taxes was only $50! If I bought $160 worth of tires to drive down on, then that’s MORE expensive, you noob.


Leo August 25, 2007 at 11:07 am

Sorry, I forgot you bought Kumhos ;)


kate November 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

You assume all border guards are morons. They’re trained to look for things like this, and when you don’t declare them (after driving around for 4 or 5 hours – you’re the moron), you’ll not only get charged the original tax you should have paid, but a fine and you’ll get stopped EVERY time you cross the border in the future (air or land). You think crossing is a pain in the butt now? Just wait till you’re on their radar as a previous smuggler!


Braden November 10, 2009 at 5:09 am

Tire brand doesn’t make a difference. To mount and balance a set of tires is going to cost you $15 a wheel at least so your better off just driving down.

Ask them to make you a “customs friendly” invoice, pricing the tires at like $15 each, then you pay almost nothing. Customs officers don’t care if you put the real value or not, they just need the proper paperwork to process the information.


Tom July 2, 2010 at 8:49 am

Yup – I live in Windsor and the tires that I got quted $925 for here I got quoted 592 for in Detroit. Same brand, same exact tire. Both prices included all install and taxes “out the door” in their home currency. So even with a generous 5% exchange I save minimum $300 by buying in Detroit.

We get screwed in Canada. I bought sprinkler cans for my system at home and the Orbit Voyager II cans were $25 at Home Depot. Home Depot in Detroit sells them for $10.97 – regular price.

Figure that one out. Plus you can buy grub out in Detroit. Here in Canada we are expected to live with bald patches and dandilions. Things make less sense every day.


Averill Hecht July 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Good question!

NAFTA is suposed to end all duty on products made in the US, Canada, and Mexico. The only thing that I can think of is that Canada still puts that GST on you, but like was said above, you still have an exemption. But NAFTA should end any duty on the tires.


Johnny Young December 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Think twice before going from Vancouver BC to Bellingham WA to buy and have tires installed at Discount Tires. The tires cost $500 and plus US tax , labour cost, environmental fees etc +$72 i.e. a total of $572 pretty fair so far.Good value for money!!
So eagerly looking forward to a smooth trip!. But it turned to be otherwise with an hour waiting to cross the US border.The service at Discount Tire was great and efficient. Upon return for crossing Canada border, another hour was for waiting. So, I declared honestly everything and to my dismay, Canada Customs imposed taxation fees on the total cost for the tires ($572) and not on the net cost of the 4 tires($500).Despite reasoning with them, it was useless and they quoted rules and authority to augment their action, rightly and wrongly.
I find it absurd and ridiculous for them to impose tax on labour cost, environmental fees and US taxation fees inclusive every item instead of the net cost of the tires. All these expenses incurred in the US and the obsolete tires are to be disposed in the US etc.and has nothing to do with Canada. Really do not know the rationale for doing so.
This is a classic example of Canada Customs sucking so mean !!!
I just wonder whether Canada Customs have done a justifiable action in imposing tax!


amerykanos November 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm

All you mother f-ers stay in Canada if its so much better. Why don’t you contribute to your country’s economy morons instead you say how Canada is so awesome so much better then. Canada sucks. Admit it. Otherwise you wouldn’t be comming over the border. Even for a gallon of milk. Pathetic. And clean up all your empty boxes that you trash our plazas with you dirt bag cacucks.


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