Even before the pandemic started roughly two years ago, online shopping had completely outstripped brick-and-mortar stores. It was only natural that the shift in consumer spending would extend out to car parts and tires. Today, many people opt to eschew in-person tire buying and purchase their rubber online like they would any other item. Still, many car parts, tires in particular, aren’t easy to install at home and require specialized equipment and trained technicians. That’s why it’s such major news that one of the biggest tire chains just acquired one of the biggest online retailers of tires . Discount Tire just merged with Tire Rack.

Welcome to Headlight . This is a daily news feature that lights up one current event in the car world and breaks it down by three simple subheadings: What Happened , Why It Matters , and What To Look For Next. Look for it in the morning (Eastern time) every weekday.

What Happened?

On Friday, December 3, Discount Tire put out a press release announcing its acquisition of online tire retailer Tire Rack, with a final closing date of December 31, 2021. The Tire Rack name and business will continue on, but the two companies will integrate closer in their operations. The deal will combine decades of experience from both companies, as Discount Tire was founded by Bruce Halle in 1960 and Tire Rack was founded by Wilma Veldman, Peter Veldman, and Mike Joines in 1979.

Why It Matters

This acquisition is huge. Tire Rack is one of the largest online tire retailers in the country, and it’s just been acquired by one of the largest standalone brick-and-mortar tire shop companies. As of this writing, Discount Tire has more than 1,000 locations, and that continues to grow. Now, Tire Rack’s “ship to installer” option just got a heck of a lot less complicated with more support by the tire supplier. In the past, installers weren’t always willing to play ball with installing tires not purchased at their shops, but this should smooth things out.

On the other hand, it could also have negative consequences. Because this gives Tire Rack a connection to real stores, it could potentially reduce or eliminate the perceived deals and cheaper costs that online tire shops offer to customers, but that is speculation for now.

What To Watch For Next

Buying tires online is great. The writers and editors at Car Bibles have taken this route plenty of times throughout the years, but getting them installed can be a royal pain. This opens up a direct line between online and installer, something other online tire retailers aren’t able to do. Currently, Tire Rack will recommend whatever installer is closest to you, be it a Goodyear, Firestone, or some indie tire shop. If Tire Rack is part of Discount Tire, it may insist that Tire Rack purchases are mounted and serviced at Discount Tire stores. Still, this ease of installation could streamline service and make online tire purchases at Tire Rack a lot easier than what you have to deal with from other sites like Simple Tire or Amazon.

It also instantly creates a massive network for Tire Rack to work from and out of. As convenience (and avoiding dealerships and people in general) continues to become a bigger priority to consumers, mobile tire installation will become a bigger business. Tire Rack already offers this service through a company called ASAP Tire, and this could theoretically help expand this side of the business. With more stores and shops to store equipment and source tires from, the ASAP tire service could be used in more parts of the country.