Fleet managers are well aware that tires make up a significant chunk of their expenses. Tires are the second-highest cost for fleets, behind fuel; clearly, it’s important to have a program in place to manage the tires all the way from cradle to grave.
The tire casing is the key to a tire cost management program; without it, there is no way to recoup additional value from the tire through retreading. It’s important to know the tire casing specifics—from how often they can be retreaded to the issues that limit tire life to the practices necessary for getting the most our of your tires. Fleet Equipment reached to out to tire experts to get the scoop on tire life and tire casings.
“Casing life varies according to a wide range of factors,” began Brian Buckham, general manager of product marketing for Goodyear. “There are differences in casing life, based on the vocation or segment in which the tire operates. For example, in the waste haul segment, tires can wear faster and waste haul tires can sometimes be retreaded up to five times if casings are properly maintained.”
According to Kevin Naumann of Continental fleet sales development for commercial vehicle tires, most fleets expect to retread a casing two to three times. However, this depends on the vocation the tire operates in—a waste fleet, for example, is going to have different casing life than a long-haul fleet or a pick up and delivery fleet.
“Truck tires represent a substantial capital investment for fleets,” Goodyear’s Buckham said. “Fleets should do everything possible to optimize the return on that investment. Extending a tire’s life cycle through retreading is an extremely effective way to achieve this.
“Retreads are more technically advanced than ever,” he continues, “and that goes for both tread rubber and the retreading process itself. Goodyear’s tread rubber products are engineered and manufactured to deliver matching performance compared to new Goodyear truck tires, from compounding to tread design.”
Retread operations have continued to improved their manufacturing procedures through the years. As an example, Buckham highlighted Goodyear’s GTRACS, an automated casing tracking system.
“GTRACS uses bar codes to track the progress of a casing through the retread process,” he explained. “After a casing has been retreaded, GTRACS provides fleets with valuable data about their retreads in the form of easy-to-understand, custom-made charts and graphs. All of the above ultimately results in a product that delivers value and performance to help fleets reduce their operating costs.”
“Premium new tires are made to be retreaded,” said Gary Nye, director of operations for Bandag, Bridgestone’s retreading brand, “and most leading manufacturers’ products are designed to be retreaded multiple times.”
Of course, type of operation and other conditions—from driver experience and maintenance, to weather and terrain—greatly impact the retreadability of a tire casing. Over-the-road fleets, which wear their tires out more slowly, will typically retread tire casings one to three times, according to Nye.
“Retreads continue to offer the lowest cost per mile solution and should be a part of any tire management program for fleets that want to control costs and operate more sustainably,” he said. “Today’s retread products—trusted by jet fighters and school buses—are safe, cost-effective and high-performing.”
“Cost is the ultimate advantage of retreading, as a retread is half the cost of a new tire and sometimes even less than that,” said Lance Ward, a commercial tire manager for Hankook Tires. “Retreading is also an environmentally friendly practice, they added, as much of the original tire is retained in the process.”
Cradle-to-grave tire management
“A lot of money is riding on a vehicle’s wheels. After all, a typical tractor/trailer runs 18 wheel positions,” said Gary Schroeder, director of commercial vehicle and global OEM sales for Cooper Tire and Rubber Co., assigned to the Roadmaster brand. “The owner’s investment in tires is worth protecting, and it’s worth knowing how to maximize performance based on operational factors.”
Schroeder went on to list the following checklist items for fleet tire programs: 1) Maintain proper tire inflation; 2) Routine tire rotations; 3) Check for irregular wear; 4) Ensure proper bead seating and tire installation; 5) Choose the right tire for the application; 6) Maintain and regularly check vehicle alignment; and 7) Remove tires for retreading at the right time.
- RELATED: Looking for more tire maintenance tips? Here is Cooper Tire’s detailed tire casing maintenance checklist.
Continental’s Naumann also recommends a written tire maintenance policy so both the shop and servicing dealer know the requirements. Some examples given by Naumann of items to include in such a policy include the following:
- Set a fleet check and inflation program every two weeks;
- Check air pressure requirements for steer, drive and trailer tires;
- Set pull points for steer, drive and trailer tires;
- In the case of duals—keep air pressure matched to within 5 PSI and tread depths within 4/32nd in.; and
- Limit how many retreads a tire can receive.