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Understanding the value of retreading

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More than 85% of commercial fleets retread. Depending on the specific tread design and tread depth, a retreaded cap/casing generally cost about 50% versus the cost of a new tire. If the fleet supplies the casing and only purchases the tread, the retread is only about 25% the cost of a new tire. There is plenty of incentive for fleets to retread and protect their casings. Most tires (with the exception of widebase) can expect two retreads per casing if they are running in linehaul service vocations. Pickup and deliver applications tend to scrub the rubber off very quickly and can see three and even four retreads/casing. Most well-maintained widebase tires target one retread. These widebase tires are working a little harder during every tire revolution when compared to a conventional dual tire. In addition, they are heavier and generate heat which can affect the long term durability of the tire casing.

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The secret of success to ensure that the casing can survive multiple retreads is to keep the tires properly inflated all the time. Heat is a tire’s worst enemy. When tires, especially those inside duals, are run underinflated, the footprint becomes longer and the sidewalls are flexing more frequently. Rubber does not like too much heat. From a chemical perspective, the rubber will begin breaking down when it generates excessive heat, which leads to rubber degradation. When this occurs, the casing will not pass the retread inspection process.

Looking for more insight on tires and wheels? Click here to read through Al Cohn’s archive of columns.

Tires tend to pick up many objects that cause punctures, which can lead to air loss of several pounds per day. This does not sound like very much for a 100-PSI truck tire, but after a week, that tire may be 20% underinflated. Fuel economy also drops dramatically when the tire is run underinflated, which is due to the elongated tire footprint. Initiating a serious tire inspection and inflation program will go a long way in identifying those tires with low inflation pressure and will keep casings in good shape for the retread process.

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Through osmosis, a tire casing will lose 1 to 3 PSI every September depending on the specific tire make and model. Slow leaking tread area punctures together with loss of air through osmosis will quickly lead to tire underinflation and many negative issues for your tire program.

It is important to have a good relationship with your retread supplier. Tire retreading is a manufacturing process and any retreaded tire is only as good as the workmanship and the quality control of the plant that manufactured the retread. There are several types of retreads available to a fleet, which include mold-cure and a pre-cure process. There are a wide range of tread designs and tread compounds that fleets can specify. The Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of the American Trucking Association has published a recommended practice (RP 221) on Retread Plant Inspection Guidelines. Visiting retread suppliers and inspecting their facilities will help ensure that you are choosing the best retreaded tire for your fleet operation.

Many retreaders provide the following services:
• Pickup/delivery of tires and casings;
• Repairing tires;
• Scrap tire disposal;
• 24-hour road service;
• Full reporting of casing
analysis; and
• Short turn-around time.

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Doing a comprehensive plant tour and inspection will help determine if the retreader can meet your goals and expectations. Some important things to note:
• Is the plant well lighted?
• What kind of ongoing training do the workers receive?
• What kind of system is setup to analyze tire casings?
• What kind of computerized buffing system is utilized?
• Is a good system available for performing tire repairs?
• Are the retreads thoroughly analyzed during the final inspection process?

Working closely with your tire professional and retreader will go a long way in designing a new tire and retread program that will meet or exceed your expectations. There are two excellent industry resources for further details on retreading:
Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB); and
Retread Tire Association (RTA).

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