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Home » BLOG » The Retreading Industry and the Myths Surrounding It

Myths permeate the tire industry. When it comes to retreading, this is especially true.

When it comes down to the cold hard facts, we are here to squash the negative perceptions of the retreading industry. We understand that fleet managers want top-of-the-line parts and efficiency when it comes to their operation. A solution that positively impacts your bottom line and helps your business cut costs is important. As opposed to snatching up low-cost tires, you should consider the value of retreading your current tires.

What Is Retreading?

What is Retreading

Also known as remolding or recapping, retreads are the process of removing worn tread from your vehicle’s tires and replacing them with new treads. By replacing your treads, you can continue to operate your vehicle on your tires instead of purchasing new ones.

Back in the 1960s, retreads were the most economical consumer solution because of limited technology — for the first half of the 20th century, most tires contained an inner tube, which was often susceptible to damage during road use. Tire technology changed for the mainstream when B.F. Goodrich filed a patent for tubeless tires, which allowed both consumer and commercial vehicles to go farther and faster with less damage to the tires. While these advancements in tire technology mean that retreads are no longer common on consumer vehicles, retreading commercial truck tires is still a common practice in the industry.

Myth #1: Retreaded Tires Don’t Perform Well

Retread Myths

Fact: Retreads Perform the Same as New Tires

To maximize your retread performance, it is crucial you’re choosing the right retread for your fleet’s application. Choosing the incorrect retread for your fleet could have a negative effect on your tire performance.

According to the Retread Performance Study, there is little to no difference in the durability performance of a retreaded tire and a new tire. Instead, the main factors in performance is the original quality of the tire casing, such as damage and repairs, and the actual retreader doing the work. Keeping up with your tire maintenance and using a dealer that follows the proper retreading process with quality materials are important to the quality and performance of the retread.

Example

A study on retread tire safety performed by the University of Michigan found that the top reasons for casing removal were due to maintenance/operational factors and underinflated operation. This study clearly shows that tire maintenance is directly correlated to the performance of the tires. The retread process has similar manufacturing standards as brand-new tires, and because of this, retreads have the same performance expectations.

Myth #2: Retreads Aren’t Safe

Retreads Aren Not Safe

Fact: Retreads are Held to the Same Safety Standards as New Tires

Understanding the retreading process and the strict guidelines each tire is held to shows that they are set to the same performance standards as new tires.

  1. Initial Inspection: Each tire goes through a rigorous hands-on and visual inspection. The trained specialist will find and mark all visible injuries to the tire in this step. The first step is very demanding and only the best proven inspected casing will pass the initial inspection.
  2. Buffing: The casing is inflated to its operational shape and the old tread is removed with high-speed buffers. These machines remove the accurate amount of old rubber and prepares the surface for the new tread.
  3. Retrading: This is done by either a Mold Cure or Pre-Cure. Both require time, heat, and pressure to vulcanize rubber to the trad of the tire.
    • Mold Cure: In this process, unvulcanized tread rubber is applied to the casing. It will then be placed in a mold that has a tread design. The mold is heated and the rubber in the tread area adheres to the casing with the new tread design molded into it.
    • Pre-Cure: In this process, the tread rubber has already been vulcanized with a new tread design, making the mold unnecessary. A thin layer of cushion gum is wrapped around the tread area and the pre-cured tread is applied. The cushion gum is a bond between the tread and the tire to keep the tread in place. The tire is then placed into a curing chamber and is heated so the tread adheres to the tire through a vulcanizing process.
  4. Final Inspection: The tire goes through another hands-on and visual inspection and must meet industry standards before they can leave the retread plant.

Example

Statistics compiled from the USDOT show that nearly all tire related accidents are caused by underinflated or bald tires. Professional retread shops are required to follow very strict recommended practices during the entire retreading process to ensure the safety of the completed tire.

Regulations have also been put into place by the FMCSA to keep the use of retread tires safe. For example, section § 393.75 regulates that buses may not utilize retread tires on its front wheels, while trucks and tractor trailers cannot use retreaded tires on the front tires if the load is greater than or equal to 4,920 pounds.

Did you know? In 2009, an executive order signed by the President started requiring federal agencies to replace original tires with retreaded tires wherever possible.

Myth #3: Retreads Cause Tire Blowouts

Retreads Cause Tire Blowouts

Fact: Inflation Issues Cause Blowouts

The best way to prevent tire blowouts is to routinely check your inflation pressure. Using a tire pressure gauge or TPMS are great ways to effectively maintain your tire pressure.

Under-inflation will cause excessive heat build-up and stress on your tires due to sidewall deflection. This typically results in irregular wear and internal damage, increasing your chances of a blowout.

Over-inflation makes your tire stiff and more susceptible to cuts, punctures, and other types of damage when hitting obstacles on the roadway.

Example

As noted in the NHTSA Commercial Medium Tire Debris Study, air pressure maintenance is a higher cause of failure than whether or not a tire has been retreaded.

Advantages of Utilizing Retreads

Economical

When you think about retreading, one of the first benefits that may come to mind is saving money. Retreading tires is a more economical solution because they can:

  • Minimize the cost of tire ownership
  • Increase sustainability
  • Boost profits
  • Lower the cost per mile

Fleets both large and small spend anywhere between 30-40% less on retreads compared to buying new. American fleets commonly work with retreads, and they are a go-to solution when fleets are looking to lower their operating costs. Retreading a single casing several times can reduce the overall tire cost by upwards of 40%.

The retreading industry is growing because of the decreasing rubber availability and increasing rubber cost—making new tires far from the most economical answer.

Retreading Is Recycling

Looking from a more sustainable point of view, a retread tire requires about 7 gallons of oil to manufacture versus new tires that need 22 gallons of oil. As a result, this can save up to 50 gallons of oil for each retreaded tire up to four cycles! There are other environmental benefits such as:

  • Keeping tires out of landfills
  • Reducing greenhouse emissions
  • Limiting the use of new materials
  • Conserving fuel

With the topic of conserving the environment becoming more prevalent, retreads are an easy way to do your part in protecting the environment while reducing your operating expenses.

With costs associated with tires always increasing, you can’t let old myths dictate your tire budget. Now that you have the facts on the retreading industry, you can make informed decisions when deciding between new tires or retreads.

With over 40 years of innovation, we are always researching and developing new ways to keep your fleet safe and more productive. Contact us today to learn more about how our solutions can support your fleet!