Goodyear Tire and Rubber
Michelin North America
Tire Retread Information Bureau
Industry surveys have found most on-road tire remains were caused by failed casings, both from new tires and retreads, normally due to overload or low air pressure.
You’ve heard horror stories about retreads that failed. These stories are normally told without an understanding of what makes tires, including new tires, come apart. They also often reflect a lack of knowledge about how good retreading technology actually is these days.
Tread will last, at most, about 350,000 miles, says Al Cohn, Goodyear’s manager of strategic initiatives for commercial tires. However, a properly maintained casing is designed to last as long as 750,000 miles, he says, and that’s why a careful retreading program has the potential to save money.
Consequently, “Retreading is the solution to maximizing the investment that a fleet has made in the casing itself,” says Randy Clark, vice president of marketing for Michelin America Truck Tires.
“No major truck tire manufacturer would dream of bringing a truck tire to market that has not been designed for multiple lives,” says Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the Tire Retread Information Bureau. “If manufacturers did, no one would buy it because it would not be cost-effective.”
Cohn estimates that nearly 85 percent of large fleets retread their tires.
“You can’t afford to put new tires on everything,” says Dorothy Maddox, vice president of Nick and Dees Trucking, a small fleet in Hereford, Texas. “You can’t afford to go any other way, because you can’t even sell the casings.” Her fleet’s experience with retreads has been spotty. On rare occasions, tread has peeled off, without a casing failure, and damaged their equipment. “Heat has a lot to do with the problems we’ve had,” she says, particularly during summer operations in the Southwest.
She says the fleet’s present experience, with Michelin retreads, has been the best. They’ve had much better experience with retreading done by local dealers than with buying retreads on the road.
Maddox says casing preparation has proved to be a key to successful retreads, and experts agree that casing maintenance is the most important step for a retreading program. Because air is part of the structure of the tire, running underinflated will destroy a casing because it will flex more than it’s designed to, creating heat that weakens it.
Don Schauer, manager of fleet communications at Bandag, reports that 75 percent of on-road failures are the result of too little pressure for the load. Be careful about loading properly and, using pre-trip and on-road checks, keep tire pressures as close as possible to the maximum recommended pressure when fully loaded. Use a calibrated pressure gauge, not one that’s been bouncing around in the glovebox. Note tire damage likely to cause leakage and get repairs quickly.
The next step is to avoid abuse. Round corners carefully so tires don’t run over curbs. Avoid hitting objects on the road.
Correct repairs will preserve a good casing, while poor ones mean a death sentence. Bandag recommends having repairs done only by a technician certified by the Tire Industry Association. Be aware that tires must be removed and installed with proper tools to avoid bead damage. (The old blow-it-onto-the-rim-with-ether trick is strictly taboo.) Unless punctures are sealed from inside the casing after removing the tire from the rim, tire cords will rust, rendering the casing useless.