Back from the Dead: Using retreads to maximize profitability, Part 1

By Jack Roberts on

retreadPart 1 of the Back from the Dead series on retreaded tires covers the benefits — and little or no downside — of using retreaded tires and how to implement a retread program at your fleet. Part 2 will cover how investment in a retread program can pay off in the long and short run. See it here.

If there is a prevalent frustration in the commercial tire industry today, it’s that many fleet owners and truck drivers remain suspicious of retreads. As a consequence, some fleets lack a coherent used tire program – and they simply are throwing money away.

Goodyear’s G572 LHD Fuel Max retread has received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay verification.

Goodyear’s G572 LHD Fuel Max retread has received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay verification.

One would be hard-pressed to find a large national Class 8 fleet that does not have a comprehensive – and often highly detailed and data-driven – used tire and retread program. According to many tire makers, such programs remain underused among small and medium-sized fleets.

Up to 75 percent of the “alligators” – blown tire parts on highways – that people see actually are new tires or tires in their first life, says Mark Totten, vice president of sales and marketing for Goodyear’s Wingfoot Truck Care Centers. Moreover, fleets with basic used tire programs easily can save a minimum of 50 percent on three cycles of a tire’s four-cycle life.

“New tires today can be retread up to four times after their initial tread life ends,” Totten says. “The cost of a retread tire is half that of a brand-new tire.” Totten says the math is simple: Buy a new tire for full price, and once it wears out, it can be retreaded for half the initial acquisition cost. “You can do that up to four more times,” he says. “The savings are significant.”

Starting a retread program

The number of times a tire can be retreaded is situational and depends on a number of factors. Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the Retread Tire Association, says the main issues are the quality of the fleet’s tire maintenance program and the applications where the tires are used.

A technician for Pomona, Calif.-based KKW Trucking fills a truck tire with air. Proper inflation is critical for tires to enjoy a longer life.

A technician for Pomona, Calif.-based KKW Trucking fills a truck tire with air. Proper inflation is critical for tires to enjoy a longer life.

A fleet running trucks in rocky terrain – such as building projects or unpaved roads – is far more likely to get only one retread because of damage caused to the casing. A fleet running over the highways on the interstate, where the roads generally are in good condition, will enjoy more retreading opportunities.

“A fleet with a proper and well-maintained maintenance program can get up to three retreads before the tire’s life is over – one retread for use in a drive wheel position, and the other two retreads for use on trailers,” Brodsky says.

Fleets starting a tire program should understand that retread and used tire programs are different in nature, says Tom Fanning, Continental Tire the Americas’ director of replacement sales, North and Central America. Any tire removed from service for any reason should be inspected thoroughly by a qualified professional before the decision is made to put it back on a truck.

“Many fleets remove tires in pairs for proper matching and miss this important step on the ‘good’ tire that is placed in the rack for future use,” Fanning says. “That lack of inspection can potentially place a questionable tire back into service and cost the fleet expensive downtime that is easily avoided.” Casings sent for retreading are inspected before and after the retread process and should be ready to return to service when needed, he says.

Retreading a casing not only extends the tire’s life, it also saves oil and other natural resources required to create a replacement tire; it also reduces the tire contribution to landfills.

“This can be very important for fleets interested in reducing their carbon footprint or who have specific environmental targets they would like to meet,” Fanning says. Many of today’s retreads also are engineered to reduce fuel consumption. “With careful selection, fleets won’t miss out on the reduced rolling resistance that used to be found only with new tires,” he says.

Many heavy-duty fleets set rules and standards for casings sent for retreading, and those practices can be emulated by small and medium-duty fleets.

“A linehaul fleet may set a standard that they only run casings that are no more than five years old, only have a certain number of repairs and have only been retread twice,” says Ron Gilbert, Kumho Tire U.S.A.’s director of commercial tire sales.

While such standards generate more rejections, they help the fleet reduce potential road service calls and downtime by removing casings that do not meet specifications. Meanwhile, many sanitation fleets may extend the timeframe and number of allowable retreads to maximize the casing’s value and use.

“In a well-maintained linehaul fleet with a good tire and retread program, it is not unusual for a fleet to get the original tread, plus two to three retreads from a tire,” says Gilbert, who lists some basic starting factors to ensure a used tire and retread program’s successful implementation:

  • The initial purchase of a good quality new tire;
  • A dedicated overall vehicle and tire maintenance program; and
  • Support by a top-quality complete-service tire dealer and retreader.

Today’s retread tires retain all the characteristics of new tires, Totten says. “You can spec the exact same tread patterns on the retread tire that came on the tire when it was new,” he says. “There is absolutely no degradation in terms of performance or efficiency when running retreads.”

The longer a fleet can keep a casing in play, the more money it will save. “All major truck tires are designed for multiple lives,” Brodsky says. “To not maximize a fleet’s payback for their tire investment by retreading is crazy.”

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts is executive editor for CCJ and equipment editor for its sister magazine Overdrive. Roberts joined Randall-Reilly in 1995 as associate editor of Equipment World magazine and began covering both heavy-duty and light trucks in 1996. In 2006 he was the founding editor of Total Landscape Care before joining CCJ's staff in 2008.

13 comments
Circle C Enterprises
Circle C Enterprises

No one bothered to mention, the money you save by buying recapped tires, Your gonna spend that saved money and 50% more replacing mud flap hangers and mudflaps, front drive quarterr fenders, air bags, and what ever else the cap destroys when it is slung off. So where is the actual savings, going to. Your not saving it, your just having to spend it out on other replacement parts due to running a recapped tire. and Mr Reliable, I will sell you first time recaps drive tires for 225.00 each. You can save more than $50.00 under the price of a new tire. email me circlecenterprisesllc@gmail.com

 

Circle C Enterprises

Truck Repair & Maintenance

 

 

Thanks,

Christopher

sleepy head
sleepy head

The key to any tires life is correct inflation. If under inflated a new tire will peel just like an under inflated recap. You also want to by quality recaps. Check the dates on them. We run recaps on our trailers and have good luck with them. If you look at a new tire being made, the casing is made and the side walls and tread are molded on the casing.

Hawkeye
Hawkeye

How can "alligator" com from a "new" tire when a new tire is molded as one piece, and a retread is essentially 2 tires molded together, the casing, and the tread, which is what you find on the road, new tires are more apt to blow a side wall or go flat from puncture.

Mr Reliable
Mr Reliable

guest

I agree with Chas 1 BS on two issues We have been on the highway since 1970 The assertion that  new  tires are the alligators strewn all over is BS We have never blown a first line tire except once # 2 BS story is the savings issue on   recaps $50.00 is the best price differential we have ever found Factor in the cost of one service call and good bye savings on recap tires Mr Reliable 

tiredofretreads
tiredofretreads

Alot of companies probably would run caps but the support from retreaders is not there. If retreaders stood behind there product and drop the excuses retreading would stand a better chance. Believe it or not, not all tires that blow are either impact break or underinflated. Since we switched back to new tires we have dropped our on road tire replacements by more than 50%

Idahored6162
Idahored6162

One thing to keep in mind on a retreading program is to keep your own casing try not to buy casing from your tire supplier. You at least have an idea where your casing have been and what type of application they have ran in.

Coach O
Coach O

No safety cage use, no safety glasses, and no hearing protection...this fleet will lose all they save on tires to worker's comp claims and OSHA violations!!

Harvey Brodsky
Harvey Brodsky

Jack Roberts wrote a good and very objective article about the many benefits offered to fleets -whether a fleet of one truck or 1000 - and it should be required reading by all fleet managers who still do not understand how much money they can save by using retreads, all without sacrificing safety, performance or handling.

 

We have a great DVD of a retread plant tour available at no cost. It is titled REPUTABLE RETREADING and we will be happy to send a copy with our compliments.  To order a free copy please send an email to info@retreadtire.org, or call 831-646-5269.

 

Harvey Brodsky

Managing Director

Retread Tire Association

www.retreadtire.org

amused
amused

The photo of the "tech" airing the tire, while the empty tire cage sets nearby is wonderful, the lack of safety glasses seems minor.

chas1
chas1

"Up to 75 percent of the “alligators” – blown tire parts on highways – that people see actually are new tires or tires in their first life, says Mark Totten, vice president of sales and marketing for Goodyear’s Wingfoot Truck Care Centers". 

 

I say BS.  I have blown one virgin tire due to trying to get the most miles out of it and have blown at least 15 tires that are retread.  Most of them with half of the tread still on them.  Main culprit is where the cap is spliced together, sometimes in two spots.  Until I get the boss to figure out that the virgin tires are the route to go, I guess I will just sit on the side of the road, waiting for the next blow out to be put on(not saying virgins don't blow).

tireguy1947
tireguy1947

The first thing I noticed. Too bad most fleets use the least experienced, and poorly trained techs to service their # 2 controllable expense.

Coach O
Coach O

 @chas1

 Doing a good post- and pre- trip inspection on the tires will help keep you off the side of the road.

Pacttransport
Pacttransport

 @chas1

 Retreads will last you just as long as a virgin tire if you keep it inflated properly.  Sometimes it just takes a team player to make that happen.  Check the tire pressure regularly and do visual inspections at  pre and post trips.  It makes a world of difference in the extended life of a retread.



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