Selecting a top-quality retreader

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For most fleets, tires are the No. 1 maintenance cost item. According to the Technology & Maintenance Council, tires eat up about 25 percent of a typical fleet’s maintenance budget.

So it stands to reason that getting as much life as possible out of your tires is a good way to save big dollars. And one way to do that is to make sure your casings are being retreaded with care, skill and the right equipment and materials.

But how do you select a top-flight retreader? The Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), Pacific Grove, Calif., and Marrin Bozarth, retreading expert and former driver and fleet manager, offer the following guidelines:

Visit any prospective vendor’s factory before making a decision. Retreading is essentially a remanufacturing operation, starting with a worn casing. “There are a number of different retreading techniques that are used, all of which can provide satisfactory results when employed by a top quality retreader,” according to Bozarth. “The differences among these techniques are far less significant than how well any given supplier follows the recommended procedures for the systems he is using. People ask me all the time which system (mold-cure or pre-cure) is best. All will do a good job and provide a good quality product, if done properly. The retread will only be as good as the care and quality of material used to make it.

“Pay particular attention to the casing inspection area,” Bozarth adds. “Ask to see the non-destructive testing equipment being used. This enables the retreader to determine whether the casing has structural damage.”

Ask for a list of customers the retreader is currently serving. Try to get names of fleets that have operations roughly similar to your fleet size and type of trucks. “If the retreader can’t give you several references, he probably doesn’t have any customers that he knows he is doing a good job for,” Bozarth reasons.

Ask how quickly the retreader can turn around tires, what his warranty is, what type of pick-up and delivery service he provides.

Limit the initial purchase contract to three months. After this initial period, negotiate the price and service contract on an annual basis. A three-month trial period is long enough to determine if the retreader can meet the fleet’s needs, without the fleet making a long-term commitment.

Have an annual review to assure that you are still getting the best price and service. If there is any major change in fleet operations that can affect tire wear, make sure the retreader can accommodate them. “It’s a mistake to think that what works today is going to work forever,” says Bozarth.

For more information, including arranging a tour of a retread plant in your area, contact TRIB at (888) 473-8732 or info@retread.org.