Background on Tire Retreads
December 26, 2014
Author: Jackie Evans, Account Administrator
Most everyone has heard the term “retreaded tires”, but some may not know exactly what that is. To state it simply, retreading is the process where selected and inspected worn tires, called “casings,” receive a new tread. Tire retreading became an industry in the early 1900s and grew steadily. Today, there are approximately 850 retread plants throughout North America. Tire retreading is becoming a more common practice in today’s commercial industry.
The process for retreading tires is most commonly done by a mold cure or pre-cure process. Both processes start with tire inspection. This includes looking at the tire casing to make sure there is no non-visible damage, embedded debris, or nails. The worn tread is then buffed away and a new tread is put onto the tire body.
The procure method uses previously prepared tread strip and is applied to the casing with adhesives. This process allows for more flexibility and is the most commonly used method. The mold cure method applies raw rubber to the tire casing and it is then placed in a mold where the tread forms. The overall objective is the same for both of these processes – affixing a new tread to a previously used casing.
There are many advantages for truck owners to use retreaded tires. A main advantage is that it can be a significant cost savings to fleet owners. A retreaded tire costs less to produce than a new tire and sells for less as well. Today commercial truck tires are a product designed to provide multiple tread lives over the life of the casing. The casing life should be monitored and managed closely by the tire owners as tires can be a large maintenance cost of operating commercial vehicles on the road.
A common concern with retreaded tires is, are they safe? A common misconception is that the tire fragments found along the side of highways and interstates is due to more retreaded tires in use. In actuality, the fragments come from both new and retreaded tires alike. In addition, the USDOT has a certification that is required for all retreaded tires. Most manufacturers have additional standards in place for production. A study done by the USDOT showed that nearly all tires involved in tire related accidents or crashes, was due to the tire being underinflated or bald. It did not correlate directly with the tire being new or retreaded. The main reason treads separate from the casing is due to heat (this goes for both new and retreaded). This is most often caused by improper inflation and overloading. Checking your tires on a regular basis can help alleviate issues in the future.
Generally, retreaded tires are found to be as safe and reliable as new tires. As with any product, there is different quality depending on where the product is purchased. The best way to determine if you’re getting a quality product is to research! Retreaded tires have their advantages and disadvantages, and using them is a personal choice.