By David Stevens
Managing Director, TRIB
Deciding to buy and use retreaded tyres on your vehicle or in your fleet is an easy decision to make. At least it should be. The benefits of tyre retreading stack so heavily in its favour that educated buyers should have no doubts about purchasing retreaded tyres. Yet, doubts remain for an industry that has dealt for years with the FUD Factor (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). Now, more than ever, the retread industry needs to expand our efforts to educate consumers, fleets, and governments about the economic and environmental benefits of retreading. I would suggest that retreaders can combat the FUD Factor with our own Factor: SRP (Safety, Reliability, and Performance). Let’s take each of these in turn.
Moving From Fear to Safety
The oldest misconception we deal with in the retread industry is that retreaded tyres are not as safe as new tyres and that they easily come apart, leaving rubber fragments strewn about our highways. In recent times in the United States, a couple of states have used this misconception to look at banning the use of retreaded tyres in their states. These actions were started with a complete lack of understanding of retreading and the technologically sophisticated process retreaded tyres go through. Once studies were undertaken by these states and the Federal Government to look at the use of retreading, they all reached the same conclusions. Both new and retreaded tyres rarely fail, but when they do, they fail at the same rate and the failures are primarily related to running under-inflated, overloaded, or abused in some other way. It almost always has nothing to do with the new or retreaded manufacturing process. These studies also determined that retreaded tyres were economically beneficial to the state and federal governments and recommended that the use of retreaded tyres be INCREASED where possible. Countless government fleets across the US use retreaded tyres for their school buses, fire trucks, ambulances and postal vehicles.
Moving From Uncertainty to Reliability
Downtime for any truck or fleet can be costly in terms of repairs, missed deliveries, and lost profits. That’s why you see the best-managed fleets meticulously maintain a service and repair plan for their fleet, including their tyres. Large fleets that have access to thousands of points of data on their operations are constantly testing new technologies and ways of operating to decrease downtime and improve profits. Of course, retreaded tyres are included in this testing data to see how their cost-per-mile compares to other products, including low-cost new tyres. Time and time again, these fleets have found that a quality new matched to their specific application along with a strong casing management program and partnership with a quality retreader leads to the best combination of performance, cost, and reliability. A large part of the reliability of retreaded tyres comes down to the multiple inspections the tyres go through before and during the retread process to ensure they are good candidates for retreading. From visual inspections, high-voltage debris detectors, x-ray, and shearography; potential candidates for retreading are poked, prodded, and carefully analyzed to ensure they can serve another useful life on the road.
Moving From Doubt to Performance
New truck manufacturers specifically engineer their tyres to be retreaded multiple times and provide warranties that guarantee their casings for multiple retreading lives. Fleets that buy new tyres and don’t retread them are simply throwing away a huge part of their investment. We often get asked by drivers how many miles they can expect to get from retreaded tyres. The fact is, if you buy a quality casing, maintain proper air pressure, pull the casing at the right point for retreading, and use a similar tread design and compound in retreading; there is no reason you shouldn’t get similar mileage (and sometimes more) from a retreaded compared to a new. For this reason, many of the new manufacturers will offer retreaded s in the same tread pattern and compound as their new tyres. If you find the that works best for your application, you will likely be able to replicate that success with each subsequent retreading.
While Safety, Reliability, and Performance (SRP) are key components of the retread story, the story would not be complete without discussing the environmental benefits of retreading. This may not influence the bottom line of companies using retreaded tyres, but it influences the bottom line of the world in which we live. Retreading saves massive amounts of raw materials, including rubber, steel, oil and other chemicals used in the manufacturing process. It takes approximately 22 gallons of oil to manufacture a new commercial truck, but only 7 gallons of oil to retread the same. Every year, instead of becoming havens for disease-carrying mosquitoes, millions of tyres are kept out of landfills through successful retreading and eventually being recycled into fuel, rubber mats and other products.
Retreading should be an easy decision to make and it’s our job in the industry to continue that process of educating potential customers about the SRP of retreading and dispel any FUD that may linger in their minds. This perhaps has become more challenging as the price of low-cost, low-quality imported s has reduced the initial cost differential between new and retreaded tyres. However, this has not altered the total cost-per-mile benefits of a strong retreading program. Intelligent customers who view their tyres as an investment and not an expense will profit greatly from their investment in retreaded tyres.
For more resources and information about the benefits of retreading, please visit our website at www.retread.org.