Do retreads impact tire safety? Get the facts before you buy
Retreaded tires are nothing new, yet the topic can still divide fleet managers. While some have fully supported the innovation, others are hesitant to try retreads: can they really stand up to cross-country trips over rough terrain or on icy highways?
Of course, performance isn’t the only element to consider. When a damaged tire blows out, sending shreds of rubber whipping across the lanes, it puts the truck and every vehicle around it in danger. You’ll want to make sure retreads can hold up in every situation, and that any savings you enjoy aren’t compromised by a greater safety risk.
Why use retreads?
Retreads have come a long way since their invention in the early 20th century, and today fleets of all sizes routinely retread the tires on their trucks. Here are a few reasons to consider choosing retreads over brand new tires.
Modern retreads are durable, and they’re not a one-time solution – tires can be retreaded multiple times. That can translate to an extra 800,000 km of use before the tire is spent! Proper inflation can both increase performance and extend the life of the tire, allowing it to be retreaded up to three times.
Clearly, retreads beat new tires when it comes to carbon footprint, since there’s less waste going to a landfill. In fact, over 65 per cent of scrap tire material in Canada is managed and recycled, and retreaded tires are an important feature of the nation’s growing tire recycling program.
Tires are a huge expense for any trucking company – they’re right up there with fuel and payroll. If you can avoid replacing the entire tire, you should be able to save yourself a good amount of money.
It may seem like retreads are only appropriate for specific circumstances; in reality, they’re generally fit for any terrain or season. The crucial point is that you match the tire to the application in order to increase fuel efficiency and prolong function.
Tires can be retreaded multiple times, which could add an extra 800,000 km of use before the tire is spent.
Aren’t retreaded tires risky?
While early retread technology left something to be desired, times have changed. In fact, experts point out that the gators and tire scraps you’ll see on the highway are just as often from new tires as they are from retreads. In most cases, the problem comes down to improper maintenance, misalignment, overheating, and road hazards – not retreaded rubber.
Replacing old tires is simply not enough: you need to add frequent monitoring, professional maintenance, and good driving habits to the mix if you want your tires to perform safely and efficiently for as long as possible.
Driver training plays a big role in tire safety
Routine tire checks and better response to road hazards are keys to improving tire performance and safety, but your staff must commit to these steps for your business to benefit. As an owner or manager, you need to effectively communicate the company’s best practices in order to reduce the risk of tire damage or disintegration.
As you compile your training and maintenance strategy, consider incorporating some smart tips to help prevent tire damage and failure, like:
- Check tires at least once a day, and during your pre-trip inspection.
- If you drive through road debris or over rough surfaces, be sure to inspect all tires at your next stop.
- Check tire tread and sidewalls for signs of damage. Look for punctures, excessive scuffing, or misalignment.
- If you find defects, don’t take the risk of driving with a damaged tire – replace the tire as soon as possible.
- Tire pressure can fluctuate more in cold weather. When the temperature dips, check tire pressures more frequently.
- Rotate, balance, and align tires periodically to ensure even wear.
- Choose an appropriate tire and tread design for the current weather conditions.
Invest in expertise
Knowing what to look for and how to fix tire problems can be more difficult than it seems. It makes good sense to work with tire professionals as needed, and raise the bar in the workplace with focused training and education. Here are just a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to tire maintenance:
- Experience is a virtue: consider using a professional tire installer to install, replace, and repair tires.
- Opt for a reputable tire supplier over the cheapest option, whether you’re purchasing new tires or retreads.
- Educate maintenance staff on how to safely inspect all tires for defects and damage.
- Train drivers on how to identify the signs of tire failure and how to report defects according to company policy.
- Provide a defensive driving course that focuses on active road scanning and safely avoiding hazards.
Tire safety applies to the workplace, too. Use safety equipment like tire cages to protect staff from undetected hazards (such as zipper defects) during tire inflation, and make sure your equipment is always in good working order. If you’re not sure where to make changes, a consultation from a risk management professional can get you on the right track and help keep your fleet rolling along with the right protection.
Retreads have earned their good reputation for a number of reasons, but simply using retreads won’t make or break your fleet’s safety record or performance standards. In order to stay safe and profitable, you’ll have to consider how your retreads can fit into your wider risk management routine.