The Economics of Tire Retreading

retreading a tire

In the world of fleet management, maintaining the quality and performance of your trailer tires is important. Trailers have a lot of tires, and it’s important to keep them all in good shape. But buying new tires might not always be the best option for your bottom line.

Instead, retreading worn tires is a sustainable, cost-effective solution that can extend the life of your tires and keep your fleet rolling smoothly.

How Does Retreading Work?

Tire retreading refurbishes worn-out tires by replacing the tread, the outer rubber layer that comes into contact with the road. After a tire is damaged or has experienced sufficient wear, it needs to be replaced or retreaded. 

The process begins with a tire inspection to determine whether the tire is viable for retreading or should be discarded.

To ensure the tire can still be used, Bridgestone, through its Bandag retreading division, uses multiple technologies through different stages of inspection to make sure it can withstand being used again.  

The inspection starts by carefully removing the outer tread casing and repairing any damage. The new tread is then applied and cured to bond it to the original rubber. After a final inspection, the retreaded tire is ready to roll out again, as good as new. Watch the transformation in this video demonstration.

But Are Retreaded Trailer Tires Really ‘Good as New’?

“Barring any catastrophic event on the road like hitting a pothole or a puncture, you would expect a very similar life to a new tire, depending on what you’re comparing it to,” said Tanya Miracle, Director, OE Truck Channel, Bridgestone. “If you’re comparing it to a lower tier tire and not a premium tire, you may expect even more miles, up to double.”

Miracle adds that tires can be retreaded to match the needs of certain trucking operations.

“Make sure you’re choosing a tread pattern on your retread that matches your application,” she said. “If you’re putting it back in the drive position, you want a drive pattern. If you’re putting it on a trailer application, you want a trailer pattern. The application also goes beyond position and can mean long haul versus regional haul specific patterns.”

How Much Money Can a Fleet Save?

Retreading tires isn’t a simple process, and not every tire casing makes the cut—so how cost-effective can it be? 

“It costs 30-50% less than a new tire purchase,” Miracle adds. “If I were to go buy, for instance, an R123 tire on a trailer, the equivalent retread to that would cost about 30-50% less.”

No matter which Great Dane trailer your fleet uses, each retreaded tire is an opportunity to save. Check out this saving calculator from Bandag. 

To make sense of a wide range of prices, assume an average cost of $400 per tire. To replace all eight tires on a standard-length trailer, like Great Dane’s Everest reefer, the bill would be around $3,200. Using Miracle’s calculation, retreading could save your fleet between $960 and $1,600 per trailer each time new tires are needed.

If your fleet requires premium or specialist tires, those costs—and subsequent savings—can easily double. Once a tire is retreaded, you can expect a similar length of use to that of a new tire.

Heavy-duty transportation needs trailers, and those trailers can’t move effectively without good tires. For fleets looking to maximize uptime while saving every penny possible, a viable retreading program can help keep their equipment stay on the move longer for less.

trailer technician changing a tire

Best Practices for Tire Maintenance

Proper tire maintenance is important to maximize the lifespan and performance of any tire, retreaded or new. Regular inspections, proper inflation, and alignment checks are crucial.

To help keep your tires in top condition, it’s important to understand the basics of trailer tire maintenance, including load ratings, sizes, and the importance of proper inflation.

Read more about tire specifications and maintenance here.