Research Center

What is a Retread Tire?

Retread tires, also known as “recap tires” or “remolded tires,” are a great way to get more out of one of your fleet’s most important investments. Retread tires go through a rigorous remanufacturing process to extend the lifespan of a casing with all-new tread.

These days, high quality radial commercial truck tires are designed with future retreading in mind. Intact casings in good condition can be rejuvenated with fresh tread at least once, if not multiple times in many cases. Put simply, the process consists of removing old tread fragments and repairing any damage, resurfacing the tire, then affixing an all-new layer of tread to the casing.

Retreading is such a successful way of managing fleet tires and truck tires that nearly half of all North American replacement truck tires are retreads. Cutting edge retread techniques and tread patterns help commercial tires get a fresh start and stand up to all the same demands as new tires.

How is tire retreading done?

Retread tools, processes and manufacturing methods continually evolve and improve over time, and retread tires are safer and more effective than ever. You can rest assured that retread tires have strong structural integrity with new tread molded over existing, well-maintained tire casings.

Bandag’s thorough 10-step process for tire retreading ensures the highest quality recap you can trust. We use human expertise and technology throughout the retread cycle to meet our exceptionally high standards and ensure long-lasting, quality performance of your retread tires. Here’s a summary of how our retread process works - click here to view all 10 steps in detailincluding photos and videos.

The Retread Process, Simplified

 

  1. Tire Inspection - Trained and qualified Bandag specialists perform a thorough hands-on inspection of every part of the tire to identify any visible injuries. We follow that with an electrical inspection that uses technology to examine the crown and sidewall for issues that may not be visible to the naked eye. We also use shearography - laser technology to assess material quality and do non-destructive strain testing. This can identify any anomalies, embedded debris, and other non-visible damage. We only proceed with safe and structurally sound tire casings for retread.
  2. Buff & Repair - We inflate the casing to its operational shape, remove any worn tread surface, and true up the roundness of the tire, which reveals the undertread and readies the surface for next steps. At this stage, we also remove any damaged tire material and make any necessary repairs to get the tire casing into optimal condition.
  3. Cushion & Build - Next, we apply cushion - an uncured bonding layer - onto the casing surface. We carefully apply new tread to be perfectly straight and centered on the tire casing on the freshly buffed surface.
  4. Envelop & Cure - The retread tire is fully assembled now, but it needs to be wrapped and cured to permanently secure the new tread to the bonding layer.
  5. Final Inspection - That’s right, we go through the inspection stage again! We repeat the process to ensure the retread tire meets every one of our quality specifications. Your newly retreaded tire must provide better grip, reliability and top-grade tire performance.

What are the benefits of retread tires?

There are many benefits to retread a tire. Commercial retread tires look and act like new tires, but at a far lower cost, and with economic, environmental and efficiency benefits to boot.

Retread Tires Save Money

Tires are the leading maintenance cost of commercial vehicles. Tires are also second only to fuel when it comes to fleet expenses. Both maintenance and fuel expenses can benefit from a retread program.

Of the numerous benefits of retread tires, the most impactful may be the cost savings for your fleet. According to a report from Robert Handfield, Ph.D. at North Carolina State University, a retread strategy can improve your fleet’s metrics like cost-per-mile, cost-per-load and cost-per-vehicle, among others. The commercial and military aircraft industries save an estimated $100 million per year, and the trucking industry saves another estimated $3 billion per year thanks to retreaded tires, according to the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau.

The bulk of the cost of new tires comes from the tire casing, so replacing just the tread that meets the road makes up only a small percentage of the cost of a new tire. According to the 2005 book, “Managing Closed-Loop Supply Chains", retreaded tires preserve about 90% of the tires “perfectly good material” as well as selling for about 30 to 50 percent of the comparable new tire price. Between the immediate cost savings and the life extension from retreading a tire one or more times, you can reduce the cost of a tire by one-half to two-thirds. (Calculate your own potential cost savings from retread here.)

The EPA recognizes low rolling resistance (LRR) retread tires as fuel efficient tires. In a recent study conducted by Bandag, Josh Abel, Ph.D, reports tread rubber contributes up to 35% to 50% of tire rolling resistance. Tire retreading decreases that rolling resistance, which in turn reduces fuel costs and drives serious savings for your fleet.

Retread Tires Are Better for the Environment

2016 Ernst & Young study showed that retreading reduces carbon emissions, natural resource extraction, water consumption, air pollution, and land use. 

Keeping Rubber Out of Landfills

When tires have reached the end of their lives, they typically wind up in landfills. But the retread process helps extend the life of tire rubber and keeps it out of landfills longer. To date, Bandag has kept more than 300 million tires out of landfills since we started retreading in 1957.

Reducing Oil Consumption

According to the NHTSA Commercial Medium Tire Debris Study, each retread tire uses 30% less energy and 15 fewer gallons of oil to manufacture than a new tire. That means the average retread tire takes only 7 gallons of oil to produce, while a new tire takes as much as 22 gallons.

Giving Recycled Rubber New Life

A tire retread can buff an average of more than 12 pounds of rubber off of each tire - or nearly 90,000 tons of truck tire rubber every year. That rubber can be recycled and take on new life as playground surfaces, rubber mats, and rubber mulch, among other up-cycles.

Learn more about how Bandag makes a sustainable difference here.

Retread Tires are Good as New

The retread process is better than ever, and retread tires last as long - if not longer - than brand new tires. They perform just like new tires but for a portion of the cost.

With proper tire maintenance, a quality retread job can add mileage to your tires on par with most brand new tires. With proper inflation to avoid heat build-up and normal preventive maintenance measures, some estimates suggest a retread can add more than half a million miles to your tires.

Go with retread.

With every tire retread, you extend the life of your commercial tires and lower your fleet costs. Now that you know all about the construction and benefits of retread tires, you can join the countless enterprise truck fleets, military vehicles, firehouses and ambulances, on-road endurance and off-road rugged race competitors, and even airlines that take advantage of the many benefits of retread tires.

 

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