Retread Tire vs. New: Cost, Sustainability & Safety
The debate between retread or recap tires vs. new tires most often comes down to making the right decision for each specific truck within each fleet. Understanding the pros and cons of each and then properly maintaining them while in operation and inspecting them when you take them out of service can help you make the best decision for your fleet management.
While we might assume that new tires will last longer than a retread, studies show that new and retread tires are equally vulnerable to failure and tire maintenance is critical to their successful performance.
When considering how retreads compare to new tires, many fleet managers will claim that replacing their truck tires that have worn out with new ones is very beneficial. The tires and their materials are new; thus, they feel that the tires are far from any need for potential repairs or quality issues because they are without any wear from road conditions or weather. Fleet managers will also say that replacing road-worn tires with a new tire is safer for their fleet, citing increased cushion and performance as some of the main benefits. The other common opinion is that new tires get better gas mileage than retread tires because the new casing and support layers will give them a smooth ride over the road. However, when ranked, a Bandag brand retread outperforms most new and retread tires in fuel efficiency - second highest in the category to be exact.
With sponsorship from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a comprehensive study on truck retread tire safety which found that road hazards and operating conditions such as low tire pressure were the main causes of tire failure and that both new and retread tires were equally vulnerable to failure. The study collected approximately 86,000 pounds of tire/rubber casings and debris from new and retread tires within five states; Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, and Virginia. Samples were examined by tire experts to determine the tire type and cause of failure.
The top three reasons that the casings were removed from service at truck stops were road hazards (32%), maintenance/operational factors (30%), and over-deflected operation (14%). Analysis of tire fragments found on the roadside revealed that the two dominant reasons for their condition were 39% from road hazards and 30% due to excessive heat.
Are Retread Tires More Cost-Effective Than New Tires?
With the cost factor of gas mileage being equal, you can look at the cost of new tires vs. retread tires and see that you can gain some cost efficiency with retread tires. If you try to cut the price margin by purchasing cheap tires, you need to factor in that a premium tire/retread combination can last up to 500% longer than ultra-low-cost new tires used only once. Tire inflation, tread depth, and fuel consumption are all a part of the puzzle when looking to save money. By maintaining your tires and ensuring correctly inflated tires, fleet managers can save on their fuel spend.
Are Retread Tires More Sustainable than New Tires?
If you want to consider sustainability and the environment into the cost of tires, reused and recycled materials contribute to a circular economy—only 1/3 of the raw materials used compared to new tires, contributing to greater sustainability.
Retreading is one of the oldest examples of a circular economy, in that the worn tire is recovered from becoming waste and repaired for reuse on a commercial vehicle. When you can no longer repair the worn tire for safe use, its materials are repurposed for its next life cycle. Since 1957, Bandag has kept an estimated 300 million tires out of the waste stream – all while helping fleets lower operating costs with remolded or retreaded tires that perform like new tires at a fraction of the price.
Are Retread Tires as Safe as New Tires?
The short answer is yes. However, the honest answer to this is knowing that the leading causes of tire failure are road hazards and low tire pressure, not whether or not the tire is a retread. The University of Michigan study found that the top three reasons that the casings were removed from service at truck stops were road hazards (32%), maintenance/operational factors (30%), and over-deflected operation (14%). Analysis of tire fragments found on the roadside revealed that the two dominant reasons for their condition were 39% from road hazards and 30% due to excessive heat.
We can provide the same answer for the question of how long retread tires will last. It all comes down to tire maintenance. Tire maintenance is critical to successful tire performance. The results of the study found that monitoring of tire pressure is an essential part of preventative maintenance, as are regular inspections of tire tread and casing conditions. Comprehensive tire management programs like Bridgestone’s IntelliTire significantly reduce the probability of on-road tire failure and prolong tire life.
How Do Fleet Managers Choose to use Retread Tires vs. New Tires?
Your own scrap pile can help you learn more about what your fleet is encountering on the road and help with prevention and repairs. Understanding why you have taken tires out of service will help you make better choices when buying new or retread tires for your vehicles. The information can be an asset to get more miles out of every tire.
44% of commercial tires in operation are retreads, with 90% of large fleets in the US and Canada using retread tires in some way, so clearly, they are a viable choice when looking to outfit your fleet for operation.
Properly maintained retread tires offer up to 30 % lower cost compared to new tires, for similar performance, mileage and performance comparable to that of new premium tires at a fraction of the cost, and reliability and performance similar to new tires.
Knowing your fleet and tracking your tire maintenance and usage are your best tools to choose the right option between retread tires vs. new tires.
Find a Bandag dealer to help you make the right choice to minimize downtime and maximize your fleet's cost efficiency and safety.