Retread tyres (also known as recaps and remoulds) have had a bad reputation over the years, with stories of vehicles losing control due to treads separating from the body of the tyre. However, is this necessarily the fault of the retreaded tyre itself, or are there other factors involved?
What is a retread tyre?
Simply put, a retread is a tyre with a previously used carcass that has had new tread wrapped around it. Think of it like a shoe that is still in perfect condition and just needs a new sole.
How are retreads manufactured?
There are various methods of retreading, but first, carcasses must be filtered out to separate the usable ones from the unusable. To do this, the used tyres are carefully tested and inspected for various criteria as well as to ensure its structural quality is still intact.
To prepare the usable carcass, the worn casing is removed and the original tread buffed away to ensure an even surface for the new tread rubber. It then goes through a curing process where the new rubber ‘coat’ is vulcanised to the original casing.
Common methods of retreading include pre-cure, mould cure, and bead-to-bead moulding.
Where are retread tyres used?
Advanced techniques and tools have made retreads a viable option for many transport applications, from fleets, trucks, buses, delivery vans, and even airplanes.
According to the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC), very few passenger tyres are still retreaded in South Africa. However, all major truck tyre manufacturers design their tyres to be retreaded, manufacturing them in such a way that they can have multiple lives.
About 30% of the overall weight of a retread is replaced with new rubber material. Tyres for commercial vehicles such as those mentioned above have a larger mass than those of passenger cars or motorcycles. Retreads allow businesses to achieve better cost per kilometre and optimal returns on their tyre budget.
Did you know?
The use of retreads even extend to ambulances, fire engines, off-road events, endurance races, and racing cars!
It may have been true in the past that retreads are unstable and unsafe especially at high speeds. However, the large strips of tyre rubber left behind on the roads and highways are usually due to tyre abuse (overloading, road hazards) or lack of maintenance (improper inflation, worn tread) to both new and retread tyres.
It’s important to note that not all retreads are created equal. Just as is the case with new tyres, quality and reliability depends on the manufacturer. Therefore, a quality branded retread could perform better than a brand new tyre made by a little known manufacturer.
- Cost saving
- The life of a retread ranges from 50% to 90% of the tyre when it is new, while the cost of retreading is 50% to 40% of the new tyre.
- Material costs are approximately 20% compared to manufacturing a new tyre.
- Commercial tyres, especially in the case of trucks, have a long lifespan and can be retreaded two to three times to reduce maintenance costs significantly.
- Environmentally friendly
- Less dumping on landfill sites that are already straining.
- Lessens the amount of chemicals leaching into the environment.
- Less greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions.
- Old tread can be recycled to make other useful items.
- Resource saving
- Saves on rubber.
- Saves on petrochemicals.
- Saves on energy, using about 20% of the energy used to manufacture new tyres.
- Cheaper retreads may result in some issues such as shorter lifespan and tyre noise.
- Proper maintenance and regular inspection for tyre pressure and tread depth is a must.
Retread tyres have certainly improved over the years. With new developments in tyre manufacturing technologies, stronger tyre casings, and high quality rubber compounds, retreads can go through the retread process more than once and still perform flawlessly.
Good quality retreads like Bridgestone’s Bandag tyres are economical, good for the planet, and perform just as well as a new tyre.
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