The earliest tires lasted less than 1,000 miles of driving. Needless to say, driving conditions were significantly different – roads were not paved, there were numerous hazards that caused blowouts, and the tires themselves weren’t manufactured to last. It made for a bad combination, but from necessity comes innovation, and things changed for the better. Cars hadn’t even been manufactured for a decade, and people were already trying to make the vehicle parts last longer. One method drivers experimented with for extending tire life was to apply several layers of rubber to the tire and wait for it to cure. It wasn’t actually effective, but it led to better methods of tire retreading over time. Today, through continuous innovation and committed industry leaders, retreading has come a long way since those early days.
The truck tire retreading industry really gained traction after the Great Depression, as people sought ways to save money. During World War II, tire rationing further boosted the popularity of retreading. At its peak in the 1970s, there were over 12,000 retreading plants in operation. This number has since decreased to fewer than 800 plants today, though annual tire production has remained relatively stable due to increased automation.
Tire retreading declined from the 1960s to 1990s due to a few different factors. There was an increase in liability litigation and many manufacturers wanted to “play it safe”. On the other hand, some tire retread manufacturers compromised quality to reduce prices and stay competitive when tires from overseas manufacturers, mainly China entered the US market. It was difficult to test retread tires for strength and quality, making vehicle owners and operators wary. Tire retreading was considered a fine craft, practiced only by skilled workers.
Modern retread tires are almost completely manufactured by machines, which changed the tire retreading industry. Machines have the capability to inspect products for quality, manage the production line to ensure conformity to all regulations, and to check for quality performance issues when the tire is finished, well before it hits the road.
Modern retread tires are used across the commercial truck industry, from buses, to tow trucks, all types of commercial vehicles, and even ambulances. Carefully done retreads are just as safe as new tires. Because there have been so many misconceptions about retread tires, the industry is becoming more transparent about their manufacturing process. Fleet owners can come into the factory to see how old, worn-out tires are inspected from start to finish to ensure quality control. At STTC, we make our tire retreading process open. See our casing asset management program to know the specifications that are acceptable for capping your tires.
Tire retreading can save your fleet money by reusing tire assets. With our help, your fleet can achieve the lowest cost-per-mile by managing your tire assets and procuring high quality retreads. Not only will you save money, but you will be more environmentally friendly and reduce your company’s carbon footprint in the process. Here’s how: It takes 20 gallons or more of oil to manufacture one new tire. A retread tire takes only 7 gallons! Plus, tire caps get reused, instead of going into landfills.
Tire retreading is more viable than ever before. Give us a call now at 610-954-8473 or contact us online to discuss tire retreading within your fleet.
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