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Commercial Tires

Retreads Remain Even as Tier 3 Tires Gain

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As fleets have come to realize the importance of a tire’s overall lifetime value – total cost versus up-front price – the purchase of high-quality new tires that can be used multiple times as retreads remains prevalent.

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While the overall truck tire and retread market is roughly split 50/50, the prevalence of retreads as trailer tires can, in some instances, be higher than other axle positions, notes Prosser Carnegie, commercial tire brand management for Continental Tire the Americas.

When it comes to selecting new or retreaded tires for steer, drive and trailer positions, each fleet has a different philosophy based on different needs.

“All fleets buy differently; some actually buy all new trailer tires and then retread them for the drive axle,” Yokohama Tire Corp. sales vice president Rick Phillips explains. “Others will do just the opposite because that works best for them. A lot depends on the application and how fast the tires wear out.

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“Even after the tire is retreaded and moved to the trailer position, the casing is still an asset for the fleet that could possibly be retreaded again and put back into service.”

Echoing that sentiment, Goodyear’s Buckham says, “Some long haul fleets will pull tires that have reached certain tread depths off of their steer and drive axles and transfer them to the trailer position in an effort to economize. Others will retread steer tires and move them to the drive position and retread drive tires and move them to the trailer position. Some fleets prefer to buy new trailer tires outright and sell their used casings for credit.”

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“It is difficult to blanket all fleets under a given strategy, as each employs methods that suit its business model most efficiently,” says Carnegie, adding, “We have to ensure that all our products can support and benefit them in each and every case.”

Lower Cost Imports

One recent trend threatening the retread market is the influx of low-cost import tires.

“There is definitely an influx of cheaper products hitting the market and the low price is certainly getting attention,” Phillips says. “These brands have gained some wheel positions over purchasing a cap and casing, but they can’t really stand up to the total lifecycle of a quality product that delivers more original tread life and consumes less fuel – and still offers multiple retreads on that same casing.”

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He adds that while acquisition cost may be lower on these products, the total cost of ownership is lower with a premium product – a fact dealers may need to remind fleets.

The lure of a “brand-new” tire versus a “used” tire, combined with the lower price tag, has resulted in budget imports taking some volume away from the retread market, according to Carnegie.

“This is a definite misconception regarding retreads,” he adds. “The history of retreading extends almost as long as the development of the pneumatic tire, where fleets have always been interested in extending the life of an ‘asset’ that has been purchased. With a long history and the demands placed by the end user, the technologies in retreading have led to products that give a high degree of performance, reliability and cost-effective solutions equivalent, in many ways, to the new premium and second tier tires.

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“Major manufacturers develop their tires to exceed in performance well beyond the first life of the tire, so that the ‘overall’ performance can be maintained. This is the key to competing with the deluge of low-cost imports, as retreaders and dealers can address the complete value of a premium tire and the subsequent retreads.”

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