Tires are one of the largest operating costs for independent owner-operators and fleets alike. While drive tires last a while, steer tires tend to wear out much faster. Steer tires are the most important tires on a truck, and can hurt your pocketbook if they aren’t maintained properly.
Retreadability can save you money by reusing your existing or old tires. The cost of a retreaded tire can be anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent less than the cost of new tires by a leading brand, which translates to millions of dollars in savings for professional drivers everywhere.
A well maintained steer tire can be retreaded for the trailer position, which adds miles onto its lifespan. While the right way to replace tires is different for every driver, a good starting point is finding the right tire fitment.
Utilizing Your Assets to Find the Right Fitment
The first step toward finding the right fitment for your rig depends on the application. Once you determine how your tires will be used, the proper fitment can be selected.
Tires are designed with specific compounding ratios based on how they are being used, with different tread designs and patterns for specific applications, such as local, regional and over the road.
For example, you wouldn’t want to use urban tires on a long-haul vehicle. A heavy application ply tire that’s expected to run for long periods of time at highway speeds is more susceptible to heat build-up, which can jeopardize the integrity of the tire. This is why it’s so important to consider application when fitting tires.
Another way to determine which tire will best suite your rig is by reviewing old tires that have run through the fleet.
Inspecting a tire inside and out can reveal a lot about its condition and if that tire was the proper choice for that application. You can often see a story develop by examining a tire’s history of air inflation, damage from debris or obstruction and manufacturer warranty conditions.
By the time a tire is put out of service, it’s possible that it was retreaded three or more times. Utilizing tire casings is key when trying to save money by retreading. For this reason, knowing when to pull a tire from service is important.
A tire must have a certain amount of undertread in order to give your casing the best running retread possible. Keeping your eye out for wear conditions is a good practice to ensure that your tires are not too worn to be retreaded.
Trends in the Marketplace & Cost per mile
Some fleets today are opting for a cheaper, imported tire versus retreading their old ones. Whether or not that might be the right direction for you ultimately depends on the application and cost per mile.
Have you saved any money by running on a cheaper tire? Did the tire meet your expectations with regard to cost and retreadability? These are important questions to ask yourself when thinking about cheaper imports versus retreads. Although choosing a cheaper, imported tire may save you money up front, not having the ability to retread in the future could hurt your pocketbook overall.
When making that decision, don’t forget about your cost per mile. In order to determine the true cost per mile, a driver must understand that the price of the tire is not the same as the cost of the tire. The cost per mile is determined by tracking the difference in removal to mount miles using a calculation that factors in acquisition price.