MONTREAL, Que. – The Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB) was at Salon-Cam Logique last month to raise awareness about the benefits of retreading tires.
Harvey Brodsky, managing director of TRIB, says the retreading process has evolved much like the personal computer, offering improved reliability and performance.
“Remember when your computer crashed three times a day?” he asked at a seminar on retreads, adding today’s retreads perform as well as the best new tires.
“Retreading has evolved into a very sophisticated, high-tech business,” Brodsky said, noting there are fewer but larger retread plants in North America today.
New machinery that performs an MRI of sorts on casings can now be used to determine whether a casing is suitable for retreading.
“We can look through the walls of the tire to see if there are any separations,” said Brodsky.
“We give the tire an MRI to see if the tire is suitable for its next life. If it is, we proceed, and if not we stop it right there. This is something we were never able to do before.”
But despite improvements in retread processes, Brodsky admitted not all fleets are convinced. He says many fleets mistakenly attribute the gators that can be seen littering roads to retreads when they are just as likely to be new tires.
Improving tire maintenance practices can improve tire reliability, whether it’s a retread or a brand new tire, he said.
“Much of the rubber on the road comes from new tires that were overloaded, under-inflated or not maintained,” said Brodsky. “The more a trucker knows about how to maintain his tires, the better it is for our industry.”
He said every driver should use a properly-calibrated tire gauge to check tire pressures. Thumping them with a hammer will not suffice, he said.
“If you think you can tell how much air is in your tire by thumping it, you might as well thump the hood of your truck to determine if your engine needs oil,” said Brodsky. At trade shows such as Salon-Cam Logique, the organization used to challenge drivers to guess a tire’s pressure by thumping it with a hammer. The exercise has recently been stopped as too many drivers were embarrassed in front of their peers when they were shown to give a passing grade to tires with as little as 45 psi.
Instead, Brodsky suggests drivers perform ‘the dirty hand test’ each day.
“They walk around and run their hand over the tread of every tire,” explains Brodsky. “Your hand will tell you if there’s an anomaly. Your hand gets dirty, but so what? You can clean your hands.”
Brodsky also stressed fleets and owner/operators should regularly check their trucks’ alignment and rotate tires.
“Look at a three-axle alignment as an investment,” he urged.
Finally, he issued some advice for folks who are looking for a reputable retreader. Brodsky has an unorthodox way of evaluating a retreader – he takes a trip to the washroom and examines it for cleanliness.
“I want to see what condition that bathroom is in, how do they treat their employees?” he explained.
“You can tell a lot about how good a retreader is by how they treat their employees.”
Any reputable retreader should welcome you into its facility for a tour, said Brodsky.
“Good retreaders are very proud to show you their plant. If they say their insurance does not allow visitors, what they’re really telling you is you should find another retreader.”
Once inside, he said to take a look around and see how clean it is.
“Does the retread plant look like a pig pen?” he asked. He also suggested asking a retreader what its adjustment rate is – the percentage of times the retread is returned with a problem. It should be under 1% if it’s a top quality retreader, Brodsky said.