Retreads save fleets money, outlast new tires.
Emery LaPoint is not talking trash when he says the city of San Antonio will save almost half a million dollars this year by using retreaded tires on garbage trucks and other vehicles in its fleet.
LaPoint, fleet maintenance and operations administrator in San Antonio’s purchasing and general services department, says he has a total of 448 trucks — requiring 50 — 60 retreads a week — running on the recycled tires. He projects his savings by retreading will be about $475,000 this year.
One concern about retreads is the sacrifice of length of service for cost effectiveness. But LaPoint says, “I actually get between 10 and 20 percent more wear out of a retread than I get from the original tread on a new tire. There is just something about the rubber compound they use that helps us get extra life.”
Amos Taylor, tire shop crew leader, agrees. “With the dense rubber they put on the retreads, we actually have less downtime due to flats,” he says “In the hostile environments the trucks must perform in, like landfills, reducing downtime as the result of less flats is very important to our operational readiness.”
LaPoint says San Antonio has used retreads since the late ’60s. His present supplier, Treadco, Ft. Smith, Ark., uses a process designed by Bandag, Muscatine, Iowa.
LaPoint realizes that maintenance is a key factor in the kind of service he gets from his tires. All of his trucks cross the inspection lane on a weekly basis. At that time, an air pressure gauge is put on all tires to make sure they are properly inflated.
Retreaded tires average about three retreads per casing, with some casings making it to even the fourth and fifth retreading. “I pretty much rely on my retread supplier to make that determination,” LaPoint says. “We both benefit when we can get an extra retread from a casing. On the other hand, he doesn’t take any chances.”
In addition to the financial benefits of retreading, LaPoint says the recycling benefits also are a plus.
A number of city and county governments are beginning to see those advantages as well. Hennepin County (Minneapolis) has been using retreaded truck tires for more than 15 years and presently uses them on about 80 maintenance trucks. The county also is considering using retreads on its fleet of 150 non-emergency light trucks.
“Since that retread delivers the same dependability and service, we don’t purchase new truck tires for our drive-axle wheel positions unless we run short of retreadable casings,” says Barbara Sutey, administrative services manager for the county’s public works department.
Stringent maintenance and air pressure inflation standards in the shop help assure the maximum amount of retreadable casings. Truck operators also check their tires at the beginning of each shift.
While the savings to Hennepin County taxpayers is important, the environmental advantages of retreading are becoming more so. It takes 22 gallons of oil to manufacture a new truck tire, and most of that oil is in the casing. It takes only 7 gallons of oil to retread a tire and, each time, the disposal option is avoided.