By Phillip Mosier
Tread pattern and the cost of a tire gets a lot of attention from fleet managers running construction trucks, but it’s the casing that is often the unsung hero in a commercial tire.
It’s the foundation of the tire and what allows you to receive multiple retreads. It’s the true driver in lowering your overall cost of ownership. I always advise fleets to look at the tire, then look even closer at the foundation of the tire—the casing.
Retreading tires continues to remain one of the best ways for fleets to reduce tire-related costs. It’s why Cooper spends as much time as it does designing its casings. Cooper’s primary objective is to produce tires that will provide a low cost of ownership, and we believe the quality of our casings plays a large role in helping us achieve that.
With advancements in technology, casing designs and compounding formulas over the years, tires have never been more “retreadable” than they are today. Roughly half the commercial tires on the road are retreads according to the United States International Trade Commission.
DETERMINE CASING QUALITY
One of the best gauges in determining casing quality is the warranty attached to the tire. Twenty years ago, the typical warranty for a commercial tire was about 4 years, with one retread. Today, it’s up to 7 years and multiple retreads, which is what Cooper offers. The warranties you will find are really based on data analysis and the confidence the tire manufacturer has in the casing and the retreadability of the tire.
THE COOPER DIFFERENCE
When Cooper brings a new tire to market, the structural integrity of its tires’ casing is something the company’s engineers watch closely. Roughly 75 percent of what you pay for in a tire is in the casing. At Cooper, we’ve gone with a little wider tire, and thus casing, in our drive and steer positions. That does a couple things. It gives better traction and more miles to removal since there is a bigger footprint, and it gives a wider width in the casing after it’s buffed for retreading. This provides enhanced retreadability potential while supporting premium retread widths that deliver enhanced on-road performance.
The core areas in a casing are the innerliner, sidewall, bead area, and belt package. The best innerliners help lower permeability—or the slow diffusion of air out of the tire. Lightweight steel in the belt package provides further protection to the casing from punctures while allowing for a lighter tire—and weight is always an important consideration for fleets.
Most top tier tires you’ll find on the market feature three or four-steel belt designs. Cooper goes with four belts, which we feel helps the integrity of the tires’ casing. That fourth belt gives an added layer of confidence and protection—especially against stone drilling and punctures—a construction tire’s worst enemy. Avoiding rust inside the tire is the goal and the extra steel belt helps protect the belts below.
While most fleets retread, others don’t. They sell their casings. But, the beauty of having tires with quality casings is that even if you decide not to retread a tire, there is a market for your casing. Retreaders will pay you a pretty penny for your casing as long as it is in good condition. Even if you don’t plan on selling your casings, it’s a good idea to see what a retreader is willing to pay for it. That, right there, will tell you what the quality of the casing is.
Retreaders won’t accept tires that can’t be safely retreaded. And, oftentimes, retreaders will think twice about accepting specific tire brands based on the reputation of their casings. At the end of the day, a retreader is accountable for the tire that they retread, so they aren’t going to retread a tire if they don’t trust the casing.
LONGEST LIFE POSSIBLE
In order to reap the cost saving benefits running retreaded tires can provide, or selling the casing, managing a proper tire maintenance program is just as important.
If your drivers aren’t going through their pre-trip inspections, evaluating the conditions of their tires and consistently checking tire pressure, or the maintenance shop isn’t up to par with rotations and alignments, then the tires’ casing will be more prone to damage. And, if your drivers are especially tough on tires, and you pull tires at the latest 32nds possible, then early failure may occur. If a retreader sees damage to the casing, they’ll declare that tire “unretreadable” and now you no longer hold value in that tire. Common reasons tires are rejected are due to damage caused by running underinflated tires or by overloading them. Driver-related behavior, such as curbing, can also be a contributing factor.
The No. 1 thing you can do to ensure your tires are in good retread condition is to make sure you maintain proper tire inflation levels. It’s by far the most important thing you can do. Under inflation builds heat in the tire and can cause rubber to fatigue and stress quickly. Not only can the tread and belts be negatively impacted by underinflation, but the rest of the casing can show signs of stress when not properly inflated.
ASK A RETREADER
The best way to identify tires with the best casings is by simply asking your local retread shop. Retreaders are at ground zero. They know casing quality and they see first-hand which tires are often rejected for retreading and which boast a high-retread rate.
Getting an unbiased industry expert’s opinion on which tires have the best success retreading is invaluable. They’ll know if the tires you’re currently running have good casings or if there are better options out there.
Once you’ve checked in with your retreader, take a look at the length of warranty of the tires you’re interested in and how many retreads the tire manufacturer will cover. It will give you additional perspective on how many retreads you can expect to receive from a tire.
Built-to-last casings, designed and developed with quality, deliver a lower cost of ownership by providing a sound foundation.
About the author:
Phillip Mosier, Cooper Tire’s manager of commercial tire development, is responsible for the design and development of commercial truck tires for the North and South America regions.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2021
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