Lately I have seen the question of using retreads on motorhomes crop up more frequently. I previously discussed this in February 2012, but it seems we need to revisit the topic.
The technology of retreading tires is well developed and when properly done the owner of the retread tire can expect more miles of problem-free usage. The key is "PROPERLY DONE," and "more miles" but not more months.
The process of retreading really has two separate components. One is inspection and the second is the re-vulcanization of tread wearing rubber onto the previously used carcass.
The second step is relatively straightforward with new tread rubber being applied and cured to the carcass. I included a video at the end of the post for those interested in the details.
The problem area and technically more difficult part of the process is the complete and proper inspection of the carcass and the preparation of the carcass for the process of applying the new tread wearing rubber. In my opinion this is where most problems or mistakes occur.
The type tire and its service plays a major part of its "retreadability". In general car tires may be retreaded one time, some Light Truck tires once, Truck tires one to three times, and aircraft tires up to 12 times.
Why such a large difference? The primary reason is the service and maintenance a tire receives in its first life. Tires for aircraft usage do not have pot-holes or road trash to contend with and have tight control on the load and speed limits they are expected to operate under. They do not get driven over curbs and they are maintained by trained and licensed mechanics per published service schedules.
It is well documented that as a group, RV tires are more likely to be overloaded and or underinflated than any other type of tire. Also maintenance is not always done in a timely manner or with properly trained service personnel. The end result of this is that the carcass and belt components are much more likely to have been damaged during their first life. This damage is hard to detect without the use of expensive equipment such as X-Ray and Holographic or "Sherographic" examination similar to what we see in this video.
While all the above provide some information, the more fundamental issue on why RV tires do not get retreaded is the age of the rubber itself. In the normal process of retreading we are just replacing tread rubber that has been worn off rapidly due to high mileage or, in the case of aircraft tires, high rate of wear. These tires are usually worn out in a year or two.
Many RV owners know that tires have a limited life with different applications, generally being limited to 3 to 7 years with a suggested max of 5 to 10 years service depending on the specific type of tire and service.
I believe that those asking about retreading the tires on their RV are simply assuming that it is the tread rubber that is the only part of the tire that is getting old and are maybe thinking that with a retread they will be getting a few years more "life" from their tires. The reality is that it is the rubber around the steel belts that is of most concern for having over-age rubber, and this rubber is not replaced during the retread process.
Unless you drive your RV 100,000 miles and wear off the tread in a year or so, the idea of retreading will not gain you tire life. After a more normal 50,000 to 70,000 miles in 5 to 7 years, the carcass has been exposed to too many pot-holes, too much UV and Ozone, and too many curbs to be damage-free either on its surface or in its structure. While it may be possible to replace the tread of the tire, the clock for the max life of the tire does not reset when you simply replace the wearing surface of the tire, or even if you do a "full cap," which covers the aged sidewall and tread.
Background info HERE
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