Passenger vehicles: tread carefully
According to Bridgestone, passenger vehicles shouldn’t be fitted with retreaded tyres as these units have to withstand high speeds and dynamic loads. Desirée van Niekerk, the company’s PR manager, adds: “Passenger cars are expected to provide good road holding and braking, as well as provide safety and comfort when travelling at freeway speeds.”
Retreading (the process where tyres are given a new lease on life by bonding a new tread to it) isn’t the only practice that’s unsuited to passenger vehicles … regrooving is very dangerous as well. (Regrooving is used in tyres that have been designed with an extra tread base, allowing new tread to be cut once the original has worn off. It is, however, really dangerous to regroove tyres that weren’t designed for this, including passenger tyres.)
Bridgestone points out that regrooving and retreading are fleet management strategies that are typically used to increase the service life of tyres fitted to heavy vehicles. These tyres, however, shouldn’t be fitted to a vehicle’s steering axle.
“The steering axle is a critical axle where tyre failure is potentially deadly,” explains Van Niekerk. “A properly made retread, on a heavy-vehicle tyre, is extremely reliable in practice, but one always wants the peace of mind of a new tyre on the front axle.”
She continues: “A tyre carcass on a heavy vehicle eventually reaches the end of its life and can no longer be retreaded. The carcasses of passenger tyres are not, however, designed to travel several hundred thousand kilometres. Even an initial retreading comes with an increased risk of tyre failure.” Van Niekerk adds that a retreaded tyre also cannot be guaranteed to comply with the speed and load rating of the original tyre.
There are, however, ways to reduce tyre costs over the lifetime of a passenger car – as Bridgestone points out. This includes ensuring that tyres are always correctly inflated and using the correct driving style; such as avoiding harsh braking, heavy cornering and sudden acceleration.
“Good driving and tyre maintenance habits can increase tyre life by up to 30 percent and, in many cases, this can offset the cheaper cost of retreads,” says Van Niekerk. “Safety remains the top issue, however. Retreaded tyres are a good choice for heavy vehicles, but not for passenger cars.”