Can You Retread Car Tires? (And Should You?) – SOLVED

Tires are a very important piece of equipment that enables your vehicles to maintain traction and handling. They also help the brakes to bring you to a safe and controlled stop.

The potentially high cost of some tires raises the issue of whether or not retreads might be a suitable alternative to buying a new set.

The following helps to clarify the matter.

Can You Retreads Tires Yourself?

Tire retreads are legal in virtually every state. The respective state laws can be confusing and lead many to conclude that retreads are illegal. They are not. But they can be very cost-prohibitive for most vehicle owners.

Can I retread my own tires?

If you have the correct equipment, tools, and supplies, it might be possible to retread your own tires. But it would be very cost-prohibitive. And you likely do not have the experience or skills needed to do the job right.

It could be very dangerous for individuals to try to retread their tires. It takes a lot more than some rubber adhesive and a new strip of tire tread to make it happen.

And most people would be very wary of allowing virtually anyone to try to retread their tires and then use them to drive on public roads. That could make driving a vehicle with retreads very dangerous.

Theoretically, you could retread your own tires. But in purely practical terms, that would be nearly impossible to do.

You would need access to the appropriate equipment and supplies needed to retread the tires. And you would need to locate the spare tread to mount to your tires.

Even if you have access to equipment, finding a suitable replacement tread could be impossible. Odds are a tiremaker will not provide you with just the tread. But it will sell you a new tire at a good price that would negate the need for a retread.

How exactly do you retread tires?

Applying a new treat to a tire is not a simple task. It requires very close inspection to determine if a tire is suitable for a retread. And then you need to have the right tools and equipment to do the job right.

Anything less than professional-quality work on a retread makes the tire especially vulnerable to failure.

And a tire failure could make you liable for causing an accident.

A tire retread involves much more than simply gluing a new tread into place. The simple explanation regarding how you retread tires is:

  • Remove the old layer of tread from a worn tire.
  • Inspect the casing for signs of damage or weakness.
  • Determine which tires are capable of accepting a retread.
  • Apply the new tread and cure it.

The process is done by fully equipped tire remanufacturing facilities and uses special equipment.

Do people retread car tires?

Individual owners of cars generally do not retread their own tires. That would be virtually impossible to do without the right equipment, training, and experience to properly retread a tire.

The vast majority of retread tires are used on commercial and specialty vehicles that have multiple sets of tires. The additional tire helps to support the retread and gives you a bit of additional safety against a sudden tire failure.

But when a car tire is a retread, there is no supporting tire next to it. And the original tire might have had high mileage on it.

A tire with high mileage that wore out the tread will not have the same life expectancy as a new tire. And you would be very wrong to expect anything close to what a new tire would provide you.

You might know someone who has retread a tire for a car. But odds are you and the vast majority of people do not.

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That is because the process is fairly difficult and requires true expertise to do it correctly and produce a reasonably safe retread for use on car tires.

Most tire specialty shops will refuse to retread a tire or mount one to your vehicle. That is because they do not want the liability that goes along with performing a tire retread and mounting it to a private passenger vehicle.

Are retread tires legal in all states?

Retread tires are legal in virtually all states. But most see use on tractor-trailers and especially the trailers.

Retread tires work best on vehicles that have multiple axles and mount two sets of tires on each side. If one tire fails, the one next to it still supports the load.

You likely have driven next to a semi and heard a thumping sound coming from one of its wheels. That also often is the sound of a retread tire that has reached its service limit.

So you legally could mount one or more retreads to your car, but you run a greater risk of a serious tire failure.

You also should contact your auto insurer. It is possible that an insurance policy would exclude retread tires from coverage. If a retread fails and causes an accident, your insurer might deny your insurance claim.

Can you still buy retread tires?

You can buy retread tires, including those for private passenger vehicles. But the cost often is not low enough to make them viable alternatives to purchasing a new set of tires.

A retread tire also uses the old carcass, which could have worn steel belts and weak spots that make it vulnerable to failure. Retreads were much more viable when new tires seldom lasted for more than 20,000 or 30,000 miles.

Many of today’s tires can last for 80,000 miles or more when properly maintained.

Buying one or more retreads would not provide you with the kind of service life that a new tire would.

You also would not benefit from manufacturer warranty protection. A retread is not a tire that is built to last for a specified amount of mileage when maintained correctly. And it would be impossible to estimate a viable amount of mileage.

Another issue is whether or not retreads truly match the tire size needed. You need identically sized tires mounted to the same axle so that they rotate at the same number of RPMs.

A retread would be nearly impossible to match with another tire. So you would run the risk of wrecking the drivetrain on the front or rear drive axle.

And a 4X4 or all-wheel drive needs all four tires to match in size. Mismatched tire sizes could damage the transfer case by causing axles to rotate at different speeds.

Ultimately, the most affordable and best way to replace worn or damaged tires is to buy a matching pair or a full set of four new ones.

That will give you the confidence of knowing the tires should hold up for tens of thousands of miles. But you must keep them properly inflated and maintain them.

How much does it cost to have tires retread?

Paying to retread a tire generally is cost-prohibitive. You most likely do not have the equipment, tools, or materials to do it yourself.

Your best bet for finding retread tires is to buy them from a supplier of retread tires. But the cost savings is nominal.

A retread costs less than a new tire. But it will have maybe half the life expectancy. You might save between 30 percent and 50 percent on the cost of a new tire.

But the reduced life expectancy would negate your savings. So might any liability caused by a tire failure that results in an accident.

How long do retread tires last?

Retread tires do not have the same life expectancy as new tires. You would be lucky to get 20,000 miles out of a retread while a new tire might last for 80,000 miles if you cared for it properly.

Proper care includes keeping all tires at the correct amount of pressure and rotating and balancing the wheels about every 5,000 miles. You need to keep the wheels aligned and do your best to avoid road hazards.

Another factor would be the climate in which you live and how fast you drive.

Heat is the biggest enemy of any tire and especially of a retread. And the faster you drive, the more friction and heat a tire endures.

Those who live in the Desert Southwest or a similarly hot climate and drive on the freeway often are prone to tire failure. And a retread could separate more easily than a new tire and fail while you are driving at freeway speeds.


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