What's That Rubber on the Road?
Whenever we see tire debris alongside the road and highway we jump to the conclusion that it comes from retreaded tires.
This assumption is wrong, according to the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), a non-profit, member-supported industry association dedicated to the recycling of tires through retreading and repairing, and to promoting proper tire maintenance for all tires.
In point of fact, most tire debris is caused by improperly maintained tires.
"While tires fail and come apart for many reasons, the main cause is underinflation, whether the tire is new or a retread," says Harvey Brodsky, TRIB's managing director.
When a tire is underinflated, most of the vehicle's weight is concentrated on the tread located just under the sidewalls, instead of being spread out evenly across the full width of the tire, he explains. This results in an uneven, irregular and inconsistent tire footprint (that portion that contacts the road surface) because the tire doesn't roll as smoothly or as easily as it was designed to.
This affects not only safety, but handling and performance as well. In addition, low inflation also leads to reduced tire miles, reduced retreadability and poor fuel economy.
"Tires are almost too good of a product," Brodsky observes. "Most people ignore them altogether until they have a problem." But there are steps, he points out, that motorists can - and should take - at least on a monthly basis to prevent a problem from occurring in the first place.
1) Check the inflation pressure of your ties with a calibrated air pressure gauge when the tires are "cold" - before the vehicle has been driven more than about one mile. Add air to fill to the proper level of inflation whenever needed.
2) Install value caps on all valve stems and keep them tight.
3) Visually inspect your tires and look for signs of damage or any unusual conditions. If you detect any problems, schedule an appointment with a certified mechanic or tire specialist immediately.
"The safety check only takes a few minutes and is time well spent, particularly if it leads to finding a problem that could have been extremely costly and possibly dangerous if not discovered," says Brodsky. Not only will taking these measures make your vehicle run more efficiently, they will prolong the life of your tires, meaning you don't have to go to the expense of replacing them as often.
"The problem of tire debris alongside the roadways won't go away until drivers start maintaining their tires in a better fashion than they do now," Brodsky asserts. "That is the real cause of the problem, not retreads."
"The evidence regarding the safety, economic and environmental advantages of retreaded tires is overwhelming. Retreads provide the same safety, reliability, performance and handling as tires that have never been retreaded, and they do it at a tremendous savings over the high cost of new tires. For trucki...