Consumer Reports: Can You Re-Tread Tires?

Replacing the tires on any car, truck, or SUV can be an annoying and expensive task. Depending on where you live, you might also need different tires for different times of the year, such as summer tires or winter tires. Does that mean drivers should re-tread tires to save money or time? Consumer Reports says that isn’t the case.

What is a re-treaded tire?

Rows of new tires
Tires stored at a warehouse. Can you re-tread tires? | Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images

While re-treading your tires might seem like an economical choice to extend tire life, but is it safe enough? Consumer Reports says that the process to re-tread a tire means that you take a worn-out tire and apply a new tread to it. This process can extend the life of an older tire but providing a fresh tread. Ryan Pszczolkowski, Consumer Reports tire program leader, says, “This was common back in the day of bias tires when you only got 10k-20k miles out of car tires. Nowadays, virtually all car tires are longer lasting. Radial tire design can last 70,000 or 80,000 or more miles if properly maintained.”

In this instance, Consumer Reports does not suggest re-treading a tire on a passenger vehicle. The reasoning is about the process of re-treading not being up to par. A tire shop would not produce the same caliber of tires that a new tire could provide. A tire produced in a tire factory has been tested to ensure it is safe before going on a car. A re-treaded tire wouldn’t have such rigorous testing.

Consumer Reports does note that with larger tractor tires, these are often re-treaded due to cost. Remember that replacing the tire would likely be less expensive than having to tow the car and replace a tire. Drivers should check the tires regularly and ensure each one has proper tire pressure.

Are re-treaded tires dangerous?

In the process of re-treading a tire aside, tires only have a certain amount of life throughout. If you re-tread a tire and give it more life on the outside, the tire’s core still only has a certain amount of miles left. “Tires get a lot of abuse, and it’s better—and safer—to have a fresh set when the time comes to replace,” Pszczolkowski says. Even if the tread is new, the inside of the tire could be exhibiting decay or wear that drivers wouldn’t be able to see.

Holidays and certain times of year are often good times to purchase tires when sales go on. Many places like Costco, Tire Rack, and other online retailers offer free shipping and discounts. Depending on your location, these retailers will also ship the tires directly to a shop of your choosing to make the process easier.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on tires

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a lot of helpful information about tire safety on the Tire Overview section of the website. There are a few different types of tires drivers can buy. All-season tires are the most general tires. These can handle a variety of road conditions, even mud and snow. Winter tires are the most effective for snow. Summer tires are usually meant for warmer weather conditions and shouldn’t be used in freezing weather conditions or snow/ice. All-terrain tires are used for four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Tires are rated by the U.S. Government in something called the 2016 Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards (UTQGS). This rating is on the sidewall of tires sold in the U.S. The higher the treadwear number, the longer it will take the tires to degrade.

Selecting the right type of tire is also important. Different vehicles will have different weight capacities and stopping abilities. For example, a 2021 Kia Telluride would require a different type of tire than a Toyota Camry. You can check your tires using the NHTSA website to compare different tire features. Be sure to check out your tires throughout the year to stay safe on the roads, and don’t re-tread your tires to extend the tire’s life.

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