Why Retread Tyres Are a Bad Idea

Are you thinking about fitting retread tyres? The simple advice is: Don't.

I tested retread tyres for Wheels magazine in 2003 in the publication's annual tyre test. It was enough to make me doubt any purported justification for making retreaded tyres legal.

Shockingly, the retreads I tested added almost 10 metres to the length of a wet stop from 100km/h (and three metres from 60km/h). That's about two-and-a-half car lengths at normal highway speeds. It's also almost a car length at 60km/h.

The retread industry is quick to defend its position, stating that retreads are legal (they are) and that legally they must carry the retreader’s name and a speed limitation warning on the sidewall (they do). However, the speed warning is irrelevant to Aussie road speeds – it’s 140km/h.

Tyre industry experts agree retreads are economically irrational anyway, with any saving resulting from the lower price eaten away by low durability, thought to be around a third that of a new tyre. The tyre industry is also offside about retreads because the manufacturer of the carcass remains liable for the carcass despite the fact that the tyre's a retread and it wasn't designed to be retreaded in the first place.

There is a concerning demand in the market for retreads in high-performance tyre sizes like 235/45R17. These are often purchased by young blokes on a budget who want the look but can't afford new performance tyres. “Worryingly, these people think they are still driving on a performance tyre,” said one industry expert, who declined to be named.

These comments on retreading do not relate to truck tyres, which are designed for retreading.