Know your tire repairs

We definitely live in the age of surcharges, add-ons, fees and extra charges. When everything goes as planned, the cost is generally close to what was quoted. However, if there's a part that needs to be special-ordered or something out of the ordinary happens, it typically isn't included in the quoted price. In most cases, the charges are warranted because the service provider encountered unseen expenses

We definitely live in the age of surcharges, add-ons, fees and extra charges. When everything goes as planned, the cost is generally close to what was quoted. However, if there's a part that needs to be special-ordered or something out of the ordinary happens, it typically isn't included in the quoted price. In most cases, the charges are warranted because the service provider encountered unseen expenses over and above the normal costs.

Fleets that don't pay attention to their tire and retread invoices are prime targets for morally challenged businesses to pad sales with extra charges for services never provided. It could be something as simple as getting charged for too many new valve stems when there is a “replace as necessary” policy. But a retread program is the most susceptible to unscrupulous tactics because many of the repairs are not easily visible. Understanding the types of repairs and their value is the key to controlling costs.

The most basic repair is the nail-hole repair. This typically requires the retreader to remove the damaged steel in the injury with a carbide cutter, fill the void with rubber, and seal it on the inner liner with a repair unit. It doesn't take a lot of training for the technician, so the corresponding charge is usually small.

When rubber is damaged but steel is not exposed or significantly removed, a spot repair is installed. This requires specialized tools, a fairly well-trained technician, and sometimes includes extra work after the tire has been cured in the chamber. The damaged rubber is skived away and the void is filled with raw rubber. After it cures, it goes back to the repair department so the rubber that is built up can be buffed level with the surrounding area. It's not the best job for a new hire.

As the granddaddy of all repairs, the section repair will always be the most expensive because it involves the most tools, the best technician, and tremendous attention to detail. It's like welding a patch on a propane tank and using it for a backyard barbecue, except the tank has to flex as it bounces from tree to tree.

Section repairs involve removing significant amounts of body cables and in some instances, entire portions of the belt package. A similar repair is called a reinforcement and involves the removal of multiple belt package cables, but not body cables, so the injury doesn't penetrate the inner liner but a large repair unit is still required. Regardless, each individual wire must still be trimmed back to solid rubber. Miss one fret wire, and the repair eventually fails. It takes a rare mix of physical dexterity, craftsmanship and pride to be a good section repair technician so they typicallydemand top dollar.

My advice is to conduct an audit of your next retread invoice so that all of the repairs can be accounted for. Nail-hole repairs will be accompanied by small repair units, typically round or square, and should be located in the middle of the tread area. Most spot repairs will be noticeable by the different texture in the rubber, but those repairs that are under the new tread may not be visible. Section and reinforcement repairs will always be distinguished by larger repair units that can be located anywhere on the sidewall or tread area. An honest retreader will have no problem accounting for every repair.

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