Man standing in front of a tire buffing machine

What is Retreading?

Retreading is the process whereby selected and inspected worn tires, called “casings,” receive a new tread.

Only carefully inspected tire casings that satisfy established standards are used for retreading. The worn tread is buffed away, and a new tread is bonded to the tire body in a process very similar to the manufacture of a new tire. The buffings are reused by tire-derived product manufacturers and installers of various applications. There are different processing techniques, but the ultimate objective is always the same – affixing a new tread through the application of heat, time and pressure.

Tire retreading is an established industry that began in the early 1900s and grew steadily. Today, there are approximately 700 retread plants throughout North America and 38 in California. These plants vary in size, from small operations producing 20 retreaded tires per day to very large plants processing 1,000 or more retreads per day. Additionally, some plants retread only specialized tires such as those for off-the-road, farm, and construction equipment. Altogether, these plants retread millions of tires a year, using millions of pounds of synthetic and natural rubber. This represents over $3 billion in retread tires sold annually.

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Man standing in front of a tire retreading machine

Why Retread?

Most trucking fleets, airlines, bus fleets, construction companies, and farmers purchase retreaded tires for one basic reason – to save money.

A retreaded tire cost less to produce than a new tire and sells for less –of the comparable new tire price. By using retreaded tires, the commercial and military aircraft industries save more than $100 million a year. Retreading truck tires saves the trucking industry over $3 billion each year.

Why are retreaded tires such a good value? Most of the manufacturing cost of a new tire is in the tire body or casing. The tread (the portion of the tire that meets the road) represents only a small percentage of the new tire cost. Today’s commercial truck tires are specifically designed to provide multiple tread lives over the life of the casing. Research has shown that retreading a premium tire two times can keep that tire on the road up to 500 percent longer than low-cost single use tires available on the market today that are not suitable for retreading.

Is Retreading Green?

Yes, by reusing resources over and over, retreading offers several important environmental benefits and can help companies meet their sustainability goals and advance the circular economy for tires.

First, retreading conserves oil. The manufacture of a new medium truck tire requires approximately 22 gallons of oil, but it takes only seven gallons to retread. Every year in North America, the use of retreads saves hundreds of millions of gallons of oil.

Second, millions of tires that would otherwise be disposed of prematurely in landfills continue their useful lives as retreads for thousands of more miles.

Finally, retreading has positive impacts on all areas of the environment, including reducing CO2 emissions natural resource extraction, water consumption, air pollution, and the land required to produce natural rubber.

Are Retreads Safe?

Yes. The safety and reliability of retreaded tires has been studied at least six times over the past two decades, and each study has concluded that retreads are just as safe as new tires.

Only quality tires that pass rigorous multi-point inspections are used in the retreading process. All retreaders adhere to stringent industry recommended practices at every step of the retreading process. Most retread plants in North America and elsewhere are franchised, licensed, or otherwise affiliated with major brand suppliers who provide equipment, technical assistance, and manufacturing requirements to ensure a reliable product is produced.

Retreaded tires are used safely every day on airplanes, school buses, fire engines, ambulances, trucking fleets, taxis, Postal service vehicles, and military vehicles. Retreaded tires in all applications, from passenger cars to heavy construction equipment, have consistently demonstrated the same reliability in operation as new tires. Many trucking fleets plan their new tire purchases with the intention of having their worn casing retreaded two or more times as a routine part of their tire budgets. Today, in North America, there are as many retreaded commercial truck tires in operation as there are new tires manufactured.


Disclaimer: Product benefits and standards testing and documentation may vary according to specific products and vendors. CalRecycle makes no warranty, express or implied, and assumes no liability for the information provided in this website. References to individual businesses and their commercial products do not constitute an endorsement by CalRecycle. The information contained in this website is not complete, and is provided as a convenience to our website visitors and for informational purposes only.

Fore more information, please contact Noel Davis, (916) 341-6341.

For more information contact: Tire-Derived Products,