They laughed at me in Europe when I told them we covered truck tires at WildSnow.com. But blog readers didn’t laugh (at least for the most part) when back in 2008 we tested environmentally friendly and supposedly wallet preserving retreads from Treadwright.
Though I was happy with my first try at using retreads, I made the mistake of only buying four tires. When one was damaged, I couldn’t replace it (due to Treadwright discontinuing that tread design) and thus ended up with a mis-match. That was ok for the old gaser Silverado, but the newer 2009 Duramax is overall more sensitive to tire diameter discrepancies — to the point that if you delay rotating your tires and pair a more worn meet with a newer tire, you get weird behavior such as the truck tending to stay in power mode longer and the steering feeling stiff (not to mention the rear posi diff needing tires of the same diameter to work properly).
Not a big deal, as buying 5 tires gives you a compatible spare you can rotate in to get more overall life for your tire set– that is, if you don’t get lazy about those tire rotations!
The numbers worked out this way: I got five Guard Dog M/T tires from Treadwright. They’re built with a rubber compound they call KEDGE (soft, with walnut shells and glass powder, said to be awesome on ice but makes the tires wear quite a bit faster). Since we use this truck for extreme service on icy and snowy roads, the tires were also purchased as ready for studs, which were installed by the local tire shop who did the mount and balance.
Here is how the numbers worked out:
From Treadwright, the five 265/75 R16 tires totalled to $699.00 including shipping. Having them mounted and balanced here will be an additional $163.00, for a total of $862.00.
From Big 0, an equivalent tire is about $1,250 for five, out the door with studs.
Initially that saves $388.00. Not bad for getting a set of perfectly good and environmentally friendly tires.
The catch? Big 0 will rotate a previous customer’s tires for free, even if the particular tires were not bought from Big 0 (a method of bringing in business), but if you need a balance it’s $14 per wheel. If it’s a Big 0 tire they’ll rotate AND balance for free.
Thus, let’s say I get 35,000 miles out of these 5 snow tires, and rotate every 4,000 miles (yeah, I’m lazy). That’s about 9 rotations. Out of those 9, I’ll probably need a re-balance 4 times, meaning I’ll shell out another $224.00 for balancing, making the total cost of running the Treadwrights is $1,086, for a savings of only $164.00 over a Big 0 brand tire with free balancing.
Whew, not that great in the end, kind of embarrassing really, considering I could have gotten a totally new set of tires for just $164.00 over the cost of the Treadwrights.
Consolation prize? I’m betting these are super grippy snow and ice tires, perhaps better than anything I can get at our local tire shops. But mostly, I AM green, baby. Treadwright claims that their tires “save up to 70% of the oil and materials needed to make a new tire.”
Summary of bummer: Treadright claims “You can …save 50% or more over the price of a truly comparable new tire.” In my case not even close, but we’ll take the green benefit and the small money savings in return for the fun of experimenting with these tires Perhaps better deals exist for mounting, studding and rotations so some of you out there could still come out way ahead. And I’ll admit, I wish this would have worked out better…
(Note, retread tires get a bum rap. You can find a number of websites with stories about failed retreads. What such websites fail to explicate is if the failed tires were a. underinflated for their load or rating, b. running with exceeded load capacity, c. running over or near their speed rating. While I’ve got a moderate amount of concern about how well our retreads will hold up, I’m not overly worried about a catastrophic failure any more than I worry about my OEM tires. In fact, no matter what tire we run I know it’s my job to make sure they’re inflated correctly for whatever load I’m hauling, and inspected frequently. Also, I’ll be honest here and if we do have some sort of failure that seems unusual it’ll be reported immediately.)
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.