Tires aren't cheap. In fact, they're the third largest expense for most fleets, right behind fuel and labor. So how you manage your tires can have a big impact on your bottom line. One way to save money is to have your tires retreaded rather than buy new ones.

On average, a new truck tire costs between $250 and $350, while a retread costs between $72 and $120. According to the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), retreading saves fleets some $2 billion a year.

However, the key to successful retreading lies in good tire management. Damaged tire casings can't be retreaded, which means you can't save money. TRIB has some suggestions that will help you get more wear out of your new or retreaded tires:

  • Use tire air equalizers to spot under-inflation.
  • Maintain proper inflation.
  • Pull tires when they reach a tread depth of 6/32nds; it will make for better retreads.
  • Dual tires must be the same size; since manufacturers' recommendations are different, check their manuals for tire service data.
  • Align axles when mounting tires.
  • Use premium radials on spread axles.
  • If new tires are properly maintained, they'll give you good life and will be easily retreaded for another cycle of use. Expect to get 120,000 miles out of a new steer tire and 300,000 miles out of a new drive tire before retreading.

Tire maker Michelin also has a few tips on how to keep tires in good working order so you can get your money's worth:

  • Do a visual inspection every time you take a vehicle out. Look for signs of irregular wear in the tread or shoulder, and examine the tire for bubbles or bumps caused by foreign objects or air infiltration.
  • If you notice deep cracks, cuts or other major problems during the inspection, don't operate the vehicle.
  • Check tire air pressure daily.
  • Check the owner's manual to determine the precise air pressure; take into account the weight of the vehicle, as well as what the pressure should be under a standard load.
  • Never weld or apply heat to parts of the wheel near the tire. In addition to causing serious tire damage, heat can also cause them to explode.
  • Store tires in a cool dry place away from direct exposure to sunlight to reduce premature aging. Don't expose them to ozone sources such as arc welders and mercury vapor light bulbs. Store tires upright on the tread; stacking them can weaken the tires on the bottom.
  • Flat straps are recommended for lifting tires, since steel slings and chains can cause abrasions. Avoid lifting tires with a crane hook through the center, as this can damage the critical bead area.