Talked with Larry Tucker recently, the commercial tire marketing manager for Goodyear Tire & Rubber, about his company's DuraSeal product -- the self-sealing material that keeps truck tires inflated and ready to roll even if speared multiple times by nails and other road debris through the tread.
This isn't new -- DuraSeal has been out for two years now -- but from what I am seeing much of the trucking community isn't taking advantage of it. Now, you can get your own self-sealing liquids injected into your tires easy -- and probably at a lot lower cost, too -- but the big, big advantage with DuraSeal that I see is it can be retreaded, whereas the do-it-yourself sealers can't.
You see, tire retreaders won't take tires in that have been injected post-sale with self-sealers because those materials are extremely flammable -- meaning they explode in the final-stage curing process. And as Tucker told me, "You never want to see a curing chamber fire, or even be near one."
Keeping a tire's retreadability, if you will, while still getting self-sealing tread over multiple tire life cycles is a huge benefit to fleets. Avoiding road calls for flats is a big deal, too, because towing fees are not cheap and the cost of downtime in this day and age is even worse.
Now, Tucker told me the fleets best suited for DuraSeal tires obviously remain those that get exposed to road debris more frequently, such as vocational, off-road, waste, and construction fleets. For the guys running linehaul on highway routes every day, the payback may not be as apparent.
But I tell you that may not be true anymore. My wife ran over a couple of roofing staples out on the road the other day -- an example that the nice, supposedly debris-clear highways just ain't so anymore. Luckily for me, we limped her car to our nearby repair shop before the tire went totally flat, but it was a day of downtime for us to get it fixed. That kind of downtime costs fleets a lot of money. So there may be more payback in self-sealing tires for linehaul operators than at first meets the eye.
And finally, any chance to talk with Larry is one you should take -- he's an off-road enthusiast that has tons of great tales to tell, with a bottomless well of tire knowledge to boot. You just can't beat that combination.