No piece of equipment on a motor vehicle can get out of whack more quickly-or with more destructive results-than its pneumatic tires. Even though today's tire is the best ever, there is no magic formula by which it can guarantee maintenance-free service, unlimited treadwear or freedom from accidental damage.
Since the tire is subject to such hazards as curbs, railroad tracks and road debris while in service, it can be made worthless in an instant by injury. Whenever possible, a damaged tire should be repaired-otherwise, it's worthless.
Unnecessary scrapping of tires must be kept to a minimum because far too many are ending up in scrap piles- often at high cost to the user.
In fact, as many as 15 in every 100 tires scrapped due to injury each year could be salvaged if properly repaired, according to the Tire Retread Information Bureau.
This is a needless expense to tire users and represents a poor utilization of petroleum, steel and other finite resources.
The trucking industry, for one, no longer can afford to run only on perfect tires considering that today's repair materials and technology can extend tire life and assure users of the lowest possible cost per mile.
In recent years, U.S. consumers have gotten increasingly concerned with saving energy, the environment and the economy. Fortunately, tire repairing offers a practical answer to each of these concerns.
Imagine the benefit to our environment-and the economy-if all damaged tires were promptly and properly repaired.
If all this is true, why then is so little attention being paid to the use of recommended tire repair methods and materials? Why do so many tires end up in scrap piles that otherwise could be safely repaired? And why is there so much shoddy repair work?
The correct procedures are quite simple. Yet few tire service workers seem to know how to properly repair a puncture; fewer still can successfully repair a major injury that will run without failure.
Far too many damaged tires are simply patched rather than properly repaired-often because service personnel don't have access to repair instructions or simply ignore them. (Instructions belong in the shop-not buried in an office drawer.)
All this occurs despite the fact that most repair material suppliers offer an abundance of educational matter, in-shop instruction and excellent training schools-either free or at nominal cost.
Unfortunately, some workers, unable to take advantage of such training, never were given an opportunity to learn how to properly repair a tire.
Though many dealers say training is important, eight in 10 tire repair workers never have had formal training in their craft.
From the earliest days of the pneumatic tire in the late 1800s, until the late 1920s when the automobile became more commonplace, there was little progress in developing improved tire repair methods and materials.
The first major change in tire repairing came with the development of chemical vulcanization in the mid 1920s. Previously, tire repairs were cured using hot vulcanizing methods.
With the advent of the tubeless tire in the 1950s, the industry's focus changed from repairing inner tubes to repairing tires. A number of suppliers expanded their tire repair product lines and chemical vulcanization received additional new impetus.
Then new problems arose with the increased popularity of the radial tire in the late 1960s and '70s. The different contours and steel belts resulted in thumping problems due to the lack of proper curing equipment, both for retreading and repair.
To solve the problems, Groupe Michelin, which had pioneered radial tire construction in Europe beginning in 1948, assembled a team of field technicians in the U.S. to provide in-shop training to dealers and thereby demonstrate that the radial was easy and safe to repair.
Even so, a lack of proper retreading and repairing equipment suitable for processing radials continued to be a problem in North America.
In Europe, where tire repair technicians are required to be certified, training centers long have been a fact of life. However, few training centers have been successful in the U.S. due to a general lack of support on the part of retreaders and dealers.
Dissatisfied with the number of trainees going through its training center, Northvale, N.J.-based Rema Tip Top/North America Inc. closed its former training facilities and introduced a 48-ft.-long self-contained mobile training unit in 1994. Plans call for adding another such unit to the company's program as well.
Widespread use of radial tires has made the need for proper repair increasingly critical. Tire users look to the industry for repair technology that will save thousands of casings from being scrapped unnecessarily.
Meanwhile, the single greatest cause of retread adjustments is casing failure resulting from improper repairs. This doesn't have to be the case!