Retread sales offset 'flat' tire industry

One bright sales section of the US tire industry, which has been badly hurt by lagging car demand, is retreads. Although not generally advertised or promoted, retreads (recaps) are showing steady sales gains in US shops, service stations, and garages. "This is not new to us," said a West Coast tire industry spokesman. "In recessions or in times of price stress, we always see an inincrease in retread sales."

Retreads are used but sound tire casings that are machine-stripped down to the carcasses and then bonded with new, top-cap rubber compounds. Salesmen are fond of pointing out that some professional racing drivers even prefer retreads because of close carcass inspection -- especially of the tire side- walls.

A recent check of companies selling retreads showed popular sizes are available at about half the prices of new tires and most carry a one-year guarantee.

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