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Case Study on the Costs of Buffing

Buffing is the removal of a tire before it is necessary.

Minimum Allowable Tread Depth by US Law

Steering axles


Drive axles


Trailer axles


Annual Cost of Using Full Allowable Tread vs. Buffing

Fleet of 100 trailers—each unit travels 75,000 miles/year

Average trailer tire tread depth from retreader – 6/32”

Assume a cost of retread of $150 less $35 for case (at end) gives you $115 for 14/32” of usable tread

Assume 10,000 miles per 1/32”

If tires are removed at 5/32” (rather than the allowable 2/32”) then 3/23” usable tread (or 21% of the capacity) is lost.

Total Tire-Miles per Year

75,000 miles per year x 100 trailers x 8 tires per trailer


Total Tread Consumed (in 1/32) per Year

60,000,000 tire miles
10,000 miles per 1/32"


Average Cost (per 1/32) of Tread by Using Full Allowable Tread

$115 per tire
14 usable 32 nds


Average Cost (per 1/32) of Tread when Buffing 3/32 of Usable Tread

$115 per tire
11 usable 32 nds


Annual Cost Using Full Allowable Tread

6000 x $8.21


Annual Cost with 3/32 Buffing

6000 x $10.45


Yearly Savings with Use of Full Allowable Tread

$62,700 - $49,260


Other considerations of buffing usable tread:

  • The last few 32nds of a worn tire actually last longer than the first few 32nds.
  • The MPG increases as the tire wears—with less rubber there is less rolling resistance.

Tip from  Basics of Fleet Maintenance by Joel Levitt

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