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

Minimum Allowable Tread Depth by US Law

Steering axles

4/32”

Drive axles

2/32”

Trailer axles

2/32”

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

60,000,000

Total Tread Consumed (in 1/32) per Year

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

6000

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

$115 per tire
14 usable 32 nds

$8.21

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

$115 per tire
11 usable 32 nds

$10.45

Annual Cost Using Full Allowable Tread

6000 x $8.21

$49,260

Annual Cost with 3/32 Buffing

6000 x $10.45

$62,700

Yearly Savings with Use of Full Allowable Tread

$62,700 - $49,260

$13,440

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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