TreadWright's Affordable Recycled Mud-Terrain Tire
TreadWright's recycled off-road tires
One of the easiest ways to transform your ride into a more confident trail rig is by adding a set of off-road tires. Factory donut street tires just don’t stand a chance against purpose built rubber. Off-road tires have stronger sidewalls and more traction features engineered into the thread design for tackling off-road terrain. They really are great, with only one pitfall – they are expensive.
When we heard about a new line of affordable off-road tires made using recycled tires, we were skeptical, yet intrigued. At almost 50% less than the suggested retail price of comparable flagship rubber company tires, it’s really hard to ignore what TreadWright is doing. Sure the whole “Going Green” wave is great, but we wanted to know if these tires could take us across our favorite trails and back, or would they just leave us stranded and disappointed? Affordable, recycled and effective they said – so we went in for a closer look.
TreadWright has been in the tire retread business for over 30 years. With beginnings in Colorado as High-Tec Retreading, founder Rick Hawkins grew the business and taught his boys how to do retreads right. For years they focused on fleet and delivery vehicles like mail trucks. Now based in the Black Hills of South Dakota, brothers Joel Hawkins and Rick Jr. have been hard at work developing tires with aggressive mud- and all-terrain thread designs for the Jeep, truck and sports utility owner. They even changed the name of the company to TreadWright to better align with their new direction.
After doing some research and talking to TreadWright, we clarified that these are not simply used tires somebody picked up on Craigslist and is re-listing them to make a buck. They are actually carefully chosen used tires that are re-manufactured with new truck grade rubber featuring off-road tread designs ready to pound pavement and dirt.
TreadWright follows a seven-step process to ensure their retreads are safe for use:
1. They find “gently used” tires of the highest grade. These used tires go through a 17-point inspection before they are accepted.
2. Once the tire is approved, TreadWright buffs the thin top layer of rubber from the tire.
3. A computerized machine wraps a continuous ribbon of new Full Grade Truck Rubber on the tire for the specific mold and tread design the tire will have.
4. TreadWright then computer balances each tire.
5. The tire is "cured" and given a new tread design.
6. Once the tire has cooled, ThreadWright does thorough inspection and testing of the tire to ensure it was made correctly and is safe for use.
7. Tires are then taped and shipped.
TreadWright currently offers over nine different tire thread designs in popular sizes, all remolded in the U.S.A. Feeling a little more confident about these recycled tires, we ordered up a set of TreadWright 315/70R17 GUARD DOG M/Ts to put through the paces.
TREADWRIGHT GUARD DOG
The Guard Dog is TreadWright’s On/Off-Road Maximum Traction tire, developed for pickup truck and sport utility vehicle drivers who want the looks and performance of a rugged off-road tire. Guard Dog combines a uniform center lug pattern for better wear with a wider and more open outer lug pattern for maximum off-road traction. The TreadWright Guard Dog is currently available in 31 to 37 inch diameter for 15, 16, and 17-inch wheels.
For even more traction, TreadWright offers Kedge Grip. Their unique blend of crushed recycled glass and crushed walnut shell particles is blended into TreadWright’s full grade truck rubber. The walnut shell is designed to come out leaving small (approximately 1 mm) size pits in the tread surface that will act as additional siping and create more traction edges to grip the road. The crushed glass is designed to stay in longer and create a gritty surface to help anchor the tire to the road in all weather conditions.
When ordering, we learned that TreadWright retreads are made in batches, so there is some waiting time involved when looking for a specific size. Sometimes, they have them in stock and ready to ship, other times you just need to put your order in and wait for the next batch. We received our Guard Dog tires within tree weeks of ordering them, which is not bad considering we’ve had to wait up to six months for other tires when the rubber companies were on back order.
As soon as those four tires rolled off the FedEx truck, we had them loaded on the Willys trailer and headed over to the local tire shop for mounting and balancing. The Guard Dogs were mounted on 17-inch Mopar Rubicon wheels at Traction Tire in Ramona, CA. The boys took good care of us and had the tires mounted and spinning on the tire balancing machine right away.
There is a special process to balancing retreads. TreadWright recommends the computer be set to the “Static balance” setting when balancing any of their tires. They also recommend putting 1/2 the weight on the inside of the wheel and 1/2 the weight on the outside of the wheel in the 12-o’clock position. This will give the retread the best balance possible since TreadWright pre-balances them using this same method at the factory.
As we left the shop, we noticed some tire rubbing up front when turning the wheels full lock. We had to take care of this wheel backspacing problem before any dirt action could take place. Adding Spidertrax Jeep JK wheel spacers took care of it and even gave the Jeep a little wider stance. See our article on Spidertrax Wheel Spacer for Jeep Wrangler JK.
The larger TreadWright Guard Dog tires were a nice addition to the Jeep. There was actually an improvement to the ride thanks to the larger sidewall. Before adding the 315s, the Jeep was sporting factory 18-inch Mopar Sahara wheels wrapped with 255/70 R18 tires. They were a lot skinnier and had much less sidewall and bite. Driving the Guard Dogs on pavement we did notice a slight increase in road noise, as expected with any aggressive mud-terrain tire, but nothing annoying. We haven’t had any coyotes howl back at us yet so we’re good.
We’ve had the Guard Dogs almost four months now on the Jeep and have logged over 3,000 miles on them. On dirt roads, the Jeep rolls with surefooted traction, stability and control thanks to the larger contact patch. They handle well and track true when rolling down the highway. The tread design on the Guard Dog is aggressive but tame enough to roll on pavement and dirt.
TreadWright uses recycled carcasses from major tire brands like flying blimps and BFF, Gee isn’t that nice. Their sidewalls and casing construction is strong, so that same durability carries over into the Guard Dog. We haven’t noticed any tire retread separation or sidewall problems when airing down. This is good since we are dealing with a bead-to-bead retread. We’re also happy to report no failures or flats on the Guard Dogs as of yet.
Over the rocks, the Guard Dog really bites and grabs beautifully, bringing the vehicle over anything in its way. Having the added Kedge Grip really makes a difference in these situations. It has also proven well on wet surfaces.
In the mud, we found that the tread design on the Guard Dog works well. The higher void found on the outside lug helps give traction in mud, while the uniform center lug helps it float its way through. The Guard Dog cleans out nicely, pushing the mud out and away from the tire.
TreadWright gives the Guard Dog a generous 19/32” of tread. It’s so deep our tread Depth gauge wasn’t long enough to measure a new tire. We had to bust out the ruler to confirm the depth. In the 3,000 miles of mixed driving, the tires have worn an average of 2/32”. We were told by TreadWright that the Kedge Grip wears faster, but boy does it work well. Overall, wearing nicely.
The Guard Dog also does very well in sand and loose dirt driving. We tested them out in Anza-Borrego, weaving through sandy washes and mud hills with nothing but grins. Dropping the air pressure helps in the deeper sand.
We tested the hardness of the tire tread rubber to see if any changes took place after being rolled and used. A new Guard Dog has a Durometer hardness of 66 at ambient temperature of 86-degree Fahrenheit. After running the tires for about 3,000 miles, they did seem to soften up a little, averaging a Durometer reading of 62. That said, they did not deviate more than 10% from their original hardness nor did they become excessively soft. We compared the hardness of the rubber to other leading mud-terrain tires on the market and they were similar.
Overall the ThreadWright Guard Dog has proven to be a good mud-terrain tire. Getting over the fact that it’s a retread has taken some time, but after logging several miles on them with no issues, we’ve gained respect. The fact that they are made in the U.S.A. and meet Department of Transportation (DOT) retread requirements also really helps. Our tire shop made sure they had DOT numbers on them before they would even install them, it’s that important not only for the consumer but also the business owner.
For anyone looking for an affordable mud-terrain tire, TreadWright offers a great product at a very affordable price. When green rubber hits the dirt, it might even make you feel good about what has just happened. Not only did you prevent a set of used tires from going to a landfill, you also saved a boat load of money in the process.
Traction Tires SD