With summer upon us and more people traveling the highways and byways of this great land, it must be time to mention tires. How many times have you driven down the highway and see the curly strips of rubber along side the pavement (or on it?) Those are re-caps. The big ones that are so prevalent, especially in the summer, come from truck tires, or trailer tires to be more precise.

What is a re-cap?

Well, it is an old tire that has had new tread glued to it so it can be used again. Ordinarily, re-caps aren’t sold as new, at least by reputable dealers. But if you buy a used car, it may well have them and you’ll never know until you lose one. That’s not a good time to find out, trust me! Unfortunately, you can look at tires all day and not be able to tell if one is a re-cap or not. When driving, especially in the summer, the glued on surface gets hot and loosens and comes off, usually at the speed limit. Its very scary, not to mention dangerous.

Tractor/trailer rigs often run re-caps because they’re cheaper than buying new tires, especially when a truck takes 18 of them! They seldom run re-caps as steering tires, but all other 16 are fair game. When driving beside or behind a big rig, keep an eye on his tires, the re-caps will usually flap for awhile before flying off. They’re not nice to be hit with, trust me!

There’s one other tire problem you should be aware of. Re-treaded tires. These are even more dangerous than re-caps, because they don’t last nearly as long and have a nasty habit of exploding. A re-treaded tire is just an old tire with very little rubber left that had been re gouged in all the right grooves so it looks new. Then it’s painted black so the cords don’t show. These are also sold as new by some unscrupulous dealers.

There are a few things you can do to keep from getting stuck with re-caps or re-treads. First, when buying new tires, be careful where you go. Use a store with a good reputation and buy name brand tires from them. If you buy a used car, try to find out where the tires came from and who put them on. A private owner should know about the car he’s selling, and a car lot will have records if they changed the tires. Avoid sales that sound too good to be true from a store you don’t know anything about. Small tire stores and gas stations are often offered incredibly cheap tires and sell them as new, not knowing whether they might be re-caps or re-treads.

Your tires are too important to take foolish chances.

Spend a little more if you have to and get tires you can be sure are really new and not re-caps or re-treads. If you have to replace the old tires one at a time, it’s better than a blow out at 55 mph, isn’t it?

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