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General Articles - Product Reviews

High-Tec Retreads Revisited

Article written by Cheaper Jeeper

Date Added: 05/30/2006

After hearing so many people rave about the 31" High-Tec Retreads, and being the cheap so-and-so that I am, I decided to try out the High-Tec 33" (285/75/16D Mud) Retreads.

Not wanting to hack the fenders of my Cherokee (XJ) or spend the big bucks for a set of aftermarket fender flares I decided on a fairly narrow 33 in the 10.50" range and not the traditional 12.50" width. 33X12.50 tires generally won't fit up inside the wheel wells of an XJ.
Notice the tread pattern of these tires closely mimics that of the Dunlop Radial Mud Rover. It would appear High-Tec modifies the tread pattern just enough to avoid having any legal entanglements with Dunlop, but the overall similarity of the two is quite obvious.
A closer look at the tread pattern shows that it has very open lugs on the sides with approximately 3/4"-1 1/4" gaps between them and every other lug is "scalloped". The rest of the voids between lugs in the center of the tread vary between 1/4" and 3/4".
Tread depth was a nice uniform 16/32nds.
These are not your father's retreads!

Aside from a few small air bubbles on the lugs, there were no blemishes and the tread looked perfectly molded. The donor carcasses were four Les Schwab Wild Country RVTs. Once mounted the tires balanced very well and consistently - each one requiring only 2-3 ounces of weight. In comparison, the 235/85/16 Coopers (32's) that I was replacing took approximately the same amount of weight to balance - and they were new tires measuring almost an inch and a half smaller in diameter and two inches narrower!

In my opinion this says a lot about the quality of High-Tec's retreading process. The only retreads I purchased in the past took massive amounts of weight to balance and they were so out-of-round / lopsided that they practically loped down the road. Even the Les Schwab sales representative, who mounted the tires for me, made a comment on how well they balanced with minimum run-out.

Mounted on the 7" rims and inflated to 32 psi, the tires actual measurements are 33.25" diameter with a 10.5" cross section and a 9" tread width. Perfect for stuffing up into the narrow wheelwells of an XJ!

**note: I had these mounted on 7"x16" steel KJ rims. The minimum rim size recommended for these tires is 7.5", but since they will see 90% off-road use, the 7" wide rim is acceptable, in this case - maybe even preferred for it's ability to hold a bead better when aired down.

Road Test

On New Year's day I went to the infamous Elbe Hills area for a wheeling trip. This trip included driving approximately 60 miles each way on paved roads. The on-road manners of these retreads really impressed me. Great wet-weather traction, no wobbling or out-of round feel - just smooth ride, and good handling. For such an aggressive tread they are surprisingly quiet - certainly a lot quieter than my Cooper STTs ever were! Up to around 40 or 45 mph the noise level is very comparable to that of your average AT tire. Above 45 mph or so the tread noise becomes more noticeable, but it is more of a high pitched howling than the low bass thrumming that I got so used to with my old Coopers. The sound is 50% louder and very similar to that of the 31" Wild Country LTs I run for daily driving. This higher pitched sound blends in more with the wind noise and doesn't penetrate the body of the vehicle the way that the lower bass-tones do. Overall what noise they do make is less noticeable - and less irritating.


Off-road performance is positively stellar!

If you're not familiar with the great Northwest, January in the Cascade Mountains is anything but dry. Deep sloppy mud, rocks, logs, stumps, tree roots and even a little snow are the norm. These retreads seemed to handle everything I could throw at them with aplomb - and with no damage. I really can't wait to try them out on the slickrock of Moab.

Final Thoughts

The rubber compound used by High-Tec seems to be just a little bit softer than most of the tires I'm used to. This is probably one of the main reasons for their impressive traction, wet weather handling, and quieter than expected ride. Hopefully it won't also translate to rapid tread wear, as softer compounds often do. Time will tell.

The entire set of 4 cost me $350 - including UPS shipping charges ($87.50 per tire). When you compare that to $536 per set including shipping ($134 per tire) for Dunlop RMRs - from the cheapest online retailer I could find - these High-Tec retreads look like a real bargain. At a savings of $46.50 per tire - that's more than one third off - money that can be spent on other mods - enough money to buy TWO spares.

When placing my order I requested a matched set of carcasses. Since the size I ordered is a bit less common, the salesman said that it might take up to two weeks for them to locate a matched set. I agreed to wait if necessary, but it didn't end up being that long. They were able to deliver them to my door in about a week and a half. Pretty darned good service considering that UPS transit time from South Dakota to Seattle is 3-4 days.

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