We have been managing Uber cars in Ghana since January 2017. In the process, we have made some mistakes, set some standards in this sub-sector and also taken note of a lot of lessons. It is our desire to keep learning on the job and keep improving. We have identified that one of the areas we could improve and save money for our Partners is to switch from used (home used) tires to brand new options.
While there are reasons why choosing used tires is good, we found out that it is more difficult to really know which used tire is reliable. Moreover, Uber cars in Ghana do quite extensive mileage per day, about 200km, which is 3 to 5 times private car usage in Accra city.
Why No More Used Tires?
It is difficult to properly review used tires. Even an expert sometimes gets it wrong. The problem is that, some of the defects are not noticeable to the naked eye. So you can certify a used tire, put it on road and the next day, the tire is damaged totally.
The (Tire) Rubber May Be Already Old
The rubber is subject of aging. A tire (being used under normal conditions, not Uber) can work from 5 to 10 years, depending on the maintenance, exposure to UV, ozone, salt, dust, etc. After the 5th year, annual inspections have to be done to check the condition of the rubber, as the compounds start to dry and deteriorate.
As seen in the photo above, you can determine the age of a tire by reading the four-digit DOT date code on a tire sidewall. Two first numbers mean the week of the manufacture, and the second – the year, so 2815 will mean the 28th week of 2015.
Most of the used tires in our system have already passed the safe 5th year period.
Save Money and Prevent Accident
It sounds ironic that spending extra to buy brand new tires instead of spending a quarter of the amount on used tires will save you money. However, when it comes to Uber car management in Ghana, we have found this to be the exact situation. Remember Uber cars do excessive mileage per week and coupled with our bad roads, there is more pressure on our tires. Used tires simply break down too often. And when they break down in the evening or weekends, that could mean lost of revenue in two ways; extra expense on another tire, lost of revenue because the driver may not be able to continue working that weekend or that night if no reliable spare was available.
We also had situations where tires failed our drivers whilst on trip. Some nearly resulted in fatal cases whilst others were minor issues.
Brand New Tyres are Simply Better for Uber
Luckily, when it comes to comparison between brand new and used tires for Uber, we don’t have to cite any foreign article. We have the benefit of managing close to 45 brand new cars now and about 10 of them have been under our management for over 7 months. The conclusion is that, brand new tires are reliable. We have changed only two brand new tires within 7 months. One was due to accident, the other was due to alignment issues.
On the other hand, we have lost count of the number of times we have to change used tires. On the average, used tires are failing every 3 weeks for Uber cars.
How Much Does Brand New Tire Cost?
Brand new tires for cars like Suzuki Alto and Hyundai Eon cost GHC160 to GHC200. For cars like Kia Morning/Picanto, brand new tires cost GHC200 to GHC240. For Toyota Yaris, it could be more.
What this New Guideline Means for our Partners
From our contract with Partners, there are thresholds beyond which it is the Partner who must bear the full cost. The threshold ranges from GHC75 to GHC100. Since brand new tires are clearly over GHC100, this means Partners will be bearing the full cost of tires going forward. But you don’t need to worry as your investment will take a while before you will need to replace another tire.
We recommend that all Partners of used cars/used tires take steps to change all used tires to brand new ones at a go or in twos. It is not technically correct to introduce a single brand new tire to support 3 used tires.
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