New Wheels vs. Reconditioned Wheels

Have you ever noticed that when a Railroad (RR) repairs your owned cars most of the time they apply new wheels? One reason is that new wheels are easier to get and the RRs can charge more. But the RRs may know something you don’t; reconditioned wheels are not only less expensive, but they tend to last longer than a new wheel. By looking at RR provided BRC repair data you may be surprised to see that you do indeed tend to get more miles per 16th inches of wear from a reconditioned wheel vs a new wheel. Some shippers have PM programs where they replace wheels before they are condemned with reconditioned wheels vs letting the RR replace with new wheels. Other shippers have set up bi-lateral agreements with individual RRs in which they agree to pay more than the AAR rates in return for getting reconditioned wheels applied to their cars. Volume is everything when it comes to wheel prices and for smaller fleets it might not make any sense to consider any of these arrangements. That said, wheels are almost always a car owner’s number one maintenance expense.

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