Tire Siping: Should I or Shouldn't I?  That is The Question

Siping is nothing new in the automotive industry, but many have not heard of it. Even my old friend Webster's II dictionary, circa 1988, didn't know it should be its pages either. So if you are surprised you've never heard of this before, don't be too hard on yourself and read on.

Want to know about siping?

Siping is the practice of making parallel cuts across the treads of tires. These little slits allow the rubber of the tire to conform to the road surface and make for outstanding traction.

When the road is wet with snow, water, or even ice, the slits actually act like little squeegees, thus allowing the tire to continue to stay in contact with the road surface. The result is increased traction and safety. An additional effect is that these little slits also prolong the life of the tire by dissipating the heat produced by the friction of the tire on the pavement.

Interco TRXUS tire from Siping on Tire Information World
Interco TRXUS tire features factory-made siping

Now with all good things comes controversy. One of the most important things to note on this subject is that tire manufactures are on the fence about the alteration of 'their' products by anyone else but themselves. Making sipes will void the warranty on your tires. That's not to say they think it bad.  In fact, some manufacturers, including Goodyear and Interco, has already incorporated the feature into some tires using a different name for the feature. Perhaps this is a legally driven argument from their point of view. If you don't give a rip about their legal concerns or a voided warranty, maybe this is for you.

Experiment on your own tires

There's nothing illegal about experimenting on your own tires. Many tire shops will even do this procedure for you, but it can be expensive because all the little rocks in your tires must be removed first (they charge you for this).

Do it Yourself Siping

For the Do It Yourselfers, here's how you go about performing surgery on your tires.

One thing to note; this is only minor surgery, you are not going to remove any rubber from your tires so you don't need any special qualifications; just patience, a moderately steady hand, and a sharp blade.

  • When siping off-road tires, make your cuts on the center tread blocks only. Passenger tires can be cut across the tire, but keep the cuts 1/2" back from leading and trailing edges of tread blocks.
  • For best results, the cuts should be spaced approximately 1/4" apart. Make the cuts run at right angles to the direction of travel.
  • Do not make the cuts deeper then 1/4" deep and don't let the depth of the cuts go closer than 1/8" to base of the tread block.
  • The best way to make your cuts is to have a blade set to the desired depth so the cuts are uniform in depth.

You may be able to find a tool for this job at a tire store or discount auto parts shop. This may take time and some blades, but the results will be worth it.

The results?

If you search the internet on the topic you will find several testimonials from people who asked themselves the question, "Should I or should I not sipe?" They'd heard of it, did the research, and took action. There is no going back for many of these tire-tweaking pioneers. They will keep siping, how about you?


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