Tire sipes are the small slits in the tire tread that give your tires grip in wet and winter conditions.
On snow and ice, tire sipes act as biting edges. In wet conditions, they act as a sponge to absorb standing water to reduce hydroplaning.
Siping was invented and patented in 1923 by John F. Sipe, a slaughterhouse worker who brilliantly cut slits in the soles of his shoes to stop slipping on wet floors. Siping was not incorporated into tires until the 1950s.
Sipes work on tires the same as they do on shoes. Generally, the more sipes a tire has, the better it is in snowy, wet, and icy conditions, In extreme weather locations, there are tire companies that will add sipes to tires – Check out how Performance Tire Siping is done at Les Schwab Tires with has locations in Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.
But more sipes can also lead to mushy handling on dry roads as the tread blocks squirm under the weight of your car. So what do tire manufacturers do?
The point of this post is to demonstrate that not all tires sipes are alike. Most tires look good and perform well when they’re new, but during the last 50% of tread wear it’s hit or miss, literally!
Check out these General Altimax RT43 tires – the sipes disappear faster than the tire is wearing and at 70% worn, these tires have so few biting edges for winter driving, I would recommend replacing them.
But didn’t you pay 100% of the price of your tire?
By comparison, look at these BFGoodrich Advantage Sport tires. At 70% worn, the tire sipes are still there!
That’s because BFGoodrich has the technology to give their tires full-depth siping without the trade-off in handling, and that’s what I like about these tires the most.
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