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What Are Tire Sipes? Pros and Cons of Siping Tires

By Tire Agent Staff

February 11, 2022


Customizing your vehicle is very common these days. We're not talking about crazy modifications like you'd see in the "Fast & Furious" movies. Not many people have the need for NOS to get a quick start off a red light.

But you will see some incredible cosmetic changes as you drive around the hip parts of town. Think more on the lines of a custom paint job or some upgraded sport seats for a more comfortable ride.

Some people even like modifying their tires to try to improve how the car handles. One method is tire siping. But what does tire siping entail, and is it a good idea?

What exactly is tire siping?

Tires contain many small surface areas called tread blocks. These are important while driving during inclement weather to help with traction. Tread blocks get gripping power from myriad sharp surrounding tire edges. Siping is used to create even more gripping edges.

A sipe is a tiny slit on the tire's surface. Tire siping is when extra slits are cut into a tire's tread to boost traction.

Here's how it works: Sipes open up as tires roll across the road driving surface to take in snow or water and remove it from the tire's contact area. This enhances a tire's grip, especially during rough weather like heavy rain or snow.

Some potential benefits of tire siping:

  • Better traction
  • Smoother ride
  • Enhanced braking power
  • Potentially extends tire life

There are a couple of ways tires are siped. The first is sipes built into the tire during the manufacturing process. The second is aftermarket siping. Let's take a look at both.

Tires manufactured with sipes

Manufacturers will include sipes while tires are being constructed. They use an advanced molding process to produce an internally reinforced tread block.


Source: Nokian WR D4 winter tyre

Tires that come with siping built-in are said to perform at a more optimal level and offer improved handling.

These tires were designed with sipes built-in by the maker, so they are reinforced and safe to use. For passenger and commercial vehicles, this is the only type of siping you want in your tires. We explain why in the next section. 

Is aftermarket siping a good idea?

While you can purchase online tools that you could use to sipe tires, aftermarket tire siping is a bad idea for two reasons: It voids your warranty and it isn't safe.  

Although aftermarket siping is common in the racing industry, for everyday driving on North American roads, you don't need extra sipes. If your tires aren't gripping well, you probably need new tires. 

Aftermarket siping might also have adverse effects during the summer. It could result in a loss of surface grip when temperatures outdoors are scorching. And aftermarket siping can decrease your tire's tread life, forcing you to replace them sooner than expected.

Not only that, but the process is illegal in many states. That's because the tire footprint approved by the Department of Transportation is modified during the siping process and is considered dangerous.

So if you live your life a quarter-mile at a time and want all the benefits that come with tire siping, stick to those manufactured that way. You'll save money in the long run and end up with a safer ride.