Tire Siping

What is Siping?

Siping a tire is the process of cutting razor slits across the tread of a tire. Note that siping is NOT the same as grooving a tire.

What is the purpose of siping a tire?

The SAF-TEE Siper brochure will tell you that siping offers better traction, extended tire life, softer ride,better braking, and better acceleration. I can confirm from many years of experience, that siping makes a night and day difference in traction.

Why should I sipe my tires for deep snow wheeling?

Siping is one of my three criteria for a deep snow tire. As you drive through the deep snow, the snow gets packed under your tire. The siping gives your tires hundreds of new biting edges. Additionally, the siping helps loosen the tire carcass allowing your tire to flex better when aired down. From years of personal experience I can say siping helps... a lot!

Should I sipe just the center lugs, or all the lugs?

Sipe all lugs of the tire, not just the center. The more siping, the better. The common concern seems to be with the outer lugs chunking. Not sure where this idea came from, but I've never had a problem with it. When siping my tires, I stop about 1/4" short of the shoulder.

Will siping damage my tires?

Generally, No! Siping will not damage your tire. Some tires might already have factory siping, or tread designs that may not hold up well with additional siping. I wouldn't recommend it for situations where there is a lot of wheel spin on loose course rock. It's certainly possible to get a little chunking here and there, but I've experienced chunking on non-siped tires as well. Chunking is not something I've ever been concerned about or had a problem with.

It should be noted that some tire dealers use it as an excuse to void tire warranties. So be sure to check that out first.

Where can I get my tires siped?

Depending on where you live, many tire stores will have a siping machine. Finding someone that can operate the machine correctly can be a little more difficult. Siping is popular with the semi-trucks, so I'd try to find a store that services both passenger vehicles and semi-trucks.

Can I sipe my tires myself?

You bet! In fact, I prefer to sipe my tires myself. The siping tool most people use is the Ideal Tire Groover . The trick for siping is to flip the blade upside down. The object is to just cut slits in the tire, not remove any rubber.

Make no mistake, siping by hand is a time consuming process and is a LOT of work. The end result is a much more precise siping job that can be customized to your particular tire.

How much does tire siping cost?

Last time I checked, siping was in the $10 - $15 per-tire range to have it done at a tire shop. The Ideal Tire Groover is $69.99 at Amazon.

Ideal Tire Groover
Ideal Tire Groover
Ideal Tire Groover
Ideal Tire Groover with the blade setup for Tire Grooving
Ideal Tire Groover with blade flipped for siping
Ideal Tire Groover with the blade setup for tire siping
Machine siped center lugs
Machine Siped center lugs of a super swamper tsl radial
Hand Siped super swamper tsl radial
Super swamper tsl radial hand siped with an Ideal Tire Groover
SAF-TEE Siper Brochure
SAF-TEE siper brochure

There are 7 comments
David – Calgary
February 07, 2014 - 03:10

How deep does the tire groover put the sipes in relation to the lug depth? Is it adjustable?

Kyle – Port Moody B.C
November 05, 2012 - 10:26

Just ordered a ideal tire grover to do some siping # 4 blade, i have some used tires 285/70/17 there is lots of tread 60%left but the rubber is now hard. hoping this will improve the traction for the winter time icy conditions.? . The tire shops do not seem to do tire siping anymore and just want to sell you new tires. Even though i have had it done in the past. no money in it i guess.

Reply to Kyle
Matt – Stanwood, Wa
November 08, 2012 - 10:26

Siping should definitely put some life back in your tires.

Robert – the news and ya┬┤ll know...
October 31, 2012 - 13:16

Hi Matt,

just found your video again after a lengthy search. I guess I should have bookmarked it ;-(

Which blade did you use?

Reply to Robert
Matt – Stanwood, WA
October 31, 2012 - 13:57

My ideal groover has the #4 head which takes the #4 blades. This spaces the sipes about 1/4 inch apart.

December 18, 2011 - 12:59

I saw a brochure for tire siping at a tire place a couple years ago. I haven't seen anything information on it since then. The brochure mentioned many advantages but it didn't make sense to me way all tires wouldn't be siped from the factory if it works so well.

Reply to Doug
Matt – Stanwood, Wa
December 18, 2011 - 14:49

I'm sure it all comes down to cost. If you watch the video post above, you'll see the tires on my other vehicles have a lot of factory siping. It does work very well!

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