Denis Baldwin Talks...

Though common practice in some parts of the world, the process of siping tires is quite hidden from the mainstream, until now. A month ago, FOURWHEELER magazine did an article explaining how to, what to and where to sip your tires. Now business is booming and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. It has been a tradition in my extended family to sip their tires twice a year, once in October and once in April. This does a few things for you, as explained below.

Siping began in the 1920s when a meat plant worker named John Sipe got tired of slipping on the floor. He decided to cut grooves in the bottom of his rubber-soled shoes for better traction; Thus the practice of siping; was born.

Why sipe your tires? One Word. TRACTION. Nothing can beat a siped tire on ice and snow. It is the attractive and more graceful version of chained tires. Tires that have been siped generally stop faster, handle better and last longer, due to the grooves in the tires.

Why should I not sipe my tires? DEBRIS. Rocks, dirt and other grungies can get caught up inside the sipes from the roadway and cause chunks of the tire to break off. This can lead to uneven tire wear and damage.

Can I sipe my tires? Depends on the tire. All highway tread, most all-terrain and a few mud terrain tires can be siped. Large gaps and lugs can lead to the siping machine falling off of the lug and damaging the tire. This is not a good thing. Thus, mud tires are often not siped; or at least not to the edge.

How will this affect tire mileage? Sipes generally make your tire run cooler and therefore they will last longer. This is because air and water can make its way into the new sipes and act as a coolant to the warming tire. This is especially helpful when it gets warm outside and you do a lot of freeway driving.

How much does it cost? I have been quoted prices from $10-20 per tire. This is not much at all when you consider all of the advantages. To spend $40-80 on an investment like this is truly a low-budget bargain.

How many times do I do it? Though my uncles do this every 6 months like clockwork, you may only want or need to do this once a year. Usually, the sipes will wear evenly with the tires and you can get them resiped once a year or so.

When to do it. The best time to do it is just before the first snow. I would take mine and have it done in October or November. The reason is to let the tires wear with time before they tackle the snow. This ensures a better grip.

Where can you get it siped? You can have your tires siped at just about any major tire store and most truck and 4x4 specialty stores.

Well guys, this has been fun. I look forward to some feedback. If you have any ideas for future columns, please let me know. Also, check out my other columns throughout my own e-zine, Custom World or e-mail me.

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