Tire Siping Performance Tires for Winter Traction

I have 18" Toyo All-Seasons on my '04 Infiniti G35 Coupe. What do you think of siping these tires to get better traction in our occasional icey and snowy highways in the Seattle area?

Sipping will should help your traction but i believe it will shorten the life of your tires

Sipe them all you want, but the tire compound is still going to be rock hard in the cold, and send you sliding off the road when you least expect it.

Once you have water, and freezing temps, you need a rubber compound that stays flexible in those conditions.



I’d be surprised if it made much difference in snow, maybe on ice. Winter tire tread patterns are quite different than all-seasons. The fact that this is the first time I’ve seen this posted makes me wonder, too. If it was a good way to improve winter traction, I’d have expected more discussion of it.

It was my understanding that thats what siping is all about…winter traction

[b] siping?[/b]  

It is a cutting of slits on your tyres. Not groves, just slits.  How they work has already been addressed.

The previous questions I remember about siping was about it as a tire shop add-on to supposedly improve year-round handling, which is also not a good idea, wears out tires quicker and assumes (wrongly, in my opinion) that ‘Bob’ at the tire shop can do a better job designing your tire than the engineers at Michelin or wherever.

Why would anyone assume that the tire retailer/installer would know more about tread design than the company that employs highly skilled engineers to design the tires in the first place, who operate test tracks to evaluate their tread designs, and who manufacture the tires?

To use similar reasoning, I guess that we should entrust all of our medication decisions to the cashier at the local Walgreen’s. If the tire retailer knows more about tire design than the manufacturer of the tire, then I have to assume that the kid running the cash register at Walgreen’s is more knowledgeable about prescribing medications than my doctor, and is more knowledgeable about drug interactions than the pharmacist.

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, and expecting so-called all-season tires to perform like genuine winter tires is…not realistic. Besides the reality that the tire shop’s siping is unlikely to produce more traction, the actual rubber compound of those all-season tires is very different from the rubber compound of a genuine winter tire.

It seems to me that tire siping was more common back in the 1960’s. I had a 1961 Corvair and had the rear tires siped for traction on ice. I don’t know if it made much difference. The tires weren’t winter tires (or snow tires as we called them back then). The wheels were 13" and I don’t think siping affected tire wear since tires didn’t last all that long back then anyway. I certainly wouldn’t do it on today’s tires.

And, the rear tires on the original design Corvairs did not last very long anyway, due to the use of only one univeral joint on each swing axle. When those tires hit a bump, the tire tread had very uneven contact with the road, due to the extreme camber that took place.

The rear tires on Corvairs (and on the original design Pontiac Tempest, which used the same rear suspension) lasted–at best–about 10,000 miles. The outer part of the tread might have been in very good shape, but the inner area of the tread could be bald in just 10k miles.

Modern tires already have optimal siping for the design typically, so cutting them more will do little except void the warranty if any left on them.

This is old school idea from the 1950’s or 1960’s when tires were round and rubber and did not last long anyway.

The reality is it is a money maker gimmick for a tire shop, nothing more.

In other words, be your own expert and go for it. You never know what you might end up liking.

Siping done properly does improve performance on icy roads, at the expense of tire life. Siping was often done decades ago, as tires were not available with the slits already in the tread blocks. But today they can come right out of the mold that way. Simply buying winter tires probably gives you a better reault than having all-season tire siped probably primarily because the tread compound is softer also.

In short, siping the tires would help, but getting winter tires would help even more.

Actually, they did away with the swing axle rear end by '65.

My dad had a '61 and then a '65 and it was really a great little car for its day, ahead of its time in many ways. But by '65 Nader had already ruined its reputation. Nader got rich and a car that had real potential as a competitor to the Beetle was discontinued.


I know that the swing axles were gone by '65. That is why I referred to the “original design” Corvairs.

I agree that the later ones were good cars. Unfortunately, GM followed their usual practice of the '60s, '70s, and '80s of marketing cars that had been inadequately tested, and instead they allowed (or forced?) the buying public to perform the safety, reliability, and durability testing that should have been done prior to the car’s introduction. This was just the first in a succession of inferior cars that GM later improved greatly, only to discontinue them once they were adequately improved.

Incidentally, in our rush to condemn Nader, let us not forget about the very real handlng problems with the Corvair if the correct (and unorthodox) tire pressures were not maintained. In an era when virtually every car called for something like 24-26 psi in all 4 tires, the Corvair required something like 16 psi in the front, and 28 psi in the rear. If these pressure were not maintained, the resulting oversteer was downright treacherous for drivers who were unused to that type of handling. The necessity of maintaining those unorthodox tire pressures also necessitated a prominent notice to that effect, somewhere in addition to the miniscule 12 point type buried in the Owner’s Manual.

Additionally, the steering column of the Corvair (the entire run of Corvairs, to the best of my knowledge) extended very far forward, and in fact the steering column ended just a few millimeters behind the left front corner of the flimsy front bumper.

Like other cars of the era, the steering column was not collapsible, but no other car had a steering column that extended so far forward, and no other American car had no engine in front to buffer the effects of a frontal collision.

The result of this faulty design was that, in the event of even a moderate frontal impact, the steering column was driven back into the passenger compartment so far that it had a tendency to impale the driver.

There is a lot of give an take in tire manufacturing and every thing is a trade of. Jump in the middle and just sipe an “all (3) season” tire, could compromise the summer handling and/or rain traction. Instead, I would get tires that are better rated for ice traction.

Siping is a scam, used by tire shops to increase their profit margin. There is no scientific evidence that siping improves traction… but it does help the tire shop owner make his boat payments!

You made some good points. In truth, while I don’t like Nader’s approach of demonizing a specific car to make his point, he really did begin us down the road to safer cars.

I do, however, think the Corvair was unfairly demonized. Cars in the '60s were all terribly unsafe by today’s standards. The Corvair’s real weakness, an empty shell for a front end, was shared by other cars on the road including the Beetle, the Kharman Ghia, and the Porsche. And even sports cars like the Spitfire had almost nothing between the driver and the front bumper. And you may recall that the Beetles and even the Porches of the era also had swing axle rear ends.

While I don’t condone it, I’m not sure any of them did much safety, reliability, or durability testing back in the early '60s. The few that did try to advance safety didn’t seem to fare well. Perhaps at the speeds of the day people simply felt safe as long as they were surrounded by lots of steel. We know far, far more about safety than we did in the early '60s.

Having learned on Corvairs and owned a Beetle, I believe that Corvair, even the early one, was the better and the safer of the two. I believe it would have successfully competed against the Beetle had Nader not used it to springboard his career.

I think GM had decided to kill off the car before Nader’s book was published. As I understand it, a directive came down from the GM management to make only mandated government changes (e.g. side marker lights). The Corvair was a very expensive car to manufacture and few of the parts interchanged with other GM cars. A camber compensator was available for the earlier Corvairs for about $15 that limited the tendency of the rear wheels to tuck under and cause the car to roll over.

I thought my 1961 Corvair handled as well as most cars on the road at the time.