Winter is fast approaching and it’s time to think about getting around on slick roads. There has been several different types of snow tires over the years. My foster dad came home with a set of walnut shells and drove into the snowy field to see how well they worked. He didn’t get stuck. These were recapped (old tires with new treads put on them). There were sawdust tread, too. The idea was these components would help tire grip. Then there are studded tires. I had a set one year and they worked well. However, I do not like the fact they tear up the roads when there is no snow or ice on them. The city of Spokane, Washington, even considered banning them.
One of my uncles claimed nothing was better than siped tires. These are tires that have been ran though a device that makes tiny slices about a quarter of an inch deep in the tire tread. These cuts are barely noticeable and can only be seen on close examination. They do not hurt the tires in any way but give them better grip. Also it helps dissipate heat which builds up while driving. Less heat means less wear.
My uncle, a diesel mechanic for a logging company, had to go out into the woods to work on equipment. People who have been into the mountains know the roads are not the best–especially if getting off the main drag. My uncle claimed his siped tires got him wherever he had to go–even in the winter. He also claimed they lasted longer.
I have tried several different types of snow tires but got annoyed with switching them every fall and spring. So I started buying all season tires. The first year I bought them I asked about siping and the salesman told me the newer ones didn’t need siping because of their design. The next time I went to a different tire store and they were promoting siping. I told the salesman there what I had been told at the other shop. He said I was probably told that because the place did not have siping equipment. I later learned this was not entirely true. Some tires do have what is considered the equivalent to siping but it is claimed they are not as good as having them siped after market.
I have had siped tires for several years now. I can say they do help. A few years ago I was delivering newspapers. I crept up a snowy hill looking for a new address. When I looked in my rearview mirror a minivan was coming up fast, so I decided I had better step on it. The tires spun so I let off the gas a bit and was able to get the top and turn around. When I came down the minivan was at the bottom of the hill taking a run at. He apparently spun out and had to back down the hill to get a good start at it.
Another year when I drove to work it was snowing. I didn’t think much about it until I got off work. It had snowed at least two feet. People were getting stuck in the parking lot. So I really expected to have trouble. But I was able to back out of my parking spot as if it barely snowed. I had no problems getting out of the lot and driving home. When I got to the residential area where I live the snow drifted so deep it covered the headlights a times. I drove through it without any problems to my driveway and stopped because there was about a four foot drift. I got out and was going to get a shove. I decided I didn’t want to be out there shoving at midnight (I got off work at 11 pm) so I jump back in my car and drove it in to the drift. The wheels spun and threw snow everywhere. I got stuck, but with a bit of rocking I was out in a couple of minutes. Then I drove into it again. Engine roared. Tires spun. Snow flew. And I shot into the driveway.
My brother bought a newer used car earlier in the year and was concerned that he wasn’t going to be able to afford studded tires. I told him to get his tires siped. Unlike studs used tires can be siped. Dirt and tiny rocks get into the stud holes so studs cannot be installed in used tires. Tires can be siped after they have been used. He had his tires siped and was quite surprised how well they worked, even on ice.
Cars equipped with siped tires also stop in a twenty-two percent shorter distance and give a smoother ride.
The next time you buy tires consider having them siped. They really do work and it isn’t expensive to have it done. I spent ten dollars per tire just a few weeks ago. There is one warning. Siping voids the warranty on some tires. Be sure you read the warranty or ask about it where you buy your tires.
Highly recommended reading:
Consumer Reports: How Safe are Worn Tires?