Knowing your Tires: How Sipes Will Enhance Your Trailer Performance

Dealer Education ,


Written by Kenda Americana Tire & Wheel

tire sipe is a small but mighty component of a trailer tire that you may have never noticed. Sipes are a series of small slits in the tire’s tread block that creates additional tread void & areas for water evacuation for increased grip.

Kenda AmericanTire & Wheel wants you to know that when driving in wet weather it is important to maintain as much surface contact as possible to avoid hydroplaning. Groove and sipes can help evacuate water from the tires. The sipes will open up to take in water and remove it from the contact surface of the tire. The extra biting edges provided by the sipes enhance grip for a variety of driving situations, particularly in inclement weather. When traveling on a wet surface, sipes also help reduce braking distance, especially in higher load applications. On dry roads, the sipes allow extra air in to cool the tread surface extending tire life. Sipes also help fine-tune each tire’s handling, ride and wear characteristics which is why Kenda trailer tires are engineered with sipes as part of the tread design.

The original idea of siping dates back to the 1920s and involves a pair of shoes rather than tires. Siping was patented in 1920 by John Sipe, a slaughterhouse employee who had become increasingly frustrated at constantly losing his footing on wet, slippery floors. He discovered that by cutting slits in the bottom of his shoe soles, he gained traction. On a tire, these same small cuts cause the tread to have more bite; allowing for better traction on the road. 

Why Should I Look for Sipes When Choosing a Trailer Tire?

Trailer tires designed with both wet and dry conditions in mind include sipes for improving traction and braking, delivering a smoother ride, and prolonging tire life. When driving on wet road conditions your tires must evacuate road water to avoid hydroplaning. Most water is moved through deep grooves in the tread pattern, but at high speeds the surface water can build into a wall in front of a tire’s tread, adding sipes helps channel more water away, so less hydroplaning occurs. Tire sipes help by disrupting the water surface and channeling some of the road water to the sides of the tire.

Benefits of Tire Siping

    • Improved handling and performance: Tire sipes help tire treads get a better grip for a smoother ride.
    • Increased traction: Siping effectively multiplies the gripping edges for improved traction in wet conditions without reducing the stiffness in the tread blocks.
    • Reduced heat buildup: Sipes expand as tires in use heat up. This expansion dissipates the heat to keep your tires cooler when you're driving on hot roads.
    • Improved braking performance: The increased traction your tires have from siping translates to improved braking performance to keep you safer.

Source: Al Henderson Sr. Engineer at Kenda’s American Technology Center and the lead engineer for all trailer tire development/testing. He also serves as a committee member of the Tire and Rim Association and the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers.


About Kenda AmericanTire and Wheel

Kenda AmericanTire and Wheel (KATW), a division of global tire manufacturing leader Kenda, is its premier North American distribution arm serving original equipment manufacturers and distributors in the towable trailer, utility, RV, marine, and agricultural industries. Providing quality tirewheeland assembly solutions across a wide range of steel and aluminum wheels, KATW offers a controlled approach throughout the value chain from design, manufacturing, and quality control to distribution and aftermarket service – enhancing both the performance and value of towable, utility and RV platforms. To learn more, please visit americantire.com.