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It can be very beneficial especially on ice and packed snow. It's only good on an all-season or snow tire. Don't do it on a performance tire. All the siping can cause chunking (pieces of tread torn out) of soft tread compounds when the tire is used agressively.
 

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The Librarian
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I like it so much, I bought my own siping tool. [:D]
Though, if you're only doing one set you're better off just having a tire shop do them.

And, Geezer's correct.
Siping is for all-season, all-terrain, or snow tires.

Attached are a couple pics of my Bronco tires that I siped.
The MTR's were scary as all get out in the ice...that is...until I siped them. [;)]
 

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My Proxes 4's are siped. Love it, especially here in utah. Snows like a biotch sometimes.
 

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For clarification, there's basically two types of siping. The kind WD provided a graphic of. The other is where the dealer cuts very thin (a hair width wide) groves every half inch or so around the entire circumference of the tire. The grooves are sometimes at right angles to the tread direction of travel for maximum traction but usually at a little angle or so for water evacuation, noise and max tread wear. Discounttire.com use to have pictures and a better explanation explaining the procedure. I'll try to find it.

Found it: http://www.discounttire.com/dtcs/tireSiping.dos
 

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WD40,
It looks like a giant soldering iron!
That's essentially what it is. A soldering iron with a sharp blade (all different kinds of shapes) that gets really hot and when handled by a pro, cuts tire tread like butter. At a dirt track event the pits always have the sweet(?) smell of burning rubber! Pro rallyists use these to keep nice sharp edges and get the most use from expensive tires as well. We called it "dressing" the tires.
 
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