Winter tyres and snow socks
Snow socks explained
By Daljinder Nagra
Article 2 of 2
Snow socks are a useful alternative to winter tyres. Here we explain how they work and how to use them, and also reveal the best we’ve tested.
Snow socks are stretchy fabric covers that slip over the two driven wheels of your car to give it added grip on snow and ice. They can work well, as long as they are used in the correct way. So should you buy them and which ones work best? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why buy snow socks for your car?
Snow socks are not a substitute for winter tyres, but they can help you get home after an unexpected snowfall or get you moving off your driveway until you reach a gritted surface or a more major road that has been cleared.
The idea is that you keep them in your boot, then when you get stuck you simply slip them over your car's driven wheels and drive on. Once you're clear of the hazard you take them off again.
A user-friendly substitute for snow chains, snow socks vary in price, but are typically available from around £30-£60 per pair – or around a quarter of the cost of a pair of winter tyres.
To see the cars that excelled in the Which? test lab check out our Best Buys.
How do you fit snow socks?
As their name suggests, you pull the snow socks over the wheels and tyres of your car - one on each of the driven wheels.
As long as you can fit your hand between the top of the tyre and the wheel arch, you should be able to fit a snow sock fairly easily. You'll need to move the car back and forwards slightly to get each sock fully over the tyre.
How do snow socks work?
Snow socks are made from textiles with fibres arranged at a right angle to the direction of travel, to optimise grip on the road.
Dry snow and ice stick to the textile surface of the socks, generating greater friction between the road and the tyre. Snow socks also wick away water between the tyre and road, which further decreases the risk of slipping and skidding.
They should not be used on Tarmac, however, as that will rip them to shreds in no time, and anyone who regularly drives long distances in snowy conditions will be better off buying winter tyres.
The best and worst snow socks
We’ve subjected a number of snow socks, available at different price points, to a comprehensive battery of tests, including braking, towing and uphill acceleration on snow. We’ve also rated each of them on how easy they are to fit and remove at the roadside.
For the lowdown on hundreds of new and used cars read our expert reviews.
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