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Winter tyres and snow socks

Snow socks explained

By Daljinder Nagra

Article 2 of 2

Snow socks are a useful, cheaper alternative to winter tyres. Here we explain how snow socks work and when you can – and can't – use them

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Snow socks are stretchy fabric covers that slip over the 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 snow socks? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why buy snow socks for your car?

Snow socks 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. However, they are not a substitute for winter tyres.

The idea is, you keep your snowsocks 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.

Snow socks are a user-friendly substitute for snow chains and vary in price. They are typically available from roughly £50 per pair – or around a quarter of the cost of a pair of winter tyres.

How do you fit snow socks?

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 – either by (gently) driving or getting a passenger to help by pushing it – to get each sock fully over the tyre.

To see the cars that excelled in the Which? test lab, check out our top cars for 2019.

How do snow socks work?

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.

Snow socks are made from textiles with fibres arranged at a right angle to the direction of travel, to optimise grip on the road.

They should not be used on tarmac, however, as that will rip them to shreds in no time. Anyone who regularly drives long distances in snowy conditions will be better off buying winter tyres.

We've created a short video guide to explain the benefits of snow socks, when best to use them, and how to get them on and off without frustrating or injuring yourself.

Find out which cars you shouldn't buy – we reveal the Which? Don't Buy cars.

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