/ Motoring

Would you use snow socks to stop you slip-sliding away?

Car with snow socks

At last it seems there’s a sensible alternative to winter tyres for helping motorists get home in an emergency – snow socks. Have you ever slipped them on or are you yet to be convinced about their effectiveness?

Which? Car has just tested its first batch of car snow socks – fabric covers that slip over the two driven wheels of a car to improve grip on snow and ice.

And we were pleased to discover that the best of them enabled a car wearing summer tyres to complete our handling circuit as well as one fitted with winter tyres. They weren’t far behind winter tyres for braking at low speed and uphill acceleration either.

So, provided you stick to a Which? Best Buy set, you should no longer have to abandon your car at the roadside after sudden snowfall or worry about trying to dive it home, slip-sliding about in sub-zero temperatures as you would just using summer tyres.

And you won’t have to shell out hundreds of pounds for the privilege – prices for the snow socks we tested ranged from £35 to £80.

Should snow socks be compulsory?

OK, I appreciate the limitations – they’re low-speed only and have to be removed as soon as you reach tarmac, so they’re in no way a long-distance solution.

But if every car used them, I’m sure they’d alleviate a large number of the really common low-speed shunts that happen on snow and ice. Plus, they’d lessen the incidences of roads around steep hills becoming blocked with abandoned vehicles in cold weather.

Maybe they should be made compulsory equipment? And wouldn’t it be great if it was possible to convince insurers to reduce premiums for drivers who used them in adverse weather conditions?


We still haven’t grasped the difference between snow tyres and winter tyres have we?

Why does there need to be a “sensible alternative” to winter tyres?

Because I haven’t seen any need to spend £100’s on winter tyres yet – because where I live the number of snowy or ice bound days is in low single figures annually (so far this year only one day was snow covered ) So I’d sooner pay £35 for one or two “driverless” days.than £500 for a wasted set of unnecessary tyres.

Winter tyres may be a necessity for rural areas – but not – according to my 64 years of accident free driving experience in a very large south England ‘warm’ urban area called London.

Winter tyres aren’t just for snow and ice. Possibly in London you wouldn’t even need snow socks but a lot of people live in rural areas and are dependent on using un-gritted roads to get to and from work and places where they can obtain food, medicine and other essentials.


Sadly that wasn’t mentioned in your first post – in fact it was all about difference between snow and winter tyres – I use “summer tyres” year round without incident. They seem to last over five years as I am a smooth driver. The whole point there are a lot of people like me in other cities. In fact the Which? poll on this indicated that the majority of posters would not change to winter tyres either.


I agree – planning helps enormously – and snow socks should not be compulsory – but they are a far cheaper option if they are required.

I cannot remember having a problem with getting stuck in snow in over 40 years, apart from last winter when I could not get the car on the drive and had to leave it on the road. That’s probably because I live in an area that is flat and the main roads are kept clear, plus the fact that I try to avoid driving when there is snow and ice on the road for reasons of safety.

I realise that using a car is more important for some than for others, but I have known so many people who treat snow as a challenge rather than putting a little effort into planning and avoiding unnecessary journeys during hazardous weather.

I don’t think that snow socks should be compulsory.

It says in the article that snow socks “have to be removed as soon as you reach tarmac”. Surely this makes them completely impractical? Even if snow is quite deep in side roads, as soon as you get to a busy road or a gritted road, what are you supposed to do? Get out in the middle of the traffic and remove them? Then stop and put them back on again when you turn off the main road again? And you say they are to improve safety….

First they only take a few moments to fit and it is easy to stop just before you leave the snow covered side road. Frankly if this is too much trouble for you – pay the extra £450 or so for winter tyres.

I have never needed either as like Wavechange I would avoid driving in deep snow which is very rare where I live.

David says:
17 February 2012

Most drivers think winter tyres are a waste of money, until they try them. Not only are they for snow and ice but any temperature below 7c and they give an advantage over summer tyres, those drivers that say there were only a few days of snow each year are indeed correct, but how many mornings are there that the journey to work is undertaken in sub 7c conditions?

The right tools for the job.

I agree with David. I purchased a set of Bridgestone Blizzaks on steel wheels and switch wheels as soon as the weather turns cold (consistently below 8 degrees Celsius). Because of the ‘softer’ rubber mix, they are quieter, more comfortable and have far more grip than the summer tyres at low temperatures.

It also means that twice a year I swap the front with the back wheels which helps even out the tyre wear with a front wheel drive car where the front tyres wear out much faster than the rear (you must remember to mark the ‘location’ of the wheels when removing them, of course, so that you put them back into the correct new position).

Other than the initial expense of the extra set of steel wheels, the running costs are near the same because tyre replacement is ‘extended’ to longer intervals.

It could also save lives, damage and much inconvenience if you the worse happens in bad weather.

Brian says:
17 February 2012

I have known about thses devices for many years having been a frequent winter visitor to Norway. I purchased a pair of SnowSocks for my daughter last winter, as she lived in a remote part of Hampshire suffering severe snow fall. She is a paediatric Staff Nurse and had to be able to get into the hospital for shifts. The effect of the socks on her mini cooper diesel’s traction was remarkable and in someways it was superior to some 4×4’s, judging by the other traffic. They are easy to fit and remove. and washable. Having to remove them on clear tarmac to avoid excessive wear is the only downside. Needless to say all our cars now have them in the boot and give us great confidence in not getting stuck!

Stanb says:
17 February 2012

I was in France last winter and had an opportunity to use a new pair of Snow Socks on my daughters Ford Puma, The house was situated on a main road with a slight incline and I subsequently learned that the fresh snow was covering ice. Driving on to the road was fine, but. making progress was impossible with or without passengers. The new Snow Socks were easily fitted. The passengers climbed in and I drove the five miles home without any problems. That night, the Snow Sock investment more than covered the outlay.For an emergency, the Snow Socks are definitely a safe investment to get one home. We used them on one further occasion and I believe that they remained good for another ’emergency’ or two.

I used Snow Socks for the first time last year, on the driven wheels on my BMW. They were really useful in our area, as it is relatively hilly and we don’t get the gritters. They were easy to put on and take off, so no problems removing them when reaching tarmac. I didn’t see many other rear-wheel drive cars moving around my village!

Regarding Ian’s comment above, you find that if you are going onto a main road which has been gritted, there will be a fair amount of grit on the side road too from cars which have come off the main road, so you can stay on the side road in the area that has got the grit, remove the snow socks and then drive away, joining the main road safely (i.e. no need to stop on the main road to remove them).

I have invested in another pair this winter for the steering wheels, purely to get my car out of my drive as their is an awkward camber.

I have no where to store winter/snow tyres/wheels, and can’t really justify the cost above the snow socks.

I have had winter tyres continually on my Porsche Cayman since 2010 and given the incidence of below 7C days in the UK – particularly if you travel to work early or come back late – that not having winter or all-season tyres is foolish. Plenty of tread left after 12,000 + miles.

The only reason our little hot-spot of a country has summer tyres is because they are very cheap for the car manufacturers as an OE fit. To believe that they are fitted because they are “best” is delusional. After all it would be difficult surely to claim that the summer tyre provided on a new car in Malaga is just as useful as the one supplied in the same new car in Bradford.

Todays low in Bradford is 10C. The month average low in Malaga in January is 7.77C. Conveniently above the recognised breakpoint where summer tyres harden up and lose grip.
See the ten months of the year when the avearge low for Bradford is sub 10C!

Snow tyres are for snow they are not some miracle product that will make your summer tyres extra grippy in the cold and rain of the UK when they are in your boot. If you really feel that winter tyres are “unsuitable” go for all-seasons.

Forgive my bluntness, but those who decry a set of winter tyres just do not it.

All you are paying for is a set of cheap steel or alloy wheels….the tyres you take off will not wear!

If your really lazy (like me) you can leave the winter tyres on all year, as indeed I have with our second car (which is used as a commuter car by my wife) they are Nokian and behave just like summer tyres during the summer and grip like limpets in the winter. In fact last year my wife drove out of her works car park when the boss has got stuck in his Range Rover…….

Winter tyres nowadays do not compromise normal driving, only if your driving like a boy racer.

But I fear this will fall on deaf ears…….until the next snowfall……….