/ 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?

Comments
Guest

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?

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

Phil

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.

Wavechange

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

Guest

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.

Guest

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….

Guest

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.

Guest
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.

Guest

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.