Prepare for snow: Winter tyres and snow socks

December 16, 2014 | By | In Buying Guides
Prepare for snow: Winter tyres and snow socks

If you’re worried about the prospect of snowy and icy roads as winter continues, winter tyres or snow socks could be the solution to slithering around on slippery Tarmac. With a set of winter tyres for an average car typically setting you back around £300 it may seem like a pricey option, but it could mean the difference between having a usable car and being marooned, if you live in a particularly cold or snowy part of the country.

Alternatively, if you only experience problems on the few days we have heavy snow on the roads, snow socks could be the better answer for you. As their name suggests, these slip over the driven wheels (meaning that you only need two – unless you have a four-wheel drive car) and give much better grip on snowy roads.

Winter tyres – Costly but should last several winters

Changing your tyres for winter may sound like an extreme option, but using winter tyres really can make a big difference to the level of grip your car has – in cold conditions (7C or less) as well as on snow. Such is the level of extra grip that winter tyres can offer, Austria, for instance, demands that all drivers switch to winter tyres when the temperature drops.

Winter tyres use a different type of rubber to normal tyres, meaning that they maintain better levels of grip when temperatures plummet and, of course, on snow. If you haven’t driven a car with winter rubber you may be surprised by the amount of extra grip they provide. If you plan to keep your car for several years you could invest in a set of winter wheels, meaning that you simply swap the whole wheel every winter, rather than have to pay to get tyres taken on and off your one set of wheels.

If you don’t have room to store the winter tyres over summer (and vice versa), a number of garages can also store your second set of wheels, sometimes even for free to customers. For those who plan to drive their car to the Alps over the ski season, having your own winter tyres could prove their worth on your travels and make your drive much safer.

Snow socks – Affordable alternative

If you can’t justify splashing out so much money on winter tyres, snow socks should keep you out of trouble when the snow starts to fall. As you only have to fit these to the powered wheels on your car, most drivers just need a pair – which typically costs around £65 for a decent pair of snow socks.

Snow socks are fitted to the tyre like snow chains – you simply wrap the Kevlar sock around the tyre, secure it and then you can drive off, with the socks gripping well on snowy surfaces. One thing to bear in mind with these, however, is that as soon as you return to gritted roads you have to remove the socks, as they will wear very quickly on clear tarmac.

Undoubtedly winter tyres are the best solution to driving in cold temperatures and negotiating snowy roads, but for those who only experience a little snow every winter, a snow sock could offer a much better value solution.

Picture: Which?

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