For anyone who has ever driven in extremely cold weather, the formation of sheet ice and packed snow on the road can be a hazard if you do not have some form of traction assistance on your tires. Snow chains have been the accessory of choice for drivers since they were invented in 1904. However, the trade-off between traction and the disadvantages of snow chains has led to the exploration of tire socks as a viable alternative.
Disadvantages of Snow Chains
Snow chains are ideal for short-distance use in dense, packed snow and roadway ice, but tend to require frequent readjustment. While they are still an essential accessory if you are driving in heavy snow, stringent regulations in some cities require you to remove them before you get back on asphalt roads because of the damage that they can cause to the road surface. Tire chains are also incompatible with certain drive trains, and can cause significant damage to the undercarriage. Weight is another factor that makes tire chains unwieldy—on average, chains are six or eight times heavier than rope or tire socks.
Tire socks are ideal for light to regular use in moderate snow conditions where your car needs traction. Tire socks do not replace chains but are an easier alternative. Tests conducted to compare tire sock performance indicate that regular or summer tires with tire socks can offer acceleration and braking performance comparable with winter tires. Tire socks are also easy to install and need no adjustment while on the road—both being advantages over chains that tend to loosen their grip after some use. Some tire socks are inlaid with a rope mesh that are lighter than snow chains but replicate the traction of these chains. However, winter tires remain the best choice if you tend to drive in snow for the majority of the year. As of 2014, tire socks have been approved for use in 45 states in the United States and are awaiting legislation in Canada. Snow socks for tires are also compatible with specialized drivetrains found in hybrid cars. Tire socks are recommended for vehicles ranging from small passenger cars to heavy-duty trucks and trailers.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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