It's weather like we have today (very windy and snowing) that always brings in the winter tyres conversations in motoring circles. Personally, I fall in to the 'we only have a couple of days where it's bad enough to warrant changing the tyres' band. That's why I bought some AutoSock Snow socks instead.
No need to visit the tyre shop to change the tyres, no need to take up a corner of the garage with the winter tyres throughout summer, just a simple bag with these new snow socks in them that fit in the boot whenever there may be a chance of the white stuff arriving.
So it comes to today, when I end up going out in the morning unexpectedly that I found myself having to use them for the first time. It's started to snow and it's cold. Sheffield, where I live, is a hilly city so within no time at all I'll have to navigate one. And so does everyone else. End result: Chaos.
Traffic is there where there is normally none. Lines of red lights from the cars with their foot on the brake await me on every turn. So I double back and try a different route. This takes me to my first hill. There are 4x4s going around doing ok, but there is also a Jag with his/her foot flat to the floor and the rear wheels spinning like crazy as they try and make their way up the slight incline. That stops me. Once I try and start again, it's not happening as I'm now fighting a battle uphill from a standing start on a slippy ungritted main road. I slide. There is no way I'm getting up the hill. So I halt the car in as safe a place as I can and get out to go to the boot knowing I have the kit to get me out of this. At this time, the car slides back a foot! That really wakes me up as I see the WTF look on my kid's face!
Anyway, the snow socks are very easy to put on the wheels. My kit even came with the type of gloves you normally see farmers wearing as they birth a calf so I got to keep my hands and indeed arms clean from the dirty snow and sludge that had gathered in the wheel arch.
[caption id="attachment_427" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Check out the full arm gloves![/caption]
The socks go on the driving wheels so mine are on the front. The best advice I can give to putting on snow socks is this: Turn the wheel out, put the socks on as much as possible, then turn the wheel in and continue to put over the rubber. The elastic of the sock pulls well behind the rubber (snow socks are custom size). You can't fully put a snow sock on without moving the car, but the remainder of the sock you can't fit on easily by rolling the car forward or back and it either sucks into place on the first rotation of the tyres or you simply pull over the gap.
[caption id="attachment_419" align="alignleft" width="300"] Snow socks Saab 9-3[/caption]
If you have a RWD car then clearly you can't do the wheel turning but but its the same principle outside of that. There is a very clear tread of where the sock should sit.
All in all this took me about 2 mins. I got back in the car and the difference is immediate. Where before my car was going nowhere, it pulled off without a hitch. W e sailed up the hill but soon met traffic again so stopped. When I put the hand break on, again the car slid backwards, but if I applied the foot break it didn't as the breaking point moved from back to front. The rest of the drive was fine, no problems. People turned to look as I drove past their static cars safely and easily and the pedestrians I passed had a somewhat puzzled look on their faces as to what was on my tyres in this weather but its safe to say these are brilliant. There is no chance I will get stuck in snow unless its too deep for the entire car so that's a nice thought to have about driving. What a result. Below is how they look once on the tyre.
Snow socks are available for all models of car and the AutoSock ones I purchased from the dealer. They are available from Vauxhall (and formerly Saab) but also easy to find online. You are looking at around £45 although at 18inches+ you pay a bit more. Beware as always, that its worthwhile buying at the right price, not the cheapest price.
A following note to when the snow leaves. These aren't for normal driving. Once the snow has started to wear away, you need to take these off again. Don't drive around at speeds thinking its just normal. Granted winter tyres are not just for snow but for the whole winter period which essentially here in the UK is all but the 1 week of summer and the 2 of snowy winter, so in that respect they are a better choice for some, but for me whipping these on and off 'as needed' is just fine. The fit easily back into the original bag (which coincidentally is also good for kneeling on in the snow)
[caption id="attachment_426" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Bag in the bag, no worries[/caption]
The AutoSock video is true to life.
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