Here is something different, not gear for walking, but gear to help you get to your walk in poor weather. Two weeks ago before the heavy snow fall I bought online for my rear wheel drive car, Snow socks to go over the tyres of my car. Unfortunately because we did not have any post for 8 days, I was unable to use them until today. I have been relying on my wife’s 4 x 4 to get out and about for work and pleasure, which then leaves her stranded and there is no public transport through our village, so cars are essential . There are several brands available and I read a number of good reviews on them. I bought them for my company car, so there will be no cost to me personally! – but will be very useful driving to hills where I would encounter ice and snow. However anyone who has experience of rear wheel drive cars, will know they are completely useless in ice and snow. I cannot get out of my drive, let alone the lane I live in.
So what are snow socks ? These are a device in technical fabric which fits over the whole of the tyre, allowing you to get a better grip and traction in snow and ice. If you imagine a woolen mitten it sticks to snow and ice and so does the fabric in a similar fashion. With front wheel drive cars you can just buy one pair for the driving wheels, but with rear wheel you need to fit them to all tyres. I tried with just one pair on the rear wheels backing out of my drive, but the front wheels just span. Adding the other pair, gave the grip necessary.
Fitting is easy and quick. You stretch the elasticated part of the device over the tyre and pull around the tyre as much as possible. Drive forward slightly, so the unattached bottom section is now at the top and pull the rest around the wheel.
I drove up our road and had not problem getting up it, usually a major problem, so they do help a great deal. After driving 500 metres the socks will self level and fit correct around the wheel.
Taking them off, is simple, pull on the orange cross on the front of the wheel and ease the sock off. Drive forward and collect them off the road.
Two words of warning
Do not drive any distance on asphalt as this will wear out the fabric and don’t forget to make sure that stones are removed from the tyres, before fitting the socks. They don’t say that in the instructions and my drive is made of gravel. One of the socks now has a couple of holes in them, where the sharp stones must have been embedded in the tread ! Not a good start for me, but by posting this warning up, perhaps others can avoid this issue.
All in all, a device that does work and did get me out of my road for the first time in nearly two weeks. They should help me when I am travelling around for work and also when driving to the hills. I will continue to monitor the wear situation and report back in due course.
The Auto Socks look like a useful back-up, I was checking them out last night as it happens. Not sure I’d completely agree about rear wheel drive being useless on snow and ice though, my current car is my 1st front wheel drive and I think I prefer rear wheel drive. They each have their pros and cons, I suppose it comes down to what you’re most familiar with.
Richard – interesting comments about rear wheel drive cars. Did you have an auto or manual gear box ? All the rear wheel cars I have driven have had auto boxes – I don’t know if that combined with rear wheel drive cars cause the problems.
Hi Mark, they were all manual, 2 Escort’s, 3 Capri’s and 2 Sierra Sapphire’s. The main problem with current rear wheel drive cars based on talking to friends is the wheel/tyre combination rather than the drive layout, current RWD cars are simply over tyred (too low profile and wider than required even for high speed cornering on dry roads).
Thanks for your info. I didn’t know that regarding the low profile tyres. It is certainly a problem for Mercs and BMW’s.
It’s primarily the width that causes the problem as the tyres simply float on the surface rather than cut into the snow, FWD cars get away with it due to the weight of engine gearbox and differential/drive shafts all bearing down on the driven wheels. RWD is more evenly balanced but obviously there’s less weight over the rear wheels. The tyre profile comes into it as the wider you go the lower profile the tyres become as profile is a percentage of width. If you went wider and didn’t lower the profile your overall diameter would be bigger. On a FWD you have 2 forces acting on the front wheels (drive and steering) if either causes a loss of traction you lose both drive and the ability to steer which is why if a FWD loses traction they tend to veer of to the side and applying the brakes makes the situation worse.
My mate who drives a BWM told me that the local dealer told him last winter that BMW were offering a winter wheel/tyre set as an option. Use the normal fitment wide low profile wheels/tyres until winter then swap to the narrower winter set.
Richard – thanks for your detailed explanation.
Thanks for the heads up. Must get some for emergencies!
No problem Robin – let me know how you get on.
Been thinking about getting some for the Bongo, although do you fit to the front or back on a 4wd vehicle?
James – no sure about that one, but I spoke to a helpful chap at Snowchains Europroducts regarding the right choice.
http://www.snowchains.co.uk or roofracks.co.uk – same company
In Finland you are supposed to use winter tyres during this time of the year, the law obliges you. There are two types of them. The tradional winter tyres have studs in them, and the other type are called friction tyres. It seems that these snow socks mimic the friction tyres.
Great writeup Mark. Am off to the Alps in Jan and was thinking about getting a set for my audi. I think I will purchase some. Chains are a pain in the backside! Especially when you have cold hands.
Thanks for your comments. I think that in some countries in Europe chains may be a legal requirement, so the socks may not be suitable.
Really useful writeup. I’ve used chains for years, but could easily be pursuaded to try these.
Happy motoring this winter!
Thanks Paul, they have been useful for me.
I bought the Weissock two years ago and theyt are great. I work about 15 mimutes drive (on a good day and an early start) and as I work on my own, I have to be in as I deal with spare parts for machinery and we have some big contracts that cannot be left with a machine that’s not working.
I managed to get into work through the heavy snow without any problems. Thankfully, I even managed to help out my neighbours with their shopping etc as I have a very elderly couple two doors away and a family with 2 very yoing kids next to me.
Easy to put on and take off and you can feel the car gripping the road. Advice: Do not drive over 30 MPH and if you are lucky enough to live in an area where they clear the main roads, then take them off once you get on to a clear road as the fabric will tear.
I have just bought a new car and am getting another set as the tyre size is different to my previous car! but have given my old set to a friend.
Good luck and safe driving.
Thanks for dropping, I was very pleased with mine, I was able to get out of my lane no problem. Some of my neighbours could not get out for a week during last winter. Well worth having.
Hi, so how is the wear and tear of the Weissocks?
Fine as long as you much sure stones are removed from the tyre before putting the socks on. Do not no use on the road without ice or snow.