Snow socks: what they are, what they are for and when to use them

Snow socks: what they are, what they are for and when to use them

Snow socks

During the coldest periods of the year, the theme linked to the obligation to use winter tires becomes very topical again, with the need to change tires, or even chains to be able to circulate in some areas of the Village. From this winter season, however, it is permissible to dwell carefully also on the snow socks for cars, also called "autosocks", non-slip means to be mounted on your car if necessary in order to be able to circulate on sections where the regulatory obligation is in force.

Snow socks have some substantial differences with snow chains, due to the construction characteristics and real performance, even if the purpose for which they are used is practically identical. Since 2022, after a long journey (the debut of the first snow socks models dates back to 2003), Italian legislation has implemented some EU directives regarding the use of snow socks for cars. So let's see what snow socks for cars are, what they are for and when they should be used:

What snow socks are and what they are for

Snow socks for tires of cars are special covers made of polyester that allow a car to be able to move easily on snowy roads, like what happens with chains. It is, therefore, an anti-slip device that can guarantee a car equipped with summer tires the possibility of facing the roads during the winter period without too many problems.

Installing snow socks on a car is a very simple operation (especially compared to installing chains). This aspect has allowed the snow socks to acquire a certain interest in the eyes of many motorists. The diffusion of these devices, however, was severely limited by the absence of precise legislation in Italy which guaranteed their homologation and their use in place of snow chains.

When using snow socks

Car snow socks have the function of making it passable, reducing highly risks, snow-covered road sections during the autumn or winter period. As for the chains, having snow socks on board (and installing them if necessary, based on the regulatory obligations that are activated during the "cold" periods of the year in some Italian areas) represents a necessity to be able to circulate in safety in winter.

In Italy, in order to circulate on certain sections of road it is compulsory to have winter tires (or "all season" solutions) suitable for tackling snowy or icy surfaces. The legislation provides for the possibility of replacing winter tires with non-slip means to be fitted if necessary. The category of non-slip means includes chains and, as required by the new legislation, also snow socks.

The obligation starts every year on November 15th and ends only on the following April 15th.

What is the difference between chains and snow socks?

Snow socks, while having the same purpose as chains, have unique characteristics that highlight a big difference with car snow chains. As previously pointed out, snow socks for cars are made of polyester, a material that allows you to drive on snow-covered stretches with greater safety than a summer tyre. However, polyester is highly subject to wear and tear and makes snow socks significantly less durable than snow chains.

The wear of the snow socks is accentuated if the vehicle on which they are fitted has to face stretches of road that are not completely covered in snow. Unlike chains, therefore, snow socks are cheap but also more subject to wear. This aspect entails for the motorist the need to replace the snow socks very frequently compared to what happens with chains.

The use of snow socks, therefore, must be accompanied by a particular be careful in order to avoid rapid wear of the device. The greater resistance of the chains represents a parameter to be taken into strong consideration in the event that one opts for the transition to socks, which are more "fragile" and to be used with greater care, especially when the road surface is not completely covered in snow.

Why use snow socks for cars during the winter?

With the latest regulatory update, snow socks for cars have become an alternative for all motorists who have to face roads where there is an obligation to use winter tires or anti-slip devices. Snow socks can count on two main advantages over other options available to motorists. The first advantage is represented by the low purchase cost. In fact, to obtain these devices, a cost of a few tens of euros is required.

Then there is the simplicity of assembly to consider, an aspect that can represent a plus especially for motorists who do not have a familiar with fitting snow chains. These two advantages, therefore, make snow socks for cars a particularly suitable option for all motorists who pass through areas where winter tires are mandatory but who, realistically, will rarely face snow-covered roads.

Since when have snow socks for cars been approved?

The approval of snow socks for cars has gone through a very difficult regulatory process. The first commercial solutions of this type of product date back to about 20 years ago. The debut of the first snow socks, signed by the Norwegian company Autosock Operations, dates back to 2003. Following the EU provisions, the ok to use snow socks has also arrived in Italy starting from 2022. In fact, the new regulatory framework equalizes the functioning of snow socks and chains.

The Italian legislation will be officially adapted only from the beginning of 2023 but already from 15 November, with the start of the obligation to use of winter equipment, it will be possible to use snow socks. The UNI EN 16662-1:2020 approval, already obtained some time ago by various models on the market, decrees the possibility of using snow socks for cars on the road. To obtain this approval, the snow socks must have passed a long series of tests. These are the same tests to which snow chains are subjected. The devices that receive approval can be used on roads where snow chains or winter tires are mandatory.

Credits: aslidop via Reddit

What is the price some snow socks for cars?

The snow socks for cars on the market generally have a very affordable price. Among the models that have already obtained approval for use on the road during the period in which the regulatory obligation is in force, prices may vary but it is not difficult to find snow socks for cars at a good price. In general, in fact, these devices cost less than 100 euros with an expense that often stands at around 50 euros.

Snow socks for cars: the FAQ

When is a car not suitable for chains?

Not all cars are suitable for chains or are compatible with the installation of snow chains. Cars that have little space between the wheel and the suspension or wheel arch are called "non-chainable". Motorists can check this aspect of their car by consulting the vehicle's Owner's and Maintenance Booklet and reading the relevant information under the heading "wheels and tyres". For non-chainable cars, there is the possibility of focusing on snow socks as an alternative solution to comply with the regulatory obligation between November 15th and April 15th.

What are the costs of the socks for snow?

Snow socks have moderately low prices. With a cost of around 50 euros, in fact, it is possible to purchase a kit of snow socks for cars to have on board, to comply with regulatory obligations, and to install if necessary.

Where install snow socks?

Snow socks are installed directly on the tire, covering the top and side of the driving tire. Subsequently, by moving the car about half a meter, it will be possible to cover the still exposed part of the rubber. The snow socks will automatically center on the tire once the car is moving.

When to use the snow socks?

The snow socks must be kept on board to comply the regulatory obligation relating to the use of winter equipment for the car which starts on November 15th of each year and ends on the following April 15th . The motorist must then fit snow socks if the conditions of the road surface require the use of an anti-slip device. In case of snow, therefore, it will be necessary to use snow socks if your car is not equipped with winter or all season tyres.

Up to what speed can I use snow socks for cars ?

Once the snow socks are fitted, the car is subject to stringent speed limits. In fact, as envisaged by the Highway Code, a maximum speed of 50 km/h must not be exceeded in order to be able to circulate with regularly approved snow socks.

How long does it take to fit snow socks ?

Fitting the snow socks takes a few minutes. The first few times it may be necessary to allow for a few tens of minutes to complete the assembly on all wheels. With experience, however, the assembly times of snow socks for cars will drastically reduce.

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