Tire Socks: What Is That?

Tire Socks: What Is That?

"Tire socks" is a term that has become more and more popular among drivers and motorists. Many know them as "Snowsocks" and they look like textile covers that would be used for their storage. But, they actually have another purpose. Tire socks have the role of increasing the traction and stability of the vehicle in winter conditions. If all these tire socks generate so much confusion, why not explain their role and mode of operation in detail? Say no more, let's see what these represent.

What Are Tire Socks For?

What is the first thing that comes to your mind if you need increased traction in harsh winter? Many of you will mention studded tires and tire chains. Well, these are also the right answers because they improve the vehicle's stability and capabilities in conditions of packed snow and ice. In this context, tire socks have the same purpose of increasing traction power and reducing the risk of slipping in harsh winters.

Those who have already managed to wear tire socks mention that they are even more effective than chains. It's hard to believe it considering that tire socks are made of textiles while chains are usually made of metal. However, let's see what are the advantages and disadvantages of this popular technology. Also, we should figure out how it stands out when compared with traditional technologies such as studs and chains.

Tire Socks Specifics

First, we must understand that Snow Socks are an emergency measure, just like tire chains. In other words, tire socks are an alternative to traditional chains that can only be used when necessary, and by no means permanently. As such, drivers can use snow socks when they have to cross a difficult road, full of snow blocks.

The good part of this technology is that snow socks are a solution that completely solves winter driving issues even with all-season tires on. More than that, they do great even on summer tires if, for some reason, the driver ends up driving with them in winter conditions, which is not recommendable at all.

As for winter tires, well, these already have everything a tire needs for safe and confident winter traction. A winter tire does great with snow and ice on its own thanks to the deep tread, plenty of biting edges, and structural elasticity. Still, certain difficult winter conditions make drivers turn to additional equipment to enhance traction. Which is more appropriate then: Socks or Chains? Well, let's see what the tests show. For this, we turned to Tire Review to give us some insights about the tests they recently did in this regard.

Tire Chains VS Socks In Snow Acceleration

Tire Review is an unbiased platform that specializes in testing and comparing various products in various conditions. We are used to being guided by this platform because we find it very objective and trustworthy. Long story short, the respective team tested the performance of the tires in snow conditions with both chains and socks.

The results indicate a slightly more intense acceleration with snow socks on. If we talk in numbers, then the tires reach 9 mph in 3.5 seconds. On the other hand, the acceleration of the tires with chains on takes place in 3.7 seconds at the same threshold. With only 0.2 seconds faster, snow socks provide a little more tenacious acceleration. However, we must admit that the difference is insignificant.

Tire Chains VS Socks In Snow Braking

If we are to talk about the significant difference, then this refers to braking. In these conditions, tire chains take a substantial lead. Snow braking at a speed of about 12 mph is 13.5 meters with chains on compared to 14.7 meters with socks on. Thus, we are talking about a difference of more than a meter at a speed of only 12 mph! Imagine the difference in the context of a speed of 50 mph!

Chains VS Socks In Ice Acceleration

Acceleration on ice proved to be more agile in the case of tires with chains. The difference, by the way, is substantial this time and we are talking about an acceleration of only 1.4 seconds with chains on and 5.4 seconds with snow socks on.

Chains VS Socks In Ice Braking

While acceleration might not be the number one priority in ice conditions, ice braking certainly is. Here the difference is substantial and stands out in favor of tire chains. The braking distance at a speed of 10 mph of chained tires is 4.4 meters, according to tests. On the other hand, sock tires brake at 11.4 m at the same speed, which means a gap of more than 2 times greater. Again, keep in mind that we are talking about a speed of only 10 mph. What would be the risks at a speed of 50 mph?!

Bottom Line

The conclusion is, first of all, that we must equip ourselves with suitable winter tires. They do much better in challenging snow conditions than all-season or any other tire type. If, however, the hard winter makes driving difficult, tire chains provide safer driving than tire snow socks, as you saw in the previous tests.

On the whole, tire snow socks are about as reliable in snow as tire chains. However, we must admit that braking on ice and snow is much lower than that of tires with chains on. Either way, our goal is not to favor one or another safety equipment. Our goal is to inform you about the hidden risks you are subject to if you make the incorrect choice. After all, tire chains also have several disadvantages that I talked about previously. So, both equipments are accompanied by pros and cons in equal measure.

At the end of the day, it is important to correctly estimate how difficult the winter conditions are in the area where you live. If thick ice prevails, you would probably do well to opt for tire chains. If it is predominantly a lot of snow, tire snow socks are a great way to ensure safe driving.

Tire Snow Socks: FAQs

How Do Tire Snow Socks Remove Snow And Water If There Is No Tread?

Tire snow socks indeed look like "winter slicks" as they are treadless. But their mechanism of action does not consist of biting through the snow as in the case of winter tire tread or chains. The point is that snow, regardless of its condition, sticks very well to the tire sock. As such, traction and grip actually come from "snow on snow" contact rather than biting capabilities.

Are Snow Socks As Good As Chains?

The results of the tests showed that tire chains are, in most cases, more efficient than tire snow socks. Still, socks are almost as effective if we talk about acceleration properties in snow more than on ice. In addition, it would be good to take into account the size of the vehicle and the distance to be covered. Commercial vehicles, for example, will perform safer with chains than with socks. A passenger vehicle would do well enough with tire socks. After all, it is not a bad idea to keep both in the trunk because they are not expensive. Whenever on harsh snow, use socks. Whenever on ice, you use the chains.

Do You Put Snow Socks On All 4 Tires?

Yes, it is highly recommended to install snow socks on all tires. This increases traction, optimizes braking distance, and elevates vehicle stability in severe snow conditions.

Can I Leave Snow Socks On Overnight?

Specialists recommend taking snow socks off your tires overnight. The socks are made of material that absorbs moisture from the snow on which they roll. This moisture might freeze overnight, which reduces their efficiency.

How Long Do Tire Snow Socks Last?

Even though they are made of material, tire snow socks are quite durable. They can serve up to 400 miles. To ensure their serviceability, it is important to use them correctly. This means not leaving them on the tires overnight so they don't freeze, not using them on dry snowless roads, and taking into account other maintenance tips recommended by the manufacturer.

Are There Any Disadvantages With Tire Snow Socks?

As in the case of advantages, both chains and snow socks have some disadvantages. Each driver will decide which safety equipment suits him better after weighing the pros and cons of both options.

Why Trust US?

NeoTires has 2 main purposes. The first is to offer attractive tire deals so that any driver can afford high-quality tires at affordable prices. For this, we negotiate with various reputable tire makers so that we can offer advantageous conditions for our customers.

The second goal is to contribute to improving the driving experience of all those behind the wheel. We know how important tires are for safe and efficient driving. For this reason, we study and evaluate tires from different perspectives to know which models provide the highest performance and the most reliable safety levels.

Our team is made up of enthusiasts and specialists from the tire industry who will gladly assist you in any tire-related matter. We provide you with a wide catalog of reputable brands and top-notch products so that you can sleep in maximum safety. Also, we are here to guide you on how to match the right tires with your specific driving needs, which is extremely important for a safe driving experience in all conditions. Drive safe and choose your tires and accessories wisely!


Brian Darr is a passion-driven enthusiast who has become an expert in the tire industry. His passion for rubber started with his first driving experience. He firmly believes that the performance and safety of any vehicle are due, first of all, to the quality of the tires mounted on it.
Leave your comment

Need live support?

  • Mon - Fri: 8am - 7pm ET
  • Sat: 9am - 5pm ET
  • Sun: Closed