In some parts of Europe, it’s actually a legal requirement for drivers to carry a set of winter tyres with them.  Although that’s not the case here in the UK, you should think about whether you’d benefit from having a set of winter tyres, chains or socks.

Now that we’re heading into winter, the roads will steadily become more treacherous.  Having all-year-round tyres is a good start, but winter tyres will be far more effective.  Especially if you live in a remote location, where the roads aren’t as likely to be gritted.

Getting tyres, chains or socks all depends on where you live, what your budget is, and what sort of roads you’ll be driving on.  Have a look at some of the winter tyre options and see which ones would suit you best.

Winter Tyres
Winter tyres are specifically designed to help you when the weather starts getting chillier.  Especially in wet, icy and snowy conditions.  Winter tyres are made from a different material and have more natural rubber in them than summer tyres, which means that they’re less affected by the cold temperatures.  They don’t harden as easily, and are a bit more flexible and grippy on the cold roads.  On top of this, the tread has more grooves in, so that you get that extra added grip when you need it most.  This will also help when it comes to braking and accelerating.

The great thing about winter tyres is that you only have to fit them once, and then they’ll last throughout the winter months.  Whereas chains and socks will have to be repeatedly placed on and removed.

You’ll also benefit from using winter tyres if you:

  • Want more grip and safety on slippery roads
  • Need help accelerating and braking in snow
  • Will be driving in weather that drops below 7°C
  • Want more assistance if your car tends to skid

Remember that winter tyres need to be fitted on all wheels, and not just one or two.  Otherwise they won’t be as effective, and they’ll affect the balance and stability of the car.  They may be more expensive than socks and chains, but the benefits definitely outweigh the cost.

Snow Chains
Snow chains are devices that fit directly onto your wheels, to provide maximum grip.  However, you should only use chains when the road is completely covered in snow or ice.

Before you attach the snow chains to your tyres, you’ll need to check your car manual which will show you how to put them on.  Remember, snow chains add to the size of your wheels, so if they’re too big, you could end up severely damaging parts of your car.  Also, snow chains can be a little awkward to fit and remove, so give it a practice first.

Once they’re on, you should turn your traction control or anti-skid off.  Drive gently, keeping your speed down, not braking or accelerating too harshly.

You’ll benefit from having snow chains if the roads where you live aren’t gritted, and often have a pile of up compact ice and snow on the roads during winter.  Only get snow chains if you’re willing to get out of your car halfway through a journey and take the snow chains off when you reach gritted or salted roads.  Ultimately they are cheaper than winter tyres, and will give you good grip on snow compacted roads.

Snow Socks
Snow socks are much like snow chains, in that they are placed on top of your wheels, and can be taken off when needed.  You can get any size to fit your wheels, and it gives you added grip when driving on ice or snow, through its specially developed material.

Snow socks are best used after an unexpected snow storm, or to get yourself out of a tricky or hazardous situation if you get stuck on the snowy or icy roads.  Of course, like the snow chains, once you reach a gritted or salted road, you’ll have to take the snow socks off.  Otherwise the socks will be worn down rapidly.

You’ll benefit from snow socks by keeping them in your boot, and putting them on your wheels for the occasional snow emergency.  They aren’t a substitute for winter tyres, and they won’t be as effective as snow chains in the more severe winter weather.  They’re a much cheaper alternative to winter tyres.


As well as getting some tyres to keep you safe through winter, make sure your car is in top condition with a cheap car service, to get your car ‘winter ready’.  And if you’re close by to Hippo Motor Group, you can bring your car to us for car servicing in Blackburn.