Nice socks

Motor Writer has had a pair of Multi Grip for a couple of months and we have been looking forward to doing a proper review – in daylight with time to read the instructions. However, after a meeting in South Manchester last night I headed east for the hills. The snow came down and the half-worn Continentals had reached their limit of capability. Here are the results of a very real test.

What are snow socks?

They are nylon wheel covers which provide additional grip in snow. They’re not a substitute for winter tyres or snow chains in extremis but they are targeted as a get-you-home solution when caught-out. Short distances over tarmac are possible but this will reduce the life of the socks.

What were the conditions like?

By the time I left the motorway, it was completely covered, as were the A-roads.  It was possible to hold a slow, steady pace but after a couple of miles the road became less flat. And this is where the problems started. On the descents, cars tended bunch then go for it, one at a time. Too close were the snaking vehicles trying to climb those same hills. And this is the point at which I decided to try the snow socks.

How easy are they to put on?

They took some wrestling. They fit pretty snugly – meaning they are unlikely to come off – but it is rather fiddly to nurse them over the tyres. The technique is to put on the top half, drive forwards a couple of feet then fit the other side. I managed to get half of each on the front, driven wheels of the Saab and then had to redo the work after spinning them in an effort to move at all. Second time I was gentler and I managed to get the other halves on. Lack of clearance on my 9-5 due to its slightly lowered sports suspension plus the wheel arch liners meant there is little room to get hands in to work. About 20 minutes (and some grubby cuffs) later, we were up and running. I didn’t actually break the skin but I’ve a couple of bruised knuckles to show for it.

After half a mile, I pulled over into a garage forecourt (pictured) to double-check the socks. All was well.

Are snow socks any good?

My first challenge was a gentle descent which had ordinarily-shod vehicles twitching on the couple of inches of compacted snow. The Saab was easy to brake and didn’t put a wheel wrong. On the flat, my biggest concern was the car behind which was much too close;  I knew I could stop in a far shorter distance. In the end, I pulled into a bus stop to let him past. The Saab pulled-off from a standstill in fresh snow with ease.

Next came a steep, winding descent – about a one-in-ten. By this stage, some drivers were abandoning their vehicles and heading off on foot. The snow socks allowed gentle braking to keep the speed down and again I maintained full control.

On a clear section of road, I tried a heavy foot to see what margin there was; the wheels would spin but with a sensible throttle they were fine.

The last leg of my journey is a steep, twisting ascent – something like a one-in-six. From the tyre tracks, it had had a couple of failed attempts to go up and some hairy slithering down. I pointed the Saab’s long nose where I wanted to head and – to the surprise of some pedestrians – did the whole lot without one slip or a single flash of the traction control light.

Would I have reached home without them?

Absolutely not.

Would I recommend them?



Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○

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