If you battle driving in slippery, snowy winter conditions, a set of snow tires can be a big help. Just know they will cost you. Snow tire sets commonly cost more than $600—and sometimes much higher than that.
Fortunately, there are alternatives if you’re looking for something less expensive or you just don’t need a full set of snow tires. Below are some of the more popular options out there. Before you invest in any one, it’s important to review the laws in your local area. Some alternatives–like chains–may be prohibited.
- Studded tires: Studded tires are fitted with lightweight metal studs. Studded tires are more adept at gaining traction on ice, yet not as efficient in traversing snow unless the snow is hard-packed. Consider the winter driving conditions you most often face to determine if studded tires are right for you. Also know that studded tires are similar in price to snow tires.
- Tire chains: Metal chains wrapped across tires can provide additional traction. However, many states have outlawed chains because of the damage they do to roads. The speed at which you drive is important when considering chains as well. Chain makers commonly warn against exceeding certain speed limits—which can be as low as 30 miles per hour. If you’re considering chains, first make sure they are legal in your area. Then make sure you understand their recommended speed limit and whether that that limit will work with your driving style. Tire chains are typically a fraction of the cost of snow tires.
- Snow socks: As an alternative to chains, reusable snow socks pull over the wheel like a pillow cover to form a tight fit once they are strapped down. The socks get their grip from specially designed textiles and from the friction the spinning wheel causes. Snow socks exist for everything from buses to Beetles, making them a versatile option. Snow socks typically cost about half as much as snow tires.
The options listed above are three of the more popular winter traction alternatives to snow tires. Before purchasing any of them, make sure the option is legal in your state or region and that it is compatible with your vehicle’s make and model.
Still going the snow tire route? Then learn five important snow tire tips in the next and final post.