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Socks and Chains

 Poster: A snowHead
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mooney058 wrote:
hang11 wrote:
New Zealand. We don't have proper roads up the mountains. We have goat tracks with no crash barriers with instant death drops off to the side Very Happy

Focuses the mind on not crashing. Nobody here uses winter tyres - never even seen them for sale. Only car I've seen going backwards this year was a Tiguan - driver was screwing it trying to get traction. Was bloody funny - he slid into a ditch and I stopped to see if he was ok and he said his 4wd system must have broken Very Happy


this is advice from your local mountain? Smile

https://www.nzski.com/media/2846/nzski-winter-and-alpine-driving-tips-2016.pdf

Doesn't mention winter tyres... only chains Puzzled Puzzled
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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mooney058 wrote:
also bearing in mind that dirt/gravel roads are non existent in Europe? Speeds and road surface conditions are differnt on a dirt road and on asphalt.

Driving to conditions and beeing equiped for conditions are equally important


Wouldn't have thought the road surface makes much difference when it's covered in snow and ice?

I've never actually used winter tyres, so can't comment on how effective they are, but do know that me and a couple of thousand of my neighbours manage to drive on sketchy snow covered roads every day with very little drama, by taking it easy. There's always the odd idiot that is the exception - nearly always tourists in rental cars.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Layne wrote:
mooney058 wrote:
hang11 wrote:
New Zealand. We don't have proper roads up the mountains. We have goat tracks with no crash barriers with instant death drops off to the side Very Happy

Focuses the mind on not crashing. Nobody here uses winter tyres - never even seen them for sale. Only car I've seen going backwards this year was a Tiguan - driver was screwing it trying to get traction. Was bloody funny - he slid into a ditch and I stopped to see if he was ok and he said his 4wd system must have broken Very Happy


this is advice from your local mountain? Smile

https://www.nzski.com/media/2846/nzski-winter-and-alpine-driving-tips-2016.pdf

Doesn't mention winter tyres... only chains Puzzled Puzzled


Never been to NZ so can not comment on their climate and driving conditions in mountain environment.

Heading in a few months tme to Japan and in Hokkaido I understand winter tyres are pretty standart
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hang11 wrote:
mooney058 wrote:
also bearing in mind that dirt/gravel roads are non existent in Europe? Speeds and road surface conditions are differnt on a dirt road and on asphalt.

Driving to conditions and beeing equiped for conditions are equally important


Wouldn't have thought the road surface makes much difference when it's covered in snow and ice?

I've never actually used winter tyres, so can't comment on how effective they are, but do know that me and a couple of thousand of my neighbours manage to drive on sketchy snow covered roads every day with very little drama, by taking it easy. There's always the odd idiot that is the exception - nearly always tourists in rental cars.


Funny enough, saw lots of idiots on summer tyres blocking traffic and causing accidents. Saw cars spinning in front of me both on a mountain road and on highways.

Just like summer tyres is not an insurance from accident in summer, same applies to winter tyres in winter. But accidents/deaths caused by inadequate equipment are not rare unfortunately
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@hang11, having experienced both I can say the difference on snow is enormous. But the main point is that the difference on tarmac in both wet and dry conditions is also enormous, and will make the difference between you rear ending the guy in front or not.
The other thing is that here at least your insurer will linely not pay up, and the police will chuck the book at you...
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"Carnage on the access roads"
"Nobody uses winter tyres"

2+2=4?
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I went out looking for some snow socks the other day for 155/65-14 tyres. Could not find any of that size. The closest I got to was 155/70-14.

Now I'm wondering whether those will fit as it still the same diameter and width of tyre.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Over the 13 years we have lived in the mountains we have evolved our tyres / chains / socks strategy, and we have gotten thru the last 4 winters with studs on the 2wd, and always just used M&S rated tyres on the Defender / Duster / Forrester / Freelander. Without ever fitting chains on any of the 4x4, and only in the 2wd before we went down the studs route. ( There was 20 cm of unploughed snow on our road this AM when I left, and everything was fine).
We got caught out last winter when the snow came in October, and we had not put the winter tyres on the 4x4, and it slid all over the shop. I worked as a driver for a few winters and was previously very sniffy about the merits of socks, and very pro-chains ( not fancy fit self- tightening ones which can ice up, but the ones that you tighten up after driving 20m or so.)
When we got caught out, in an out if character moment of panic, I bought some socks as a stop-gap (EUR 80 from NorAuto). I saw similar ones in a supermarket for EUR 40 about 15 minutes later, so bought them too, and took the others back claiming I had mistakenly got the wrong size.
I fitted the socks as soon as there was snow on the road, but before I had any grip issues.
The Carrefour socks were AMAZING.
They went on in seconds compared to the chains, they did not require tightening, there was no road noise or rumble.
Grip was excellent.
We used them quite a bit, as we had ordered our Winter tyres online, but the delivery was delayed several times as the driver could not get up the road because of the snow Smile
The socks take up very little space, and as they are APPROVED under NF ( Norme Française), these qualify as "équipements spéciaux" required under French law and fitted at the B26 sign mandating use chains.
However, according to the French Gendarmerie website, they do not count as a substitute for chains in "Extreme Conditions".
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Quote:

these qualify as "équipements spéciaux" required under French law and fitted at the B26 sign mandating use chains.
However, according to the French Gendarmerie website, they do not count as a substitute for chains in "Extreme Conditions".

The thing is, snow tyres count as "équipements spéciaux" too - but that doesn't stop the police insisting on chains too, when conditions are bad (in practice, when the roads are specially busy on big transfer days, when one stuck car causes chaos for hundreds). I've used chains a lot over the years - never used socks but from observation they can be very effective and are clearly much easier. In the most extreme conditions with masses of snow on the road in rutted heaps (never believe people who tell you that French mountain roads never have masses of snow in rutted heaps) they can be damaged and just lost. But that's rare. For an occasional trip I'd say that ordinary tyres plus socks are a sensible, low-risk (but not risk-free) option.
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I had a combination of winter tyres and socks and they were brilliant driving to the top of the town in Val T. I got them reasonably priced from roofbox.com. Top tip - I would buy earlier rather than later, once the Express puts out it's usual "Worst winter in 100 years" story they will fly off the shelf Evil or Very Mad
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pam w wrote:

The thing is, snow tyres count as "équipements spéciaux" too - but that doesn't stop the police insisting on chains too, when conditions are bad .

Although some B26 signs have an additional sign saying "pneus neige admis", many do not.
Ultimately its the Gendarmes who have to sort out the mess, so it seems right that they make the call on what equipment they think will allow you to continue your journey safely**.
Although in my experience this has been inconsistent.

(**Sometimes it is by Prefectoral decree)
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Since you asked:

Mesh-type chains (for example, Michelin Easy Grip composite), are the best solution, I think. I hate -- hate -- metal chains. They are too hard to put on because modern cars have very little clearance between the tire and wheel well. The problem with socks is that they do not work well in snow, in my experience. However, I've used them in ice and they work...OK. Also they will shred in about 30 minutes on asphalt.

As for tire choice: If it's really snowy/icy conditions, summer vs all season isn't much of a difference. You might get a few hundred meters higher in altitude with all season tires. Winter/snow tires: I see why you don't want to invest in them, but they will make a noticeable difference in "mixed" conditions -- areas of dry/wet/patches of snow/verglas etc.

The bottom line in France is that if you run into a control, you need chains (I think socks are OK, never encountered a control the one time I used them)
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Pasigal wrote:
The problem with socks is that they do not work well in snow, in my experience.

Mmmm, kinda of defeats the object doesn't it?

Pasigal wrote:
However, I've used them in ice and they work...

Do you mean compacted icy snow or literally ice?

Pasigal wrote:
OK. Also they will shred in about 30 minutes on asphalt.

But you shouldn't have socks or chains on if the tyres are on asphalt.

Pasigal wrote:
As for tire choice: If it's really snowy/icy conditions, summer vs all season isn't much of a difference. You might get a few hundred meters higher in altitude with all season tires. Winter/snow tires: I see why you don't want to invest in them, but they will make a noticeable difference in "mixed" conditions -- areas of dry/wet/patches of snow/verglas etc.

All season tyres are effectively a compromise. A way of getting through the year without switching your wheels/tyres. I can see why they make sense just driving in a lot of the UK but I think if you drive in more remote areas of the country and/or drive to the Alps then it still makes sense to get winters and do the switch. As you say they do cover a range of conditions.
[/quote]
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You know it makes sense.
Just to clarify about the socks -- they work fine in ice, or frozen slush, or even very hard packed snow, but not loose or deep snow.

As for shredding them -- if you've ever driven around a typical ski station, the main roads will be clear but the side roads and the hilly driveway to your chalet, or shady areas, will likely have some icy/hardpack areas. So for a short drive to a restaurant, I don't want to take off the chains and put them back on just to get back to the chalet. Hence -- I leave them on. The socks will get destroyed pretty fast whereas you can drive (slowly, of course) with metal/mesh chains for a few kms.

We agree on the all season tires.
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GixerGirl wrote:

Easy to fit, easier if someone stays in the drivers seat to turn the steering from side to side to ease putting them on and moving the car a little back and forth to get the last bit on. Just make sure you have the elastic on them right over the inside of the tyre all the way round before setting off. Even if they seem a little uneven as long at it is right over the whole tyre they will self level and pull themselves into place. Don't get caught out leaving them to the last minute on the main carriageway, put them on early if needs be in one the chain putting on places where you wont feel under any stress while putting them on. We have used them lots of times on ice and in deep snow on very steep roads in the alps and at home and have never been let down by them. Having said that when we changed the car two years ago we did buy snow tyres but not because we didn't have the confidence in the socks but more to do with motoring down through France and not getting caught out on the motorways and having to crawl at a snail's pace on summers if we hit winter conditions but I appreciate it is a lot of expense to go to for one trip and the height you are going to.

If your good lady is the one that will be putting them on (as is the case with me - hubby sits in the car and does the steering wheel bit) make sure she takes a pair of close fitting thin gloves to protect her manicure, snow sock fitting, nice nails and bare hands = potentially a chip or two. I prefer to fit them with bare hands as you get more of a feel when putting them on so therefore sensible length of manicure and clear nail varnish with back up emery board in the car just in case. Enjoy your trip, I know we will. Very Happy Toofy Grin Smile


snowHead snowHead snowHead I'm going to print this off for Ms Shaker snowHead snowHead snowHead
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Pasigal wrote:
Just to clarify about the socks -- they work fine in ice, or frozen slush, or even very hard packed snow, but not loose or deep snow.

As for shredding them -- if you've ever driven around a typical ski station, the main roads will be clear but the side roads and the hilly driveway to your chalet, or shady areas, will likely have some icy/hardpack areas. So for a short drive to a restaurant, I don't want to take off the chains and put them back on just to get back to the chalet. Hence -- I leave them on. The socks will get destroyed pretty fast whereas you can drive (slowly, of course) with metal/mesh chains for a few kms.

We agree on the all season tires.

Thanks for clarifying.
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Quote:

If it's really snowy/icy conditions, summer vs all season isn't much of a difference.

In my experience that is absolutely not the case. We have had Kleber all season tyres on for two years, they have the mountain/snowflake symbol denoting they qualify as fully-fledged winters, and in use there is no discernable difference between them and winter tyres we have had previously, and this use includes most of the season in the alps.
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@Pasigal, technically, if just icy or thin hardpack, chains are not advisable (although you probably get better traction) they are just really damaging to the road surface.
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@RobinS, This is what I am hearing. Tempts me for the next car.
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Have winter tyres and Michelin Easy Grip, but not yet used them in 4 winters. Had a practise fit, and very easy to fit.
Tesco sometimes sells MEG at stupidly low prices - mine were £13.
When summers tyres need replacing, I'll switch to Michelin Cross Climate+. And pester dealer on any new car to have car supplied with them.
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Quote:

Chains work only in deep snow. Slush or black ice and chains will not help much

That's not my experience. I find that chains help with any situation which calls for increased traction. Absolutely loads of French families drive to the Alps on summer tyres every year. But they tend to be pretty nifty with putting their chains on (and taking them off).
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RobinS wrote:
Quote:

If it's really snowy/icy conditions, summer vs all season isn't much of a difference.

In my experience that is absolutely not the case. We have had Kleber all season tyres on for two years, they have the mountain/snowflake symbol denoting they qualify as fully-fledged winters, and in use there is no discernable difference between them and winter tyres we have had previously, and this use includes most of the season in the alps.

So this is a true all year round tyre, that works as well as a summer tyre in summer and as well as a winter tyre in winter? Genuine question.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
No. All-seasons are never as good as summers in summer or winters in winter. The snowflake-and-mountain symbol is a good measure of winter capability but like any standard is only indicative. You can buy very cheap winter certified tyres or very expensive ones with a big difference between the two.

Not saying all-seasons like these aren’t a good solution for those in warmer areas who rarely see snow. But they’re never as good as ‘proper’ winters in colder areas or in snowy conditions.

Similarly all-seasons may be entirely suitable if you don’t have a performance model and you’d not see a noticeable difference in normal driving. But as your model gets into the performance bracket then you do notice the difference.
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Layne wrote:
RobinS wrote:
Quote:

If it's really snowy/icy conditions, summer vs all season isn't much of a difference.

In my experience that is absolutely not the case. We have had Kleber all season tyres on for two years, they have the mountain/snowflake symbol denoting they qualify as fully-fledged winters, and in use there is no discernable difference between them and winter tyres we have had previously, and this use includes most of the season in the alps.

So this is a true all year round tyre, that works as well as a summer tyre in summer and as well as a winter tyre in winter? Genuine question.


Only had experience of Goodyear vectors on an S-max
Hugely improved traction on ice, snow, slush, standing water compared to summer tyres
Some increase in road noise
No detectable change in fuel economy
Lasted 10% less than summers (20k vs 22k)

Before fitting the Vectors, we found that snow socks worked well in all conditions, including deep snow

Interestingly, given the school of thought of using narrower tyres in winter, the S-max on its full width all seasons got through deep snow and deep semi packed snow much better than our Transit on much narrower winter tyres, the wide tyres allowed the S-max to float over the snow whilst the tranny just sank.
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Yes to socks-have used them in the U.K. when we had those two consecutive snowy winters around 09/10 on my mini Clubman. One one occasion I did around 50 miles up a snowy M40. Piece of cake to put on and off, much easier than chains (have used both), and better in the slush.
Snow tyres defintely worth the expense if you are using a car a lot. Effectively they render the need to use chains almost non existent.
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@Layne,

Quote:

RobinS wrote:





Quote:




If it's really snowy/icy conditions, summer vs all season isn't much of a difference.






In my experience that is absolutely not the case. We have had Kleber all season tyres on for two years, they have the mountain/snowflake symbol denoting they qualify as fully-fledged winters, and in use there is no discernable difference between them and winter tyres we have had previously, and this use includes most of the season in the alps.




So this is a true all year round tyre, that works as well as a summer tyre in summer and as well as a winter tyre in winter? Genuine question.


On the (low performance - Fiat Qubo) vehicle we now have the Klebers have genuinely seemed to be as good as winters in the winter, and perfectly fine in the summer. After 20,000 miles the rears have hardly worn at all, and the fronts are down to about 4mm - will use them for early season trip, but replace them before our main three month trip.
These are the only all-seasons I have used, but on the basis of these I will now allways use all seasons rather than the twice a year tyre swap.
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@RobinS, @Layne, @under a new name, we used Kleber Quadraxer all-season snowflake-graded tyres on our old Octavia. Not quite up to full winter tyre performance but very good in winter. However, definitely poorer dry-road summer roadholding (in a very low performance car!). If we'd driven many miles in the warmer months I'd have swapped them out.

Of course, all very subjective and I'm sure varies by car, road, temperature, tyre size etc.
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@LaForet, what is a “performance” model?

Most cars are well into what would be considered “performance” in, say, 1990.
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Whatever winters we have on our Nissan Murano are quieter and more efficient than our summers. I wouldn’t swap except, well, we do Puzzled
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Some manufacturers develop a full winter tyre but then market it as an all season due to it not having a bad summer performance (Nokian spring to mind). I have two sets, the ones below 5mm tread get used as summers while I keep the newest for winter. Performance wise, I've got up steep roads with no problems while the ski buses have chains on (I am out there all winter) but I still get 20K miles plus on a pretty high performance all wheel drive car.
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under a new name wrote:
@LaForet, what is a “performance” model?


Some of my comments and the article I wrote on Winter Wheels and Tyres (http://www.babybmw.net/howtos/Winter%20Wheels%20Guide%202%20Series%20v2.pdf) has been - reasonably - criticised because the arguments for spending money on a set of winter tyres or wheels+tyres are perhaps not so strong if you have a more 'mainstream' vehicle.

I've got a 330 BHP RWD car which I'd say was a 'performance' model, and as I take it to the Alps each winter, often more than once, it makes sense to spend money on a full set of wheels+tyres. Basically for me it's a no-brainer. But I appreciate that the cost/benefit/risk analysis is much harder to judge if you don't have this level of performance and perhaps only go to the Alps once a year or less.

I always try and be balanced but for anyone asking on a Skiing forum, then I assume they're driving to the Alps/Pyrenees, and really, to me this is the deciding factor in going for winter tyres (if not tyres+wheels too). In a way, this is much easier than for someone on a UK motoring forum who is asking whether they're justified if they only drive in the UK.

Unfortunately, the OP has a really difficult decision as his is a one-off situation. I'd say that if he can't justify winter tyres, then yes, socks are a reasonable back-up. But they're not going to help in mixed tarmac/slush/snow. You can bet that if he buys a set of winter tyres for the one trip, the weather will be glorious with not a flake of snow on the road anywhere. Conversely .....

The worst drive I've had in recent years was around Lake Geneva in slush but with mini-walls of slushy snow piled-up between the lanes on the Autoroute. Everyone else was driving like it was midsummer and skidding a bit as they changed lanes. I was on winters on an xDrive 3 Series and it was bad enough. I really don't know that I could have driven it on summers, and socks would have been shredded. Plus I would have been The Guy Doing 45Kph when everyone else was rushing to work. It was actually an easier drive over the Jura Mtns. to Pontarlier because at least the road surface was consistently snow above 400m.
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