Textile Snow Chains: What They Are, Why You Need Them and How to Use

You're getting ready for winter driving, and you know you need a traction help for snow and ice. Meet the modern alternative to traditional metallic chains: textile snow chains. These lightweight "snow socks" are the new generation of winter traction devices. Made of textile, it is pulled over the driving wheels of cars, vans, trucks, buses and forklifts when additional grip is needed in winterly driving conditions. In this article, we'll show you how snow socks work their magic and why they're the new must-have for winter drivers. We'll cover the benefits over metal chains, tips for getting the right fit, and recommendations for the correct use. Driving in snow doesn't need to be stressful with the right gear. Read on to learn why tyre socks should be in every driver's kit this winter for New Zealand.

What Are Textile Snow Chains?

Textile snow chains, also known as snow socks, are fabric traction devices you place over your tyres, giving your car excellent grip on snow and ice. Snow socks are made of a high-performance fabric and are considered an alternative to metallic snow chains.

How Do They Work?

The textiles used for AutoSock snow socks are designed to provide optimal traction on snow and ice-covered roads. The arrangement of fine fibres in the road contact fabric allows it to absorb and wick away water between the ground surface and the tyre tread, thereby maximizing dry friction for improved grip. Each thread contains over 100 high-performance fibres, creating a "fuzzy" surface texture on the road contact fabric of the tyre sock. These thin fibres penetrate any slippery water films to connect the tyre directly to the roadway, even in snow-covered conditions. With proper usage over time, the fibres become even "hairier", further enhancing the product's traction capabilities.

How To Install Tyre Socks?

The installation of textile snow chains is a straightforward process. Please follow these steps for AutoSock fabric chains:

  1. Position AutoSock over the top half of the tyre. Pull the socks down as far as the tyre will allow.
  2. Roll the vehicle forward approximately half a rotation of the wheel.
  3. Pull the remaining part of the snow sock over the bottom half of the tyre.

Notes: AutoSock is designed to self-centre while driving in snowy conditions. Be sure to remove snow socks before driving the vehicle on cleared road surfaces.

More information about the installation for front, rear and four-wheel driven vehicles, find in this blog article.

The Benefits of Using Textile Tyre Chains

The Product Advantages in Short

Snow socks offer several advantages over traditional snow chains. They are:

  • Quick to install, easy to remove, self-centring. Forget about the heavy and complicated installation process with metallic snow chains, often resulting in a lengthy delay and sometimes frostbitten fingers.
  • Smooth and silent during use. Vibration-free, unlike traditional metallic solutions.
  • Compatible with electronic safety systems (ABS, ESP, etc.).
  • Compatible with alloy rims, even when metal chains are prohibited. No more scratches on your new rims.
  • Lightweight and easy to store.
  • Reusable and machine washable.

Easy to Put on and Take Off

Unlike traditional metal snow chains that require understanding of complicated mechanisms, textile snow chains are easy to put on and take off. AutoSock snow socks can be mounted in three simple steps as described above.

Protects Rims

The soft and flexible material of textile snow chains protects alloy rims from scratches and damage. Metal chains, on the other hand, can scratch and gouge rims, requiring expensive repairs. The textile material of snow socks provide traction without harming your wheel rims or tyres.

Precise Fitting

Textile snow chains like AutoSock come in many different sizes based on databases of tyre sizes worldwide. This means you don't have to worry about metallic chains that might not fit your vehicle precisely and may even damage the wheelhouse.

With the help of the tyre's width, the profile (aspect ratio), and the wheel size diameter obtained from either the tyre code or from measuring, the correct AutoSock model for your car can be determined through an online size finder. Only with this dimension accuracy, the highest product functionality of AutoSock can be guaranteed. Behind the online size finder is a continuously updated database with thousands of tyre dimension combinations. The snow socks from AutoSock cover more than 98 percent of all tyres in the market.

No Damage to Roads

Unlike metal chains, textile snow chains do not damage roads or produce sparks. They are also fully reusable and recyclable. At the end of their lifespan, the materials can be recycled. This makes them a more environmentally responsible option.

Textile snow chains provide an easy, effective solution for gaining control of your vehicle in winter weather without the downsides of traditional metal chains. Keep a set in your trunk this winter for maximum safety and confidence on snowy roads.

Find out more about the different tyre types and the impact of textile tyre chains here. 

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Snow Socks

How durable are fabric tire chains?

The durability of textile snow chains depends on various factors, including the product itself, its material quality, and the testing standards used. AutoSock routinely conducts rigorous testing, both internally and through third parties, to ensure product resilience. To achieve certification under the updated EN16662-1:2020 standard, AutoSock must pass at least 120km on dry asphalt without any safety-related issues. Additionally, durability is assessed on snow-covered test tracks over hundreds of kilometres. AutoSock warrants proper usage when instructions are followed closely. By avoiding unnecessary wheel spin and limiting use to snowy surfaces only, the product's lifespan can be optimized. Proper installation and care according to included directions will result in long-lasting performance.

Can I use tyre socks when snow chains are mandatory? 

Textile snow traction devices such as AutoSock are accepted alternatives to metal snow chains in New Zealand.
AutoSock is a permissible substitute for snow chains on cars and trucks across North America, Europe, and Asia. AutoSock has been certified under the latest standards, including the new European winter traction standard EN16662-1:2020 for passenger cars. Consequently, AutoSock represents the authorized alternative to snow chains in all member states of the European Union except Austria. Additionally, AutoSock is officially accepted in Switzerland when snow chains are compulsory.

Should tyre socks be mounted on the front or rear wheels?

Traction devices should be installed on the driving wheels. For vehicles with front-wheel drive, textile chains like AutoSock should be installed on the front wheels.

Rear-wheel drive vehicles should have traction devices installed on the rear wheels. To improve braking and steering performance, it is recommended to also install traction devices on the front wheels. Please refer to the vehicle owner's manual for instructions regarding approved traction devices and wheel fitment. Some vehicle manufacturers do not permit the use of traction devices on front wheels.

These questions are only a selection of the extended FAQ section from our website.

Snow Socks vs… Performance Comparison of Tyre Socks to Winter Tyres and Metallic Chains

Winter tyres are a prudent choice during cold weather months but have limitations. While they provide enhanced traction compared to all-season tyres, winter tyres can still lose grip when braking or accelerating on steep inclines covered in snow or ice. AutoSock is an effective solution that helps overcome these limitations.

Used in conjunction with winter tyres, AutoSock allows drivers to safely ascend steeper grades and control descents when roads are slippery. In many wintry conditions, particularly ice, AutoSock can provide better performance than traditional snow chains. AutoSock gives drivers added confidence and control in inclement conditions.

AutoSock is an accepted alternative to snow chains in New Zealand and meets or exceeds the safety and durability standards of all major snow chain regulations worldwide.

Read more about the comparison between snow socks and metallic tyre chains here.


This concludes the overview of snow socks. While they may appear somewhat unconventional and their construction may seem inadequate for their intended function, one should refrain from judgment until using them. For many drivers who only sporadically encounter snow and ice, snow socks can significantly improve conditions. They provide extra traction when needed most, are simple to don and doff, and can be compactly stored. Consider utilizing snow socks this New Zealand winter season. Now go experience the conditions, appreciate the journey, and stay safe.