Autosocks vs Rud Centrax Chains
What do you do when you car has no traction in the snow?
I live at the bottom of a very steep cul-de-sac in Colorado where it can get quite snowy and icy in the winter time. In fact, I consider my street the benchmark for testing whether or not any car is equipped to handle the winter streets. For two years, I’ve been able to negotiate my street – just barely, in my rear wheel drive BMW. This last week, my 1997 RWD, 540i with Traction Control finally met it’s match. The single digit temperatures combined with the icy snow-packed accumulation of the last two December snow storms were too much. I was unable to get my car up the street and nothing I tried worked, including backing into my driveway, revving up the motor and attempt at speeding up the hill full charge. Due to the continued cold temps, along with the fact my street never gets sanded, I was forced to car pool for a couple of days while I did some research on tire traction. My conclusion basically came down to four options:
Options for Dealing with Winter Roads:
- Buy an All Wheel Drive car
- Buy Studded Snow Tires for your car
- Buy Rud Centrax Tire Chains for your car
- Buy Autosocks for your car
I didn’t even know about the 4th option until I ruled out the first two:
Option One: I’m not ready to pay thousands of dollars on a new car or acquire a new lease payment.
Option Two: My odd sized tires (225-40-R18), ruled out buying affordable snow tires or studded tires. A pair of Glisaved or Blizzak Studded Snow Tires would set me back about $600, and even at that outrageous price would have to be ordered from the factory and could take days or weeks to get them installed. Besides who really wants to spend $600 on a pair of tires to be used exclusively for snowy weather? Denver weather is very diversified. It’s not entirely unusual to go four straight weeks or more without snow. Besides being unable to get me up the hill, my Bimmer’s Sports tires were just fine. So, what I really needed was just an insurance policy; a way to guarantee that I could get my 540i up my own street or out of other tight, icy spots when necessary. I decided to look into tire chains.
Option 3: Rud Centrax Tire Chains
I am convinced that Rud Centrax is the way to go if you’re looking for tire chains. The drawback of typical tire chains is that it is a difficult, time consuming, grimy, dirty job to take them on and off. Some research indicated to me that Rud Centrax makes the process of using tire chains a far less tedious project. Your tires do require some preparation so the chains can be properly mounted for the first time. The process after that looks relatively pain free as demonstrated by the video:
I was convinced that Rud Centrax tire chains would get my car up that icy street. However, a set of these chains would set me back $350: over half the price of an excellent pair of studded Blizzak or Glisaved Snow Tires. There had to be a simple, less expensive way to get my car up the hill. I found it.
Option 4: Autosocks
The winner is Autosocks. Autosocks are a patented sleeve that fits over car tires like a glove. The Colorado Department of Transportation has recently approved them as a replacement for tire chains. When I first learned about these tire socks, I was skeptical to say the least. However, one of my local tire dealers strongly recommend them, and if CDOT approved them, I thought it would be worth a try. Installing the clever tire socks is a breeze. As you can see from photo to the right, a pair of gloves is included to keep you from getting your hands and arms dirty. To install them, takes three steps:
- Simply, slip the top half of the sleeves over the top part of both tires.
- Back up the car just enough so the installed part of the sleeve is now resting underneath the bottom of the tire
- Repeat step 1
It took me about 10 minutes to install them on my first try.
Do they Really work?
They sure did for me. After installing them, I took the 540i Bimmer up my benchmark street without hassle or incident. I am still amazed as to why Autosocks actually works. The advertisement for them claims that they are made from a specially formulated textile. Apparently, the fibers of this textile become hairier when they are used, allowing them to grip the wet, ice and snow. The important thing for me, is that they did exactly what they were supposed to. The other thing I like about them is the portable size. The bag and gloves they came with, can be re-used and easily stored in my trunk for future use. Important: Autosocks are designed only to keep the car moving on icy roads. They have a 30 MPH limit and therefore are not to be used for normal driving conditions. They are a short term solution. Because they are so easy to install and uninstall, this is not much of a problem for me. These slip-on socks have solved my problem and given me the insurance that my un-sanded, steep and icy street will never leave me stranded again. I can also imagine how handy they would be for anyone who does lots of winter or mountain driving for skiing and other recreational purposes. Even with a 4-wheel drive, I wouldn’t be without a pair of these in the trunk of my SUV, Truck or Car. For a price of $100 vs. $350 for Rud Centrax Chains, Autosocks is the clear winner.