The AutoSock, an alternative traction device from Norway, is now approved for use in 45 states, and its manufacturer is seeking approval for use nationwide.
Compatible with ABS and traction control systems, the AutoSock ATD combines high-performance fibers and a unique surface pattern in a fitted fabric tire cover that maximizes contact area on snowy and icy roads.
Easily folded up for storage, AutoSock has provided better traction than tire chains when tested on trucks. According to of AutoSock Operations AS in Oslo, it can be installed in less than five minutes per wheel, weighs about ten pounds, and does no damage to road surfaces. It eliminates the noise and vibrations associated with tire chains.
“Compared to traditional chains, it is much safer and easier for drivers to put on a vehicle, weighs less and provides comparable performance,” says CEO Bernt J. Rosli. “Over two million pairs of AutoSock are now in use worldwide” through 2012.
Autosock may also be a suitable alternative for passenger cars that are not supposed to use tire chains. One YouTube channel reviewer had difficulty installing the AutoSock on a BMW that had little clearance in the wheel well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWY9fX8PFpI
The British consumer review website Which? (http://www.which.co.uk/) offers articles and videos about AutoSock, as well as other brands of “snow socks” currently in use on cars in Europe. Which? cautions that fabric ATDs are for use at low speeds, and must be removed once the tires are on clear pavement, or they will be damaged. The Which? reviewer in this video had some difficulty with the application and removal of the AutoSock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2x8iHyLWWKw
While ATDs improve the traction of regular car tires, Which? also notes that the ATDs do not make them perform as well as snow tires, but are considerably less expensive than a set of snow tires.
In commercial use, Autosock is designed for vehicles or combinations over 10,000 lbs GVWR with five or fewer axles, including Class 3-8 medium- and heavy-duty trucks with tire sizes from 17 in. to wide base singles. No ATD has yet been certified by a manufacture for use with six or more axles.