Skip to main content

Tips to Give Tires More Traction in the Snow

Linda Sarhan has been a freelance writer and researcher for 20+ years and has a B.A. in English and creative writing.


How to Improve Traction on Snow

In many areas, wintertime brings snow and ice. Traction is a major concern for most motorists. Driving on roads covered in snow and ice is dangerous unto itself, but knowing how to give your vehicle's tires more traction will help you get from one point to another with less stress. There are a few options that drivers should know before getting out on roads covered in snow and ice.

Tip 1: Get Snow or Winter Tires

The first thing to consider when trying to achieve more traction on snowy, icy roads is the tire treads. It is recommended that during snowy conditions, your tire tread should measure 6/32-inch deep. Also, be sure to check the tires' pressure. Having the proper tire pressure will help make sure the tire will function properly in any weather.

Although some all-weather tires can make it through snowy roads, it is a hit-and-miss process that they will actually provide the vehicle with enough traction. It is suggested that for areas that are most likely to receive snow, a consumer should invest in snow tires, also known as winter tires. When choosing winter tires, you should always look for a symbol that has a snowflake on the mountain. This tells a consumer that the tire meets the tire-industry safety standards.

Tip 2: Look for Tires With Siping

Siping is another feature to look for in tires that will provide better traction. Siping is the process of cutting thin slits in the rubber surface. It was first patented by John Sipe in 1923. The U.S. National Safety Council and Goodyear have run studies that show that tires with siping greatly improve a tire's traction and ability to stop on snow and ice. Winter tires have thousands of sipes which is one reason why they are recommended in areas that receive snow most of the winter. Most of the time, siping is done during the manufacturing of the tire, but a consumer can have it done after purchase through a process called microsiping.

Tip 3: Use Tyre Grip

It is always a good idea to keep a can of Tyre Grip in your vehicle. It can be sprayed on the tire tread of each tire to give the driver more traction. This is a temporary fix and thus why it is good to keep a can of Tyre Grip on hand for emergency purposes. If a motorist is in a spot where he or she is stuck and can't move, spray a bit of this on each tire to at least get the car in motion again. Tyre Grip generally costs between $19.95 and $24.95.

Tip 4: Consider Snow Chains

Snow chains are generally purchased in pairs and are recommended for placing on drive wheels to provide traction on snow and ice-covered roads. There are a variety of types of snow chains for various types of tires. Understand that by using snow chains you will not be able to reach speeds over 30 miles per hour. Also, snow chains reduce fuel efficiency of the vehicle but they do provide better traction against the winter elements. Before rushing off to buy a set of snow chains, check with your local laws regarding the use of snow chains. Not all areas allow them.

Tip 5: Consider AutoSock as Alternative to Snow Chains

Developed in Norway, the AutoSock is an alternative to snow chains. Not all areas allow snow chains, so the AutoSock is another way to add some traction to your tires. It is not recommended for going over 30 miles an hour, though. According to Consumer Reports, the AutoSock shouldn't be on if you anticipate extreme braking or if you are stuck in the snow with wheels spinning.

Tip 6: Add Studding, If Allowed in Your Area

Some people choose to add metal studs to their winter tires in order to achieve better traction. This is a more permanent solution to give more traction, but many people have had satisfactory results. Metal studs, when installed properly, will chip away at the snow and ice, giving the traction needed to keep you going.

However, these studs have been known to damage the roads where there is no snow or ice costing taxpayers millions of dollars in repairs. Some areas have outlawed studding the tires; therefore, it is best to check with local law enforcement agencies first before ordering and installing them. For more in-depth information on metal studs for tires, Tire Rack has a detailed explanation and installation tips on their website.

Tip 7: Add Weight to Your Car

Many people choose to add weight to a vehicle to provide more traction. This may help for vehicles with rear-wheel drive but not for those with front-wheel drive. If a driver has rear-wheel drive, adding sandbags or fire logs to the trunk may help with level roads or slight hills but for going up a steep or semi-steep inclined road it still isn't as effective. It is also advised that you should never add weight to the front of your car. This is deemed a safety hazard by several safety councils and organizations.


Tip 8: Maintain Momentum on the Road

Momentum on roads that provide little friction from snow and ice will make the difference between being able to keep going and getting stuck. Keeping the vehicle moving is the best option, even if it's only going a few miles an hour. Don't go too fast because it will provide you less control and reduce your chances of braking in time.

Again, the key to having momentum work for a motorist is to keep going. However, be sure to obey all traffic laws and stop when required to. Just because momentum helps provide some traction, doesn't mean you should run stop signs or stop lights.

Final Thoughts

As previously stated, driving on snow and ice is dangerous even if a driver prepares their tires for better traction. A good rule of thumb is if you don't have to get out in it, then don't. Staying home is the best option but for those that have no other choice, preparing your tires to provide more traction will get you a better safety advantage than tires that aren't prepared for driving in snow and ice.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Linda Sarhan