Renault ZOE in Snow Socks

ZOE with AutoSock snow sock (Image: T. Larkum)
ZOE with AutoSock snow sock (Image: T. Larkum)

Like many British people, the first snow in winter tends to take me by surprise. This year I decided things would be different, and I would prepare in advance. This is partly because it will be my first winter with the ZOE and I’m not sure how well it will behave in snow.

My concerns are twofold. Firstly it is fitted with special EV tyres; these have ‘low rolling resistance’, which as I see it is another way of saying they don’t grip very well. Secondly, EVs do not have the low gearing available to a manual combustion car; driving in snow is a case where the EV feature of high torque available at low speeds is not an advantage.

We live in a short side road that is on a steep hill and so it is very difficult to get out of our road when there’s snow on the ground. However, once out of our road I usually find the roads cleared well enough for me to get to work, except perhaps for the last few hundred yards to the office.

I considered buying snow tyres but I didn’t want to have to store them the rest of the year, and I know that they would reduce range while fitted. I therefore compromised and recently bought a set of snow socks. For those not familiar with the idea, they are a relatively new Scandinavian invention consisting of Kevlar, fabric and mesh covers that fit over standard car tyres to give additional grip.

I tried mine out today, going through the complete process of fitting one to see what was involved. Essentially you pull it over and around the tyre except for the part that is in contact with the ground, then you move the car forward to complete the fitting. They naturally don’t fit entirely symmetrically, but apparently this is corrected automatically once you start driving. I didn’t test this, though, as there are clear instructions that they shouldn’t be driven far on tarmac. I have read that they can wear out completely in 10-20 miles on tarmac, but can last indefinitely if only used on snow.

The snow sock should centralise when driven (Image: T. Larkum)
The snow sock should centralise when driven (Image: T. Larkum)

The socks were a very tight fit – which I guess is a good thing in terms of grip. However, it did mean that they were harder to fit than I expected. In particular there is not a lot of room between the wheel arches and the wheels (the 16” alloys in my case) so it would be more difficult if you had large hands. Also, I suspect it may rule out using gloves which is not a nice thought in snowy conditions.

Based on my experience today I plan to allow up to half an hour to fit both socks, drive carefully out of the road, remove them again and pack them away. In fact, I have added a large bin bag to the equipment in my boot so I can bundle them into it when covered in messy snow.

Anyway, given that I was able to fit one today without incident, I feel pretty confident that I will be able to get them on and off in snowy conditions when I need to, and that they will make a great difference in driving ability. In particular, I’m sure they will enable me to get out of my steep road which is the main requirement – at that point I will remove them before continuing to work. I will also then have the option of fitting them at the other end if I need to.

Having researched various snow socks and suppliers on the Internet I decided to choose AutoSocks. They are, as I understand it, the original patent holders and certainly they have accreditation from various safety and motoring organisations to back it up. There are certainly cheaper suppliers but I suspect they take short cuts, for example skimping on the Kevlar.

AutoSocks can be found on Amazon, and the links are below. Of course other suppliers are available (those are affiliate links) – just Google ‘AutoSocks’ for other sources.

Anyway, I’ll post my experiences of how I get on if/when I get to use these snow socks. If you have used snow socks, snow chains or winter tyres on a ZOE then please add your experiences in the comments.

Of course, I’ll be hugely disappointed if there’s not lots of snow this winter!

Update:

Here’s a useful link for more information: AutoSock FAQ

and a Which video review:

Home Forums Renault ZOE in Snow Socks

This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  simoninrutland 1 year, 9 months ago.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
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  • #6229

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    Like many British people, the first snow in winter tends to take me by surprise. This year I decided things would be different, and I would prepare in
    [See the full post at: Renault ZOE in Snow Socks]

    #6236

    umberto
    Participant

    To be honest: though it’s an interesting idea (for scandinavia with months of snow on the road) I don’t consider this a good one.

    Three points:

    1st: in the german forum a lot of guys already run on winter tyres. If you buy a tyre with rolling resistance “C” (Conti, Dunlop or Nokian) you won’t see a large range drop – the inability of the battery to recuperate large amounts of energy when cold kills your mileage much more than the rolling resistance of winter tyres.

    2nd: summer tyres lose when it comes to breaking distance on temperatures below 7°C – a damaged car because of a not suitable breaking performance is much more expensive than a set of decent winter tyres (with rims you can go around 480-500 Euros in Germany, don’t know the UK prices)

    3rd: what do you do when the ground changes rapidly (snow, cleared road, snow again)? Socks on, socks off, socks on? I’d be to lazy for that. 🙂

    Regards
    Umbi

    #6244

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    Umberto – if you go for snow tyres, do let us know how you get on! I think the UK is actually a better case for snow socks than Scandinavia – we can have just a few snowfalls in a winter, and sometimes they don’t last for more than a few days. Snow tyres could be unnecessary, and snow socks are sufficient to use on a few occasions. Of course, last year was a very long winter here, so it isn’t always true.

    #6246

    Nosig
    Participant

    About gears, they are meant as torque multiplier. So a lower gear will turn slower but in place will enable more torque. A higher gear will lower the torque but raise the speed. An electric engine needs no gears because torque is abundant and not related to a small rpm range. It’s like having a first gear that doesn’t stop pulling when you increase RPM. And it doesn’t stall, doesn’t need a minimum RPM. Perfect for slippery circumstances as long as throttle response is not too sensitive.

    About winter tires, this has not only to do with snow (chains, socks or spikes are good for that), but more with the fact that summer rubber becomes too hard (not grippy) on cold asphalt (under 7 degrees). The socks could be handy for the occasional snowy, slopy driveway. But even then the difference between winter and summer tires is huge. This video shows it all: http://youtu.be/elP_34ltdWI

    There are a couple of Zoe drivers in Holland that have gotten a pair of aftermarket wheels with winter tires already. We have test results from the Dutch consumer organisation that show the difference in endurance, noise, grip and fuel consumption. Depending on preference their choice is now Dunlop Winter Response-2 (best fuel consumption), Continental WinterCtc TS850 (better endurance, less noise, bit worse fuel consumption) and Goodyear Ultragrip 8 ( http://www.renaultforum.nl/forum/winterbanden-zoe-t15931-50.html ). I was undecided, but the video (I just found) was pretty convincing stuff (even though I have no hills here).

    #6268

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    Thanks, Nosig, good points as always. From what you say, an EV may turn out to handle well on snow (though I feel the ZOE’s throttle response is pretty sensitive, and it’s braking definitely so).

    The video on snow tyres on snow and just in cold conditions is pretty convincing. My personal conclusion is still the same though – snow tyres are an ideal solution, but snow socks are more convenient (and cheaper) for occasional use.

    Meanwhile I’ve updated the post with a link to an AutoSock FAQ, and a Which video review.

    #6289

    Steamrunner
    Participant

    I agree with Umberto – snow socks are just not suitable for use in the UK. They’re only useful once the snow is already on the ground, at which point you’re going to have to crawl around on your knees in the freezing cold. Plus, the rest of the time, you’re going to be using summer tyres anyway which already puts you at a disadvantage.

    I’ve just fitted a new set of alloys with winter tyres; yes, there’s an initial cost, but the benefits – to my mind – are worth it. I’ve got all season tyres on my C4 Grand Picasso due to the German laws about needing winter tyres in winter conditions (we drive there two or three times a year) and they’ve been a revelation*. I fitted a set of full winters to my Fiesta which were likewise useful, and having trading in for the Zoe it was a no-brainer. They’ve been on for two weeks now and although they probably need a bit more mileage to break in, they’re already a noticeable improvement on roundabouts in the near-freezing mornings we’ve had so far. And since the cost wasn’t much different, I fitted them to a set of “banging rims” as I believe the yoof call them. This makes them much easier to handle – come spring, you just swap the wheels over, job done.

    *Although I could swap them out for the summer tyres again this year, I’ve decided to keep them on the Picasso year-round – it does less mileage now we have the Zoe and they don’t have the drawbacks of using winters in the summer.

    I fitted Kumho KW23 tyres to the Zoe – they’re C rated for efficiency and roughly £66 each (inc VAT). A set of four alloys sets you back anything from £250ish upwards, so you can have a full set of wheels and tyres for around £500. I went for a slightly more expensive set of wheels ‘cos I liked them, in total I think I spent about £660.

    Brap an' ting

    Oh, they’re on 15″ rims – seems to be quite strong opinion that if you fit winters it’s a good idea to drop down a wheel size as well. I can’t vouch for that, but it saved a few quid…!

    As for storing – if you go the wheels & tyres route, then you can get a “tyre tree” which basically lets you stack the wheels with the weight on the rims, not the rubber. As long as you’ve got a garden you’ll be fine, it’ll take up the same space as a water butt. You can also go for the tyres-only route, some fitters/garages will let you store your other set of tyres while they’re not in use but then you’ve a) got to pay for them to be refitted each time and b) got the risk of them getting lost (as has happened to one person I know). For me, the convenience of being able to swap out whenever I want is worth the extra – this spring I nearly swapped over in late March, only for temps to drop again for another month or so.

    Oh, in case anyone’s interested, I used RTec – very helpful guys there, although it was the first time they’d worked on an EV!

    #6304

    farblue
    Participant

    Other than switching to ‘Eco’ to desensitise the throttle I think the Zoe should deal with the snow very well. I am seriously considering winter tyres and I think I’d go for a 15″ set of wheels and tyres. For a start I’ve found that there really aren’t that many options for 16″ tyres of the spec needed by the Zoe. The load rating in particular seems to be a issue. There are more choices with 15″ wheels. Furthermore the chance of sliding and scraping the wheels is higher in winter so a cheap set of wheels means less worry about damaging them 🙂

    Remember the Zoe does have ABS with EBD and ESC with ASR (that’s antilock braking with electronic brake distribution and electronic stability control with traction control in normal-person speak!).

    #26714

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    *Bump* (as there’s snow forecast)

    #26735

    simoninrutland
    Participant

    Critically Winter tyres and Snow tyres are two very different things indeed.

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