Testing at CDOT has shown that fitting standard snow chains to the tires of the drive axles of a dual axle tractor can take as long as 45 minutes, depending on the weather conditions and the physical condition of the driver. In the freight hauling business, time is money.
To save time, the real world alternative some drivers will turn to, particularly if the conditions don’t absolutely dictate chaining up, is to skip chaining up at all and then pray for the best. As it is said, “Hope isn’t a plan.” If you are running in snow and ice on the Front Range without traction devices deployed, you are at risk for calling Alpine Towing and Recovery to get your rig out of a ditch or a nasty jack knife situation.
The difficulty of emplacing chains on a big rig, and the resulting temptation to skip this nasty chore, led CDOT to approving a traction product from Norway called the AutoSock. Note that this post isn’t an endorsement of the AutoSock product. It is a heads up for readers who may not haveheard of it, or haven’t heard that the device is made in popular tractor tire sizes.
The AutoSock’s high tech synthetic fabric manages to generate adhesion to the water layer that overlays all ice and snow in the road. Through electrostatic cling and tens of thousands of very small ridges and channels, the AutoSock also effectively increases the surface contact area between your tire and the slick stuff. The product plays nicely with all of the ESP, ABS, and traction control systems fitted to modern trucks. Do note that just like the competing chain products, the AutoSock should not be used over distance while on a dry highway nor should you exceed about 30 mph while using them.
True to its name, the AutoSock slips over your drive tires, much like putting socks on your truck would go. During the CDOT evaluation it took about five minutes to fit four AutoSock devices to the test rig. Frankly, the less time you are out of your rig in bad weather, the safer you will be.
AutoSocks are about double the price of decent chains, but their light weight and speed of use may make them worth it.