Mounting Snow Socks for Front, Rear, and Four-Wheel Drive Vehicles: An Installation Guide

A person mounting snow socks on front wheels of a car in winter landscape

As winter weather approaches, drivers will need to equip their vehicles with traction devices for added grip and safety on snowy or icy roads. While proper installation of textile tire chains may seem straightforward, there are specific considerations and best practices to follow depending on whether the vehicle is front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive. Understanding how to fit snow socks to tires before driving on snow-covered roads ensures they function as intended with full safety. Continue reading for step-by-step guidance on selecting, preparing, and fitting chains for front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. Some vehicle manufacturers do not permit the installation of metal snow chains for certain models. In such cases, a textile traction device may be the best alternative.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Textile Tire Chains on Front, Rear Wheels and for 4WD vehicles

Front Wheel Installation

The installation of the AutoSock product on the front wheels is a straightforward process consisting of three simple steps:

Step 1: Install the AutoSock onto the top half of the tire. Pull the socks down as far as the available space in the wheel well allows. For vehicles with limited room to access the tire from inside the wheel well, it is recommended to first turn the steering wheel fully left and right. This allows the installer to pull the AutoSock down on both sides of the wheel.

Step 2: Rotate the vehicle forward or backward by half a wheel turn. The direction of rotation at this step does not impact the subsequent mounting process.

Step 3: Pull the AutoSock over the remaining uncovered portion of the tire.

Please keep in mind that AutoSock tire socks are designed to self-centre as the vehicle is driven. The product should be removed prior to driving on cleared roads.

To further assist AutoSock customers in properly mounting the snow socks, the Norwegian company has published an installation guide in English. This guide provides additional details on the mounting process for front wheel driven cars. Seeing a video demonstration of the installation may also help users successfully complete the steps.

Installation Guide for Snow Socks on Front Wheels (Video)


Rear Wheel Installation

To install textile tire chains on your rear wheels, repeat the same steps outlined above for the front wheels. Stretch the elastic opening of the AutoSock over the top half of the tire, pulling the cover down to encapsulate as much of the tire as feasible. Ensure the elastic sits just behind the tire tread. Reposition the vehicle so the mounted half of the AutoSock is beneath the wheel. Pull the remaining cover portion over the rest of the tire. The AutoSock is designed to self-adjust to center once the vehicle begins moving.

Installation Guide for Snow Socks on Rear Wheels (Video)

With proper installation of textile tire chains on front and rear wheels according to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations, you will have optimized traction for driving on snow and ice. Be sure to recheck the fit of your snow socks within the first mile of driving to ensure maximum performance and safety.

Installing Textile Tire Chains on 4-Wheel Drive Vehicles

To install textile tire chains on a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you will need two sets of snow socks for all four tires. To install tire socks on your 4WD vehicle, follow the same mounting steps for both the front and rear wheels as mentioned above.

For four-wheel drive vehicles, refer to the manufacturer's recommendation in your vehicle owner's manual concerning traction devices / snow chains. We usually recommend mounting AutoSock on all four tires for 4WD, but some manufacturers may recommend mounting traction devices on the rear or front tires only.

You have never heard about textile tire chains? Then read here about what snow socks are, why you need and how to use them.

Recommendations For Maintenance and Usage of Snow Socks

When installed and used properly on appropriate road surfaces, fabric tire socks can log hundreds of kilometres before needing a replacement. However, as textile tire chains are primarily designed for intermittent snow and ice use, their functional life is shortened when left installed on dry pavement. Thus, it is best to remove snow socks as soon as the road conditions allow in order to maximize their utility over multiple winter seasons. But there are more recommendations to consider that are mentioned below.

Recommended Driving Speeds

AutoSock's recommended driving speeds vary by vehicle type. Passenger cars should drive at or below 50 km/h, while busses and forklifts should stay at or below 30 km/h.

Road conditions on snowy roads change due to weather, time of day, and altitude. You may need to reduce your speed further depending on circumstances.

Exceeding the recommended speeds could cause wheel spin as tires lose traction. This makes it difficult for the engine's energy to transfer effectively to the road surface.

Fabric tire chains rely on friction between the fabric and snow/ice layer to create traction. Exceeding recommended speeds diminishes their effectiveness. When using fabric tire chains, refer to the posted guidance.

Tips For Usage and Care

Following basic precautions maximizes snow socks lifespan. For new or existing users, consider the following:

  • Use socks matching your tire size for optimal performance and safety. The tire dimensions are marked on the tires.
  • Only use snow socks on snowy or icy roads as use on cleared roads significantly shortens lifespan. Remove promptly after reaching cleared hazardous surfaces.
  • Do not exceed recommended speeds for maximum effectiveness and longevity. High speeds on snowy roads increase safety risks. Reduce speeds as conditions require.
  • Drive cautiously, allow extra stopping distance, and avoid wheel spin when snow socks are installed.
  • Remove textile chains when parking over 30 minutes to avoid freezing. Moisture absorbed during use can freeze if parked long-term.
  • Thoroughly clean and dry chains after each use before the storage. Some textile chains like AutoSock can be machine washed.

Snow Socks Work with Electronic Safety Systems

The AutoSock traction fabric provides consistent coverage across the entire tire surface, eliminating variations in traction levels often associated with traditional snow chains. This allows AutoSock to integrate seamlessly with all electronic vehicle systems, allowing drivers to retain the benefits of technologies such as stability control and traction control when AutoSock is installed.

Replacement Guidelines

We use AutoSock guidelines as an example, but replacement standards vary by manufacturer.

AutoSock uses a two-layer fabric design where the outer white layer wears to reveal the inner black layer. Replace the socks when the black fabric starts mixing with the white - this is an easy visual indicator that it is time to replace your snow socks with new ones.

For any more questions regarding snow socks, please refer to our extended FAQ page.


In conclusion, following the outlined sequential instructions above and taking appropriate safety measures, textile tire chains can be easily installed on front, rear, and all-wheel drive vehicles. With the proper tools, materials, and understanding of correct sizing and positioning, drivers will be prepared to safely navigate snowy and icy roads this winter season. Routine inspection and upkeep of textile tire chains is also crucial. Investing time to properly install and maintain chains will provide reassurance that vehicles will have reliable grip when you need it most this US winter.


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