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Winter tyres and snow socks

Here in the UK I drive a 4X4 fitted with M+S rated tyres.

How do these compare with "winter" tyres as, for example, required by law to be fitted on all cars in Germany for the winter months beginning on Dec 1st? I was most impressed last week, driving on widespread ice and in deep snow in Bavaria and eastern Germany, with the road-holding capabilities of my small rented Renault Twingo which had winter tyres fitted.

On a related subject, how legal are the various snow socks now being sold, in respect of legal minimum tread depths of tyres, seeing as the socks completely cover the tread?

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If they have mountain or snowflake symbols on them they are legal as winter tyres in Germany and Austria. They are just less effective than full winter compound tyres, but have the advantage they can stay on all year round.

Snow socks can only be used in soft snow, so tyre tread depth is irrelevant because the treads are completely covered and the snow socks provide traction by picking up snow that provides traction against snow.
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