Not snakes on a plane. Socks…on a car.

Each year, when the first snowfall hits, we seem to get the same questions. One that always comes up is what does it mean when the sign says “Chains Required.”

Basically, it means most cars have to chain up – and yes, even those with studded tires. Studded tires don’t take the place of chains.

Most of the time, those with four-wheel or all-wheel drive don’t have to chain up. You may be surprised to know that even four- and all-wheel drivers do need to have chains available in the vehicle. Yes, that is the law (check under WAC 204…section 1a).

Other “FAQs” don’t usually change much. But there’s a new answer to this:

• My vehicle cannot accommodate tire chains. Can I drive when chains are required?

Now, the answer is YES – if you have socks.

Huh? What, socks, on a car? (or truck or van or other passenger vehicle – no for semi-trucks)

This year, the company that makes AutoSock was certified “as meeting or exceeding chain requirements for use when Chains Required signs are posted.”

Please remember, only AutoSock. It’s brand name. There may be some other tire sock-type products out there, but they aren’t legal for use (yet) in Washington. That’s from the Washington State Patrol.

The Yakima Herald has a story today that gives more of the background: Tired of messing with tire chains? Put a sock on it.

Want to know the law in full? You can read the complete Washington Administrative Code or WAC (204-24-035) on traction devices.

Any other questions, you can always call or email either us or the Washington State Patrol.

Washington State Patrol Equipment and Standards Section: (360) 596-4017 or

WSDOT Headquarters Customer Service: (360) 705-7438 or

These aren’t staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but we’ll try and answer as soon as we can.

Safe driving!