The Cops Don't Like Your Zip-Tie Tire Chains

(Photo Credit: CHP Truckee)
(Photo Credit: CHP Truckee)

Last week the California Highway Patrol office up in snowy Truckee shared a photo of something I’d never seen before– snow traction devices that work like zip-ties. The cops used it to illustrate “what not to do” but the concept is actually pretty brilliant.


Can officially say we have never seen this before.

Seriously don’t be this guy! Zip ties!

These will not suffice as traction control devices.

See, these aren’t the kind of zip-ties you’d use to squeeze a bundle of cables together or re-attach a torn-off bumper or use as a tourniquet when you need to mainline some truck stop diner coffee. (Heck, is there anything zip-ties can’t do?)


The orange pieces of plastic in this photo are actually being used as intended. Sort of. They are traction-augmenting devices, but they seem to be only designed for getting a car out of a bog rather than running for extended periods at highway speeds.

Apparently the result of a successful 2015 KickStarter campaign, the ZipGripGo or similar VSTM operate on the same concept as traditional tire chains– wrapping around the wheel to get traction in deeps snow with what effectively are effectively paddles.

Traction devices are an area of particular interest in California. When Los Angeles drivers venture to the mountains for ski season there’s an inevitable and dangerous confluence of ignorance and inexperience that gets people into trouble.


Bald summer tires that might be “viable” year-round in LA turn against you pretty fast when traction conditions drop below optimal but of course nobody ever thinks of such things. California’s tire-chain laws are an attempt to rectify that.

Basically, you have to carry tire chains if you’re driving through certain areas during snow season and the CHP maintains check points to make sure you do. When the snow starts to fall, police will put up signs indicating which cars need chains.


It’s too bad these aren’t legitimate full-time tire-chain replacements, because they appear to be about one-tenth the price and they look a lot easier to work with. But I guess plastic doesn’t have the survivability of iron.

I still really dig the idea of these things, and I’m glad the CHP turned me on to them even if they might not have meant to. Don’t worry, I’ll run snow tires and proper chains for long-hauls but I want a set of these little guys for when I accidentally end up parked in a snowbank.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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500 Days of Kitten Calamari

Maybe the product needs an upgrade on materials or something, but wouldn’t this be an ideal solution to the tire chains thing if it was durable enough, and if they snipped off the foot-long ends so they’re not having fucking accidental chariot battles on the middle of the freeyway?