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Tire chains can improve your vehicle’s traction in ice and snow. But what size of tire chains do you need for your tires? Well, the answers are right here.

Are tire chains universal? Can you use any tire chain that you come across? What size of tire chains should you purchase for your vehicle?

Tire chains are designed to fit different tire sizes. Therefore, the size you should buy will depend on your vehicle’s tire size. The tire size is usually indicated on the tire’s sidewall, looking something like 175/65R/14. You will then buy tire chains that correspond to this number.

If you are in the market for tire chains, you may be wondering which size to choose for your tires. Well, this guide has all the information that you need. In this article, we will share tips for choosing the right size of tire chains for your tires.

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When winter comes around, most drivers will swap their all-season or summer tires with their set of winter tires. But, as much as winter tires may provide you with some much-needed traction, it may not be enough, especially if you live in areas that experience dense, heavy snowing during the winter months.

And this is where tire chains come in. Tire chains will bite deep into heavy snow, ice, and slush, thus providing your vehicle with that extra traction it needs to pull through while ensuring you arrive safely at your destination.

However, if you’ve never purchased a set of tire chains before, you may be wondering about which size to choose for your tires. Well, this article will walk you through everything that you need to know about tire chains as well as how to choose the right size for your vehicle.

About Tire Chains

So, what exactly are tire chains? Well, tire chains are more of a chain system, which has been designed to cover your vehicle’s wheel or tire setup. When properly installed, this chain system will help to enhance your vehicle’s grip and traction in snowy conditions.

Also, tire chains can help your vehicle to navigate through frozen surfaces such as ice-covered roads.  So, if you live in a mountainous region or any area that experiences heavy snowing or ice-covered roads during the winter months, then tire chains will come in handy.

Also, some states may require drivers to install them in case inclement weather makes it unsafe or dangerous to drive using the ordinary tire and wheel setup. Some of the states where drivers may be required to install tire chains on their vehicles include Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, and California. Usually, road signs will be put up requiring drivers of certain vehicles to carry tire chains and when to use them.

When shopping for tire chains for your vehicle, you will come across numerous designs out there. For instance, you may come across a particular design, which usually covers the tread pattern of the tire. This one is usually mounted to the wheel. Another design wraps around the tires. This design is usually fastened using tensioners.

How Tire Chains Work

Tire chains usually wrap around tires’ tread. However, they latch on the tires tightly, thus preventing any slippage. When installed on the wheel set-up, they will grip the road, thus enabling the tires to deliver better traction in snowy conditions and frozen surfaces. In short, they will give your vehicle enhanced traction and better handling in inclement weather.

Apart from enhancing a vehicle’s grip and traction on snowy and frozen surfaces, tire chains can also help to minimize wheel spin. Wheel spin usually occurs when the force supplied to the tire’s tread through the engine is bigger than the available tread-to-surface friction. As a result, the tire will lose friction, resulting in wheel spin.

However, while tire chains will significantly boost your vehicle’s grip and traction when driving in snowy and icy conditions, they usually come with various restrictions, depending on the state. For instance, in some areas, drivers are not allowed to exceed certain speed limits when using tire chains.

How to Choose the Right Size of Tire Chains

Just like tires, tire chains come in different sizes. These different sizes are designed to fit the different sizes of tires out there. So, when it comes to buying tire chains, you need to make sure you choose the right size. And to ensure you choose the right size, you will first need to determine your tire sizes. Here are the steps to follow.

First, you will need to take a closer look at the side of your tires. Here, you will see a collection of some letters and numbers.

Second, you should identify and note down the first three numbers on the tire that have been grouped. These numbers usually follow a particular letter. If you are driving a passenger vehicle, then the three letters will follow the letter P, which denotes a passenger vehicle tire. The three numbers indicate the tire’s width in millimeters.

Third, note down the two numbers before the R and after the dash. These two numbers will indicate the tire’s width to height ratio.

Fourth, locate and note down the two numbers after the R. In most tires, these two numbers will represent the wheel diameter, which is usually indicated in inches.

Fifth, write down all these numbers together, separated by slashes or dashes. The numbers you’ve written down should resemble something like this 175/65R/14, depending on your tire sizes.

You will then visit a local auto supply store, hardware store or any other place where they may be selling tires and present this piece of paper. The store attendant will then retrieve the right tire chains according to your tire sizes.

Installing Tire Chains

After purchasing a set of tire chains based on your tire sizes, you can now proceed to install them. And, you don’t need complex tools or skills to install them. You only need the chains. Usually, tire chains come with mounting instructions on how to do it. So, you should encounter any issues with this process.

However, before you proceed to install the chains, you should first check your vehicle’s wheel drive. If your vehicle is a front-wheel drive, then you should install the tire chains on the front wheels. On the other hand, if your vehicle is rear-wheel drive, then you will install the tire chains on the rear wheels.

And if you happen to have an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle, you can install the chains on either the front, rear or all wheels.

After you’ve finished installing the tire chains, you should check they have been properly installed before you start driving. All the chains should run straight and tight around the tire sides. They shouldn’t be loose or misaligned. If you notice such an issue, you should first fix it before you start driving.

From there, you should then drive for around 100 feet at the side of the road. You should then check again whether there’s anything loose or they are misaligned. And if everything looks good, then you are ready to hit the road.

Wrapping It Up

A reliable set of tire chains will come in handy during the months. They will help to boost your vehicle’s grip and traction on snow-covered roads and frozen surfaces. You just need to ensure you purchase the right size, depending on your tire size.

What Size Of Tire Chains Do You Need?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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