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Tire chains are quite simple to install, even while out on the open road by yourself, if you follow proper protocols and some basic safety advice.

Tire chains are a low-cost, temporary solution that helps you maneuver your car in deep snow. There are different types of tire chains – link and diamond being the two most common. You also need to ensure that you’re driving carefully with these chains, as rough driving can cause them to snap.

Tire chains have been used on mechanized equipment for years, and they give drivers added peace of mind on rough winter roads, offering safety and confidence. When the snow starts to pile up, especially in hilly places, the best answer, aside from staying at home and sitting by the fire, is to put on a set of tire chains.

To give you the best information possible, our experts have laid out a complete guide to tire chains that will help you install your tire chains the right way and prevent costly damage to your vehicle. So, without further ado, let's get into it.

Table of Contents

Tire Chains

Winter is approaching, and while most drivers are aware of the importance of fitting their vehicles with winter tires to prepare for the weather, some regional highways and mountainous terrain are particularly perilous and unpredictable, requiring more assistance than merely a set of winter tires.

While not intended as a substitute, tire chains have long been a tried-and-true extension of winter tires, offering significant traction and grip on ice and snow. Tire chains have traditionally been used on mechanized equipment for decades and have provided drivers with a sense of safety and trust.

Tire chains are well-known for their versatility and low cost, as well as their efficiency on ice and snow. They have excellent traction in thick snow and in situations where ice could cause a slick disaster. Tire chains are popular because of their efficiency on ice and snow.

Snow chains must be installed on the front tires of front-wheel-drive vehicles and the rear axle of rear-wheel-drive vehicles. In four-wheel-drive vehicles, the owner's manual will tell you which axle to place tire chains on, but you should ideally put chains on all four tires.

For all types of vehicles, tire chains should be installed on all four tires. You'll be able to get the best traction and balance by using four tire chains. You might face potential issues if you only chain one axle. If only the front tires are chained, the car's back can react unpredictably when driving and braking, and the vehicle's turning ability is compromised.

Tire chains are one of the greatest solutions for your car during the snowy and slippery winter months. This is especially true if you live in a mountainous location that is extremely windy, snowy, and cold. In some areas of the country, such as steep and winding valleys, tire chains are essential.

Snow chains should not be worn every time there is snow on the ground. Know when to use snow chains and when not to use them this winter.

How to Use Tire Chains

There are many different tire chains available nowadays, from link - or cable - chains to studded chains. Alloy and hardened steel, as well as fabric links, rubber, and even polyurethane, have been employed.

Chains are normally only effective up to 30-50 km/h and should not be used on dry roads because they can cause tire slippage. Tire chains are designed to be used as an emergency piece of equipment or in exceptionally hazardous situations, not as normal traction assistance.

Types of Tire Chains


This is the conventional form, which is made up of strings of metal links that are arranged in a diamond shape. It provides better traction thanks to the increased contact surface with the ground.

Best for: Heavy snowfall on a regular basis


Smaller, lighter steel links are attached to a chain that runs around the circumference of the wheel. The spaced-out cables make it easier to apply the brakes, which can come in handy when you're driving in slippery conditions and have less control.

Best for: Use on mild snow  

You can also use snow socks, rather than snow chains, as an alternative and cover the tires with a thick cloth to improve traction while providing a considerably quieter ride than chains. Another option is to use a thin yet durable mesh that provides a good grip. Both approaches are lighter, easier to store, and more cost-effective than traditional heavy chains.

What You Should Know About Tire Chains

Maintain a Safe Speed

Tire chains are only designed to handle a certain level of rough driving. When tethered, drivers should never go faster than 30 mph. Faster speeds may cause chains to break while in motion. This could be hazardous, especially in less-than-ideal conditions.

Steer Clear of Pavements

Tire chains are also ineffective when used on bare pavement. While there may be times when driving on bare pavement is required, you should avoid making a habit of it altogether. As soon as a driver passes through a snow-covered area, he or she should pull over to a safe location and remove the chains.

Slip-on Pavement Chains

Another thing to keep in mind concerning chains is that they are prone to slipping on bare concrete. If a driver is still chained up and braking on the bare pavement, he or she must be more careful. The wheels may easily be locked, and chains slipped on. On the other hand, pressing the accelerator too hard on bare pavement may cause the drive wheels to spin. Drivers should take it slow when accelerating on such surfaces.

Regular Inspections

When truckers initially deploy their chains, they will naturally tighten them. It is, nevertheless, generally advised that chains be inspected and tightened on a regular basis. Chains will loosen as the miles pass, putting them at risk of breaking.

Chain Tightening

If not used correctly, chain tightening mechanisms tend to drag chains off-center. A driver who is unfamiliar with operating such a system should refrain from doing so. There are a variety of alternative methods for properly tightening chains.

Tire Chains - Precautions to Take

When driving with your chains on, be exceedingly cautious. Keep an eye out for patches on the road that aren't covered in compact ice or snow, and don't drive too fast. Slow down, be cautious, and keep your complete focus on the road. Also, keep in mind that with the chains on, your handling will be slightly different. Consult expert professionals to determine which snow chains are appropriate for your vehicle and to select a set for this winter season.

What You Need to Know Before Installing Tire Chains

Here are a few simple strategies to help avoid some of the dangers while installing tire chains to keep yourself and others safe:

  • Make sure your vehicle is equipped with the appropriate chains.
  • Make sure you know which wheels propel your vehicle (front, rear, or all-wheel drive). Practice putting on snow chains before you need them.
  • Find a location distant from the traffic to work with chains.
  • Make sure the emergency brake is engaged.
  • The snow chains should be placed in front of the drive wheels.
  • Make sure you're ready to drive onto them.

Snow Chains: How to Install and Remove Them

Installing snow chains can be difficult, especially if it's your first time, but you'll eventually get there with trial and error.

Installing the Chains

  • Remove the chains from the car.
  • Place the chains near the front of the driving wheels' tires on the ground.
  • Make sure the V-bar links on your chains are pointing up to make contact with the road surface; cable chains should be able to go in either way.
  • Straighten the chains that run alongside the tire.
  • Make sure that the mechanics are accessible from the outside of the wheel.
  • Install the Snow Chains
  • Roll the automobile forward onto the chains and come to a halt in the middle.
  • Connect the fasteners using a hook.
  • Tighten the chains

Taking Down the Tire Chains

  • Roll the wheel forward until the fasteners are on top of it.
  • The chain should be unfolded and placed on the ground.
  • For each chain, repeat these procedures.
  • Carry the vehicle forward.
  • Gather the chains and place them in a safe place.
Tire Chains - A Complete Guide

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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