Sliding down an icy mountain is nobody’s idea of fun.
Even in regions not known for black ice, winter can create hazards in the form of freezing rain, snow, and sleet. And chains can be a good solution for helping you to get from point A to point B safely.
Different state laws regulate the use of chains.
But before you buy a new pair for your luxury car or SUV, make sure you know whether chains are legal, permitted, or even required in some areas under certain conditions. For instance, in the mountains of the west, it’s not unusual to see “Chains Required” signs as you cruise up to your favorite ski resort.
That chain requirement means you must put them on your tires if you want to get past a certain checkpoint.
In areas where chains are permitted there’s usually a disclaimer that restricts their usage when not needed (to save the roads) – so make sure you understand the law. Otherwise, it can cost you in terms of being ticketed.
One more issue to consider: Is your car even suitable for chains?
You can, of course, find chains for most tire sizes. But at the same time, there must be enough clearance for them to fit on your tires without causing damage to the body of your vehicle.
That damage can include damage to your car’s undercarriage or its brakes.
Be sure to look at your car’s owner’s manual for details.
Here are some other issues you will want to consider when thinking about whether you want to buy chains for your car.
Chains are something you will likely need to take on and off at least once during your road trip. So it’s best to practice installing them once before you are suddenly hit with air, sleet, snow, or ice. While parked in a nice warm garage, put them in your car and take them off a few times so you have the hang of it before you leave on your trip. Otherwise, you might be stuck struggling while at the same time dealing with cold hands. There could also be snow and poor visibility – making this a dangerous task.
- Understand when to use them
Tire chains for cars should only be used if there is a layer of snow or ice on the road. Using chains on bare pavement can cause substantial damage to both your tires and the road itself. If you turn onto a road that’s clearly been plowed and salted, pull over and remove the chains.
3 . Understand how to use them
When on, the car should not be driven above 30 miles per hour and you have to be mindful of curbs when parking. On two-wheel-drive vehicles, chains must be attached to wheels on the drive axle, but ideally, you get them on all four. If installed only in the front there will be a tendency to oversteer and a tendency to understeer if they’re only in the back. Four-wheel drive vehicles should have chains installed on all tires.
Though they can be cumbersome, snow chains make a huge difference when it comes to driving safely in bad weather.
They are an ideal thing to keep in your car in case driving conditions take a turn for the worse.
Don’t be caught in ice or deep snow without them!
Some are better at tackling certain terrains than others so always consult with your dealership and consider OEM chains made specifically for your vehicle.
An example: Diagonal chains are best for cars and trucks – those with traction control – while chains in a diamond pattern give more consistent traction for a smoother ride in other vehicles.Also, square chains are more durable and provide even better traction than diamond chains for many vehicles.
Then there are the simpler cable chains, which are easy to install and ideal for vehicles with limited tire clearance. However, they are not as durable or effective as the other types.
Please note: chains are sold by tire size. Always check the size of your tire before purchasing to make sure they are the right size.