Â Snow chains are metallic devices applied to the exterior surfaces of tires in order to improve their traction with the road, basically to give them stability as they navigate difficult terrains, such as snow-covered and muddy roads.
Other means are equally used for the same reason, such as winter tires. However, there is the need to know whether these devices have any implications for drivers or their vehicles.
This article will, in due course, discuss much of what we should know about snow chains and winter tires, their advantages, side effects, as well as how to use them properly.
Snow chains shouldn’t affect your vehicle tires, all things being equal. To start with, you are not supposed to run snow chains unless there is snow or ice on the road, or in cases where the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celcius.
These devices do not come cheap, and they are a perfect tool when you are stuck in the mud too. It is recommended that you use front snow chains if your vehicle is a front-wheel drive, rear chains if you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, or all the tires if your car is an all-wheel drive (AWD). On the issue of whether they can harm tires or not, it all depends on certain things.
One, if they are installed properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, they would neither damage your tires and rims nor either mark them (or cause any damage whatsoever).
Second, even when they are installed properly, you are not supposed to drive with them beyond a recommended speed, if you want to protect your tires.
You should also know that these chains can harm your tires if they come in contact with the road or any hard surface on it, though in this case, they may damage the road itself instead of your tires.
Essentially, therefore, snow chains do not constitute any threat to your tires, unless you do something wrong. They are also equipped with carm chains for the control and adjustments of how well or tight they fit your tires.(Read Also: Can You Check Fuel Pressure With A Tire Gauge?Find Out)
Do snow chains damage tires?
No, they really don’t damage your tires either, unless you install them wrongly or drive at speeds in excess of that which is adjudged safe, otherwise, you are safe to use them on any snow or mud-covered roads.
How do you instal snow chains on your tires?
Now that we know what snow tires are and when they should be used, it is only logical for us to discuss how they can be installed correctly on the tires.
For you to achieve a successful installation of snow chains, perform the following operation in the exact sequence it is described:
Park the vehicle at a safe place or shoulder. Afterwards, flip on your hazard lights and put on your waterproof layers, hat, headlamp and gloves.Â
Identify the correct tires for the installation: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. If you have any issues doing this, consult your user manual for a guide on how to identify the correct tires for the installation.
Then, pull out the chains and instructions on the installation. Each snow chain bag contains two chains and the instruction mat can be used as a barrier between you and the snow-covered road, as you kneel to work the chains onto the tires.
Proceed to untangle the chains. They should hang loose with their metal hooks along the yellow and blue sections facing away from you so that they do not damage your tires.
Place the chains on your tire and connect the cable by putting them on the ground and pushing them behind the tire, yellow cable ends first from the right side to the left.
Connect the red hook on the right to the first available gold link on the left.
Now, check the diamond shape created in the mounted chain against the tire.
Then, connect the red chain along the bottom end.
This is where you should repeat the same procedures on the next tire too, and in fact, any other tire on which you would install the chain.(Read Also: Goodyear Endurance Vs Trailer King(Which Is Better)
At this stage, you should drive forward slowly for about 15 feet or the full length of a car. Doing this will cause the chain to relax and settle on the tires.
Finally, re-tighten the chains, and you are essentially done with the installation process.
Is it okay to drive with snow chains on the road?
If the road is not snow or mud-covered, you are really not supposed to use snow chains on it. If you do that, there is a high probability that you may end up damaging the road itself, or in extreme cases,Â even your tires too. As a result, you are not supposed to run snow chains on bare roads; they are just not meant to be used that way, no matter what.
Is it okay to have snow chains on overnight?
No, you should remove them except if you have a strong reason not to. Nevertheless,Â like it was explained earlier, you are supposed to use this chain only on snow or mud-covered roads, and for that reason, if you are driving on a snow-covered road all night, nothing should stop you from using it.
On the other hand, if the vehicle isn’t being driven, but is just parked after use, the most advisable thing is to uninstall them, unless you are likely to drive out again early the next day, and the snow is expected to persist.Â Â
Do winter tires need chains?
Yes, they may, but not in all cases. In the first place, winter tires are designed to increase the traction of your tires with the road in cases of moderate snow or water covering the road.
Their treads are very prominent than those of all-season tires. However, there are situations when the depth of snow or mud cover on the road is beyond the capacity of winter tires to cope with.
In such instances,Â you are supposed to use snow chains on your winter tires to give them more traction and stability. Winter tires are built for more grip on the road in all sorts of conditions, such as moderate snow or ice, mud, slush, and so on.(Read Also: Will A TH 350 Torque Converter Fit A 700 R4?Find Out)
They are designed therefore with bigger threads, grooves, biting edges, sipes, or optional studs. So, yes, you can use snow chains on winter tires, if the occasion demands doing that.
Additionally, winter tires are for driving on slippery roads, braking and taking corners, but snow chains are only mounted when necessary and are therefore useless while stored in the trunks of the vehicle.
How fast can you drive with snow socks?
In a nutshell, you are not supposed to drive with snow chains on your tires for more than an average speed of about 30 miles per hour.
Should you risk doing that, you are likely to get them coming loose suddenly with possible damage to your tires or the vehicle itself. So, drive within recommended speed limits when running on snow chains.
Frequently asked questions(FAQ)
Should tire chains be tight or loose?
In order to safeguard your tires from damage when using snow chains, it is highly recommended that you instal them loosely. When you installed them like this, the metal hooks of the chains along the yellow and blue sections will face away from you, an arrangement that will benefit your tires.
How do I know what size my tire chains are?
This is simple really. Which snow size snow chain you use will also depend on the size of your tires too. In order to know the correct size with any certainty, first, inspect your tires or better still, consult your user manual or any experts around you.
This should cut it. For what it is worth, the number markings on the sidewalls of your tires are not just random statistics.
No, they are not, because they give you very vital information about your tires. For example, let us assume that on your tire sidewall is inscribed the number 265/35/19. What does this mean?Â Well, one, the number 265 is the tire dimensions, which means that your tire is 265 mm wide, while the number 35 states how tall the tire sidewall is, which is 35 mm.
The number 19 indicates the wheel diameter, which is 19 inches. Therefore, knowing these vital and intimate statistics will enable you to choose the correct snow chains for it.
Do I need snow chains on all four tires?
For the record, you are recommended to install snow chains on only those tires that require the most traction with the road.
For this reason, you should use snow chains in the front wheels, if your car is a front-wheel-drive vehicle, and on the rear wheels, if you have rear-wheel drive.
Conversely, if your vehicle is a four-wheeler or what is otherwise known as an all-wheel-drive( AWD), you are then recommended to use snow chains on all the tires.
This means that, unless your vehicle is an AWD, you really shouldn’t have snow chains on all four wheels.Â AWDs are known to efficiently move cars from dead spots, in a straight line, and on slippery roads.
Therefore, they are not expected to be effective if there is no traction with the road. In addition, AWDs with all-season tires are not very good on either ice or slippery roads during cornering or even stopping.
In fact, an FWD( front-wheel drive) with winter tires is considered a lot better in comparison. Simple, right? Well, that’s it really.Â
When should I put on snow chains?
It is really a good question to answer. Much because you don’t just use snow chains, because its use is dictated by the weather conditions in which you drive.
Never use snow chains unless the road is covered by a thick layer of such substances like snow, ice or mud. Otherwise, use your tires as they were supplied.
Are cables or chains better?
For us to answer this question satisfactorily, we must consider different parameters first. One, snow chains are heavier and trickier to instal than cables are, but they are more durable, which makes them better for driving on snow.
On the other hand, cables are both lighter and much easier to instal than are snow chains. In addition, cables are less likely to damage your vehicle even if one of them breaks.
So, taking all these into consideration, snow chains are better than cables, though you may give yourself a reason to still prefer the cables. After all, your vehicle, your choice. Though everybody actually wants something that will last long, regardless of cost.
Do tire chains work on black ice?
Black ice is nothing other than regular ice, which is produced when water crystallizes on the road. Driving on black ice is quite unlike driving on snowy roads.
It is good to know that snow chains and studded tires grip into snow-covered roads to create more traction with it. For this reason,Â snow chains do not work very well on black ice. The only option really available is for you to clear the ice off the road.
Will Snow Chains Damage Rims – Conclusion
Driving on snow or ice-covered roads is a different enterprise from driving on plain roads. After all, the snow on the road will basically fill the grooves on the tires such that there is little or no friction for any controlled movement to take place.
Your best bet in such instances is the use of snow chains. As a result, you should learn whatever there is to know about their proper installation and effective use.
I am passionate about all things automotive and have a deep understanding of the topic. As a mechanic, I use my free time to share knowledge of everyday challenges that any car owner can experience – helping you make informed decisions about tires.