How to put snow chains on the car

In the middle of the journey, you come across a totally snowy road that is only allowed to drive with chains, so you go down to put them on … but you don’t know how to do it. Such a common situation, as easy to avoid if you follow these tips.

Snow chains were invented in 1904 as a system to increase wheel traction on snowy or muddy surfaces. The basic concept of this device has not evolved much, as chains very similar to those of the time continue to be marketed … although, now, there are also other varieties that are more modern and convenient to install, such as fabric or mixed ones. Placing them is a simpler process than it may seem, and in this report we are going to tell you how to do it. Of course, remember that, with the chains on, the maximum speed is limited to 50 km / h, and that you must stop to dismount them when there is no longer snow; if you don’t you will break them.

On which wheels are the chains put

Chains must be placed on the drive wheels (those that receive the power from the motor). That is, if your car is front-wheel drive -75% of the models are-, you should put them on the front wheels. On the other hand, if your vehicle is rear-driven, you will have to install them on the rear tires. And if your car is an all-wheel drive, the ideal is to put chains on all four wheels, but each 4 × 4 drive system has its peculiarities *, so sometimes you can install them only on one axle. If your car is 4 × 4, it is best to consult the manual of the vehicle, since there it will indicate on which axis -or axles- you should place them.


Install in 8 minutes

fabric chains

1.- In truth, they are not chains, but some nylon covers. Unroll them to check that you mount them in the correct direction.

installation process of fabric chains

2.- It is about placing the cover as if you were ‘putting a coat’ on the tire. Start at the top of the wheel, making sure that the fabric is well attached to the tread and the sidewalls of the tire and work it out across the entire surface of the wheel.

fabric chain installation

3.- Once you get to this point, You must release the vehicle’s handbrake and make it advance a few centimeters so that the wheel ‘steps’ on the cover. That is when you can complete the assembly by pulling the cover to cover the part of the tire that you still have to cover.

fabric chain installation

4.- Although the circumference of the cover It is not totally concentric to the wheel, do not worry, because as soon as you start the march, it will adjust. The ‘but’ of these chains is that you must remove them as soon as there is no snow, otherwise you will destroy them in just 500 meters. In addition, they must be washed after each use.

Photo gallery: How to put snow chains on the car


Install in 20 minutes

classic chains

1.- These are the ‘lifelong’ chains And because of that, they have the advantage of their low price. The drawback is in its assembly, as it is much more cumbersome than in the case of modern fabric or mixed chains, which is why few drivers use them anymore. The first step is stretch them out on the ground to make sure that no piece of chain has been wrapped around another.

classic chains

2.-The uncomfortable thing about these chains is that you must stretch the steel cable behind the wheel and hook this mechanism, which will get your hands and arms dirty.

installation of classic snow chains

3.- Continue stretching the chain over the tread of the tire. Then move the vehicle a few inches so that the wheel ‘steps’ on the links and finishes covering the wheel with the chain.

installation of classic snow chains

4.-After that, link all the hooks and tensioners: It is quite intuitive to know which goes with which because, once the chain is in its correct position, there is only one way to fit them all together.

installation of classic snow chains

5.- This is the aspect of the wheel with the chain mounted. Since these particular chains have automatic tensioners, They will fit the wheel when you start out. Instead, with cheaper chains, you would have to tighten them manually, after which it is convenient to travel a few meters with the car -with about 25 m is enough-, get out of the vehicle and re-tension them to continue your march. In any case, another drawback of metal chains, beyond their difficult assembly, is that scratch tires easily, especially if they are made of aluminum.


Install in 12 minutes


1.- These are chains that combine the ease of assembly of the fabric ones with the efficiency on snow of the link chains, which is why they are the most expensive. The first thing you should do is stretch them on the ground to check that no knots have formed. As you will appreciate, they have links for the tread, but the ring that is placed on the back of the wheel is made of nylon and the front part is also made of textile material.

mixed chains

2.- Place the nylon ring behind the wheel to later extend the rest of the chain over the entire tread of the tire. Unlike all-metal chains, mixed chains do not have tensioners, so it is easier to install them.mixed caednas

3.- As with fabric and metal chains, you will need to move the car forward a few centimeters so that it is on the links and to be able to finish stretching the chain on the wheel

mixed chains

4.- The normal thing is that, when you finish putting the chains, heThe textile part is not completely centered on the rim, but do not worry, as it will adjust itself as soon as you start the march. Of course, it is important that you remove the chains when you see that the road no longer has snow, since these links are especially aggressive with the rubber of the tire, so you could damage them.

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