You might have an all-wheel drive car with snow tires and think it’s awesome in the snow. You’re probably right. However, there are some situations where even snow tires aren’t enough. It’s time to chain up.


First, of course, you have to buy chains for your car. They are sold in specific sizes, so buy the ones that fit your tires. There is a lot of variety in prices, but even the cheap ones are decent enough in a pinch. Once you have them home, practice putting them on. Your first time putting on chains should be on a safe, flat, and dry surface on a warm sunny day. Do not try to figure out how they work at night on the side of a road in a blizzard. Read the manual for any aspects unique to your set, and go from there.

Chain Up

tire chainsLay out the chain on the ground, spikes down. Straighten out the chains until each set resembles a chain ladder. Now, you will either drive onto the chains, or drape them over the tire. If the former, drive to the midway point with the tires centered in the chain, then stop, set the parking brake, and wrap the chain around the tire, and finishing with the connectors on each side of the tire. If the latter style chains, simply drape over the tire, getting them reasonably centered.

With the fasteners out of the way, slowly drive forward about 1 foot. Stop, apply parking break, and connect fasteners to complete installation. For either style, connect the inboard fasteners first, then pull the chain snug to the tire, and connect the outboard fastener. The reasoning behind this is that once a connection is made, the second is a little trickier, and you want that to be the one right in front of you, not the one hiding behind the tire.

Follow Up

Remember that you chains will need tightening, so drive slowly as conditions allow for about a mile (or less according to your manual), then pull over and tighten the chains. Then you should be good to go. Keep in mind they are not fool-proof and you can lose control even while chained up. Keep your speed down, as going 70 will likely damage the chains, your tires, and the road.

Once you are free of the ice and snow, remove the chains. Most jurisdictions prohibit chains when conditions are not severe, so take them off as soon as you safely can. Be sure to store them in the manufacturer’s case, and put them back in your trunk for next time. If you have any questions, YouTube offers a lot of how-to videos, many demonstrated by police and chain manufacturers.

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