Tire Chains: How and When to Use Them

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Tire chains are used to improve traction when driving on snow and ice, especially on steeper inclines. While they make the vehicle more difficult to drive and they reduce fuel efficiency, sometimes tire chains are necessary to ensure safe driving during inclement weather conditions. Depending on the road conditions, tire chains may be required in certain areas. It’s best to be prepared. Store your tire chains in your car and learn how to install them before heading out.

When Do You Need Tire Chains?

Typically, drivers use chains when they are required to. If you’re taking a trip to the mountains during the colder months, check with your local State Patrol or Department of Transportation to see if chains are required on the roads you’ll be taking. If you’re planning to go skiing or snowboarding, the ski resorts usually provide this information as well. When you’re driving, you may see signs indicating when chains should be installed. Don’t put on the chains until you need them as they reduce driving speed dramatically and can damage roads.

What Kind of Tire Chains Are Needed?

Tire chains are sold in sets of 2. While chains can be installed on all 4 tires, they are normally installed only on the drive tires. There are different types of chains for different tires. It is not one-size-fits-all. Consult the owner’s manual for your vehicle to determine which type of tires you need. Sport Chalet provides tire chain sizing charts to help you determine which one to buy.

To figure out exactly which chains you need, you will need to know the tire code number for your tires. The tire code can be found on the sidewall of your tires. It is typically a 9 or 10 digit code beginning with the letter P (for passenger car) or LT (for light truck). It will look something like this, P215/65R15. With this information, you will be able to identify the correct tire chains for your vehicle.

How Do You Install Tire Chains?

It may sound difficult, but with a couple practice tries, most drivers have no problem installing their own tire chains. It’s a good idea to practice at home before heading into a snowy, icy area. Just make sure to not drive around with chains unless you really need them.

Most tire chains will come with instructions on how to install that particular brand. As an overview for installing chains, first you must unroll them and lay them flat near the tire. Drape the chain or cable up and over the top of the tire. You’ll then need to roll the vehicle forward slightly. This will position the middle part of the cable under the tire and allow you to connect the ends. Connect the cable, beginning with the inner side of the tire and then connect the outer sidewall. Make sure the cable crossmembers are centered over the tire tread. Once connected, drive carefully for a short distance and then recheck to make sure the tire chains were installed properly.

If you have any questions about which chains are right for your vehicle, ask one of the experts at Sport Chalet. Not only do they sell many types of quality tire chains, they can also offer tips on installation so you can stay safe on your way to fun in the snow.

Sport Chalet

We’re experts on a mission to help you excel at all the things you’d rather be out doing. Sport Chalet has 54 retail stores offering the hottest brand name apparel and equipment for beginners to pros.

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Read Comments {1}

  1. Flex Trax are far better for your tires then snow chains. GoClaws and SnoClaws are safe for the road and will not tear up your car like chains do.

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