Snow chains are a system configured to increase the traction of the wheels of cars on muddy or snowy surfaces. They were invented in 1904 and the basic concept of the device has not changed excessively over time, since chains similar to those manufactured in the early years are still being marketed. However, there are now more modern and easy-to-install snow chains, such as mixed or fabric ones.
In any case, putting them on is a simple process if you follow a series of instructions. In addition, you should know that, according to the DGT, it is mandatory to carry snow chains in the car every time we go to places with the presence of snow.
On which wheels are the chains put
If you are wondering when to put snow chains, you should know that it is mandatory to carry snow chains in the car every time we go to places with the presence of snow. To facilitate the decision, the DGT makes an interactive map available to the user on its website, where the areas where snow chains are necessary for the car can be seen in red.
On the other hand, it is 50 km/h of maximum speed at which a car can be driven with snow chains. In addition, it is necessary to stop to remove them when there is no more snow on the asphalt; otherwise, you will run the risk of breaking them.
Where are the snow chains attached? The snow chains must be put on the driving wheels, that is, those that receive the force of the engine. Therefore, they will depend on the configuration of your car:
- Front wheel drive (most models have it, about 75%), you’ll need to put the chains on the front wheels.
- Rear wheel drive, you will need to put the snow chains on the rear tires.
- All- wheel drive, it is best to put the chains on all four wheels. Still, 4X4 drive systems have specific characteristics and can sometimes be installed on a single axle. If you are a 4X4 driver, consult the car manual: it will tell you which axle or axles you should fit the chains on.
In addition to mounting the chains and for your maximum safety on the road in the coldest seasons, we recommend you read our post on How to prepare the car for winter.
How to put classic snow chains on the car
Metal chains are the most classic and are assembled in just 20 minutes. Follow these steps to install them correctly.
stretch on the ground
The great advantage of metal chains is their low economic cost, but the main drawback is the difficulty of their assembly. The installation process is longer and more complicated than that of mixed or fabric chains, which is why they are used less and less.
The first step of its assembly is to stretch the chains on the ground, so unfold the chains to observe its mechanism before starting to assemble it. In this way, you make sure that the pieces of chain do not wrap around each other.
Stretch the steel cable behind each wheel to hook the system. This is one of the main inconveniences of the installation of the metal chains, doing it, it is very likely that you will dirty your arms and hands.
Keep stretching each chain over the tread of the wheel. Then, move the car a few inches so that the tire hits the links. Thus, each tire is covered with the chain.
Hooks and tensioners
Link hitches and turnbuckles. This is a fairly intuitive process, as you will easily know which one goes with which. With the chain placed in the correct position, there is only one way to fit them all at the same time.
Some metal chains have automatic tensioners, so they will adjust to the tire once you start driving. The cheapest ones usually have manual tensioners, therefore, travel about 25 meters with the car, get out of the car and readjust the chains to continue with your march.
How are fabric chains attached to the car?
Textile chains or fabric chains are very simple to place. Following these instructions, you will get it in just 8 minutes.
In practice, they are not chains but nylon sheaths. First, unwind the chains to make sure you put them in the right direction.
wrap the tire
The cover is put on as if you were going to shelter the wheel. Cover the upper part of the tire, checking that the fabric is well attached to the sidewalls and the tread of the wheel. Then, stretch the cover over the rest of the surface.
Once you have covered the wheels with the nylon cover, release the handbrake of the car so that it advances a few centimeters and each wheel steps on the cover itself. Now yes, complete the installation by pulling the covers to cover the areas of the wheels that remained to be covered.
Although the circumference of the cover is completely centric to the tire, it will adjust once you start driving. Remove if there is no snow, since the drawback of the fabric chains is that they are destroyed if the snow disappears in just 500 meters of travel. You should also wash them after each use.
How to put the mixed snow chains on the car
Mixed snow chains are also easy to put on. In just 12 minutes you will complete the installation. Follow these steps to get it.
stretch the chains
These chains combine the simplicity of assembly of fabric chains with the effectiveness of link chains on snow. Therefore, they are more expensive.
First, stretch the chains out on the ground to make sure no knots form. Observe the mechanism, the mixed chains have links for the treads. The ring that is put on the back of the tire is made of nylon. The front area is also textile.
Place the nylon rings
Put the rim behind each tire. Then, lay the rest of the chain across the tread of the wheel. The mixed ones do not have tensors unlike the metal ones, so they are easier to install.
Stretch the chain completely
As with metal and fabric chains, move the car forward a few centimeters so that it is positioned on the links. Thus, you can finish stretching each chain on its respective wheel.
Once you finish mounting the chains, it is possible that the textile part has not been completely centered on the rim. When you start driving, it will adjust itself.
Remove the chains when there is no snow on the road. These links are very aggressive with the rubber of the wheel, so you run the risk of damaging them if you do not remove them.
You may want to know more about how to take care of your car in the winter months, if this is your case, click on the following post about How to remove ice from the car.