You might have a jarring memory of skidding around in your vehicle when the roads were layered with snow.
If your car doesn’t have all-wheel drive, you’re probably considering taking preventive measures to make sure your vehicle’s tires don’t fail you when it counts.
Tire chains, sometimes referred to as snow chains or snow tire chains, are a common choice. A brief search of “snow tire chains’’ on Auto website range from $30 to over $450 in price.
How to fit snow chains
With the car's parking brake on and the car in gear, simply place the chain over the tire, holding it at the top and letting it fall down evenly over the front of the tire & wheel. Obviously, the bottom of the chain can't cover the part of the tire that's touching the road: just do what you can.
Some chains have rings that go on the inside of the wheel, to help guide the chains into place. For these ring-type chains, be sure the open connection is at the bottom of the wheel. Once you put these chains on with the ring around the inside of the wheel, you can connect the bottom of the ring. Usually you'll need to grope around under the car by the tire.
Once the first chain is evenly and securely on the three-quarters of the wheel not touching the road, put the other chain on the other tire. When both chains are on, drive forward less than a meter to expose the part of the tire previously touching the ground. Put the brake on again, and finish securing both chains. Tighten the chains, by using a closer link where they close.
How to install tire chains
1. Make sure you order the correct size. If you don’t have the correct size, the cables can cause damage to your vehicle. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for all the details.
2. Remove cables from the box, and stretch them out on the ground, cross-member hooks facing down. Inspect for any damage.
3. Upon careful inspection, pick up the cables and drape them over the top of your tire. Be sure the keyhole latch attachments are on the right-hand side of the tire and that the lever lock rests on the outer sidewall of your tire. Also, be sure that the cross-member hooks are facing up, so they face away from the tire tread.
4. Roll your cables down toward the left-hand side of your tire, and tuck extra cable back around your tire, on the outer and inner walls of your tire.
5. Move your vehicle forward until the lever lock sits at approximately 2 to 3 o’clock on the tire (lining up with the axle). At this point, it’s important to turn off your vehicle and set your emergency brake.
6. Move to the inner wall of your tire, and fasten the cables on the inner sidewall. Pull the end of the side cable with the knobs up through the keyhole latch, tightening the cables. Excess cable can be secured with the provided clip.
7. For the outer sidewall, go through the same steps of pulling the end of the side cable with the knobs up through the keyhole latch, tightening and securing.
8. Make sure everything is centered, all the cross-member hooks are centered over the tire tread, everything looks even, etc. Then close the lever lock, fastening to the side cable.
It may take a bit of re-adjusting on both the inner and outer sidewalls to make sure everything is centered, even and secure. Catch any excess cable with the provided clip. When you’re all done and everything looks good, drive about a ¼ of a mile just to make sure everything’s as tight, centered and even as it should be.
And that’s all there is to it! Once you install them a couple times, it becomes even easier. The best part is you’re all set when you’re stuck in the next winter snowstorm or have an emergency situation. Or maybe you’re headed to the mountains in the dead of winter. Tire chains or cables could definitely come in handy then!
(Disclaimer: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for details regarding installation of traction cables or tire chains.)