Snow chains slip on over your tyres and should run with the links going at a right-angle to the direction that you are driving. They are sold in pairs and usually need to be fitted on the front wheels, depending on whether your vehicle has front or rear wheel drive.
Note that not all cars have a big enough gap between the tyre and the body to fit chains properly. If the chain is too big then it could come into contact with your bodywork, your car’s suspension or even your brakes. This could have some serious consequences and could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. If you decide that you want to use snow chains, then you should make sure that you buy the right chains for your tyres.
How to Install Snow Chains
Before you start, clear the wheel arch of snow, and check that the wheel will be able to move freely. Now drape the chain over your tyre, then connect all correctly positioned parts of the chain to the inner circle of the snow chain. You will notice that the bottom of the chain cannot be fitted yet as the tyre is touching the road. Repeat this process with the other tyre. Once this is done, slowly move your car forward by about a metre. This will expose the other half of the wheel which was previously touching the ground. The rest of the snow chains should be connected accordingly to the inner circle.
Practice putting on snow chains and removing them in your driveway so that you get comfortable with securing them properly, and make sure you understand how to drive with them safely. Do not drive with broken chains, because this can cause you to lose traction.
When to Use Snow Chains
You should only use snow chains when the road is covered with snow and ice. In the UK, all major roads are gritted and cleared on a regular basis, but if you drive in rural areas you may still need to carry a pair of snow chains with you.
After fitting the chains, drive carefully and take care not to exceed a speed of 30mph. Note that you can drive a car with only one pair of snow chains – fitted to the driven wheels – but it is even more effective to have chains on all four wheels. If you use only one pair of snow chains, then your cars handling will be affected. Front wheel drive cars with one pair of chains on the front wheels will most likely over steer, while rear wheel drive cars that have the chains fitted to the back of the car only will tend to understeer. If you have a four wheel drive vehicle, be sure to fit the chains to all four wheels.
Make sure you turn your traction control off when driving with snow chains fitted. Drive slowly, and pay attention to the handling of the car. If the chains slip, break or otherwise appear to be giving you problems, stop and adjust them. Snow chains are intended to get you out of a tight spot, and you should not expect to be able to drive as normal with them fitted.