Purchasing Tire Chains for Winter Driving

| 11/13/2012 10:11:24 AM

Winter is here in earnest in some parts of the country bringing heavy snow and ice, making travel hazardous for the unprepared. In preparation for winter travel we install studded snow tires on our primary vehicle. But occasionally studded tires and four-wheel-drive aren’t enough. When conditions are really bad we also chain up the tires for the additional traction and safety tire chains provide.

If you’re thinking of purchasing tire chains for your vehicle there are some things you might want to consider. Chains come in different sizes and ratings. By size I don’t mean the specific size to fit your tires. I’m talking about the size and duty ratings of the chains themselves. In the photo below (photo 1) you’ll see three sets of tire chains. Those on the left are for light duty use on cars and light pickups that will probably never leave the pavement. The tire chains in the center are chains designed for medium duty use on pickups and SUV’s. The chains on the right are for heavy duty use on pickups and SUV’s. The primary difference is the thickness of the chain used (and how much they cost!)

Tire Chains Have Different Ratings 

Before you purchase tire chains take them out of the box and look them over carefully. What I’ve found is that the cheaper the chain the lighter duty it is. I recommend buying the heaviest chain you can afford. Mainly because if conditions are bad enough to need tire chains you want chains you can count on.

 There are some options you can choose from on tire chains also. In photo 2 (below) you’ll see two kinds of cross chains. Those at the top are regular chains and those on the bottom are called “V” bar cross links. The V-bar is best because the ends of the “V” dig into ice better and they last longer because it takes longer to wear through the link.

V Bar vs Regular Cross Links