Driving in snowy and icy conditions can be scary. There is always the fear that you will slip, slide, skid or crash, which could cause serious damage to your car or serious injuries to yourself and others. Tire chains can provide you with the peace of mind that you need when weather conditions become unfavorable to drive in. Outfit your tires with a high quality set of snow chains and you can drive with greater peace of mind.
While tire chains can certainly make driving in slick conditions safer, finding the best tire chains for your vehicle and your specific needs can be a bit of a challenge. There are so many different types of tire chains, so how do you know which ones to pick? To help you on your quest, we have put together this useful buyer’s guide, which is full of valuable information that will answer a lot of your questions and will make it easier for you to find the best and safest tire chains possible.
Types of Tire Chains
There are four main types of tire chains, including:
- Entry level snow tire chains
- Standard snow tire chains
- Premium snow tire chains
- Easy to install alternative traction devices
Understanding the differences between each type is important, as it will help you determine which type is best for your specific needs.
Entry Level Snow Tire Chains
These tire chains are intended to be used on passenger cars. They provide a significant increase in traction for tires on both snow and ice and they are well suits for use in climates that experience occasional snowy conditions through the winter months. Some entry level snow tire chains include accessories that aid in their installation. These snow tire chains are ideal for occasional use and are indispensible in emergency conditions; however, drivers who have to contend with snowy or icy conditions on a more frequent basis should consider more significant chains.
Standard Snow Tire Chains
Standard snow chains provide better traction on snowy and icy conditions for tires than entry level snow tires chains. They are a good choice for motorists who drive in areas that get frequent snowfall and for those who want to have a durable traction solution for their tires that can withstand a full season of use. They usually include all of the accessories that are necessary to install them, too. Do note that they are not recommended for occasional use.
Premium Snow Tire Chains
Compared to entry level and standard level snow tire chains, premium snow tire chains provide superior traction and grip and increased breaking performance on snow and ice. These tire chains are constructed with highly durable components that make them well suited for regular or daily use, and they are tough enough to be withstand use through several seasons. Premium chains often offer features that make them easier to install than other types of tire chains, which reduces the amount of time you will have to be exposed to the elements while putting them on. Premium snow tire chains are the most expensive of all snow tire chains, but their greater expense is well worth it if you want to ensure that you have an extremely reliable traction solution for your tires in the slippery and hazardous conditions of the winter weather.
Easy to Install Alternative Traction Devices
If you are looking for a traction solution for your tires that aren’t as involved or complicated to install as traditional snow tire chains, easy to install alternative traction devices are an excellent option. As they name implies, they are easy to install, which means that you won’t be as exposed to the elements as long as you would be if you were to use traditional types of tire chains. They are also designed with lower profiles than standard tire chains, which makes them suitable if you drive a vehicle that is not able to mount traditional snow chains.
Factors to Consider When Buying Tire Chains
There are several factors that you need to be taken into consideration when purchasing snow tire chains for your vehicle. These factors must be considered in order to ensure that you are purchasing the right type of chains for your tires so that they won’t damage the tires, and to also ensure your safety. What factors should you take into consideration? Here is a look at the factors that we think are the most important to consider.
The Size of Your Tires
The majority of vehicles can be equipped with snow chains; however, some cars and trucks have very low clearance between the tire and other internal components of the vehicle. To learn if your tires can be equipped with chains, consult with the owner’s or maintenance manual of your vehicle to verity that there aren’t any warnings that advise against the installation of snow chains. Once you have verified this, take very careful note of the three measurements that are posted on the side of your tires: The first number indicated the width of your tires; the second number indicated the tire height ration; the third number denotes the diameter of the wheel, which is expressed in inches. These measurements are critical in determining which tire chain size will properly fit your tires.
What type of conditions do you drive in? Do you live in an environment that only receive snow on a seldom basis, or do you live in a climate that experiences high amounts of snow? Will you be using the chains only once in a while, or you will have them on your tires for the majority of a season? Do you want to use them for more than one season? Do you want to find chains that are really easy to put on and that won’t require you to be exposed to the elements for a long period of time while putting them on? These are all factors that relate to your needs, and they are important factors to take into consideration when selecting the type tire chains that will work best for you.
The Size of the Chains
Once you have determined the size of your tires and the type of tire chains that will works best for you, you need to find out what size tire chains you need. To find out what size chains are best suited for your tires, inquire with your vehicle’s owner’s manual, consult a buyer’s guide for the chains you are considering buying, or ask an associate at a reputable auto shop.
Your State’s Laws
Some state’s do not allow the use of metal snow tire chains, especially chains that feature metal studs, as they can do extensive damage to the road. Make sure you find out whether or not your state allows tire chains to be used before you start shopping.
The Price of the Tire Chains
You should also consider the price of the tire chains when you are shopping for them. Tire chains vary significantly in price, which can impact your budget. Generally speaking, the heavier duty the chains are and the more features they offer, the more expensive the tire chains will be.
Tire Chain Features
Snow tire chains boast a variety of features. These features are all intended to enhance your use and make them safer; however, these features also tend to drive up the price of the tire chains. To determine If you need these features, or if they are something that you can live without, it is important to understand the different types of features and what they do.
Easy Installation Features
Some tire chains boast features that make them easier and quicker to install. They can be a clamp on installation or they can drape over the tire. These types of features usually aren’t found on entry level chains.
Tensioning can be one of the most challenging aspects of putting chains on your tires. To make this aspect easier, some tire chains feature automatic tensioning, which means that they will automatically tension onto your tires, thus saving you time and physical exertion.
Tire chains need to be properly centered onto the tires in order for them to be effective, and it can be challenging to center tire chains on your own. Tire chains that feature automatic centering will save you time and aggravation when putting your tire chains on.
Some tire chains are outfitted with metal studs, which are individually mounted into the holes in the treads. This feature is ideal for climates that experience a great deal of snow and ice; however, do make sure that you check with your state before buying tire chains that feature metal studs. As mentioned above, in some states, it is illegal to use tire chains that feature metal studs.
If you want to protect your investment and your vehicle, you may want to look for tire chains that come with warranties. If anything happens to your tire chains during the span of the warranty, you could potentially have them replaced or have your money reimbursed (do make sure that you check your warranty to find out the details.)
Best Tire Chain Brands
When shopping for tire chains, you will find that there are a number of brands to choose from. There are dozens of manufacturers who create tire chains, which is great, because it gives you options; however, having a lot of options can make it challenging to find the best tire chains for your specific needs. To help you, we have looked at all of the different options out there and have determined that the following brands of tire chains are the best of the best.
Thule is a leading distributor of premium tire chains, and some of the easiest tire chains to use. Their tire chains are made out of strong and durable materials and are incredible easy to install. They provide excellent traction and a variety of options.
Some of the most economical tire chains on the market are produced by Glacier. They make a wide range of tire chains that are made from various, high quality materials. They are also engineered with the most cutting edge technologies.
Perhaps the widest variety of tires chains on the market are made by Pewag. This company manufactures a great deal of tire chains in different types, styles and price ranges.
Titan Chains provide exceptional traction on the slipperiest surfaces. We really liked how easy their tire chains were to install and how easy they were to take off. We also liked how much safer we felt driving with these tire chains.