There are three main types of snow chain available on the market: ladder chains, diamond chains and fast-fit chains. If you need to invest in a set, for example for a skiing trip, this guide will help you decide which model is best for you.
By yoconorPublished On: 31 May 2021Categories: Seasons498 words2.7 min read
What are the different types of snow chain and what makes each of them unique?
In the UK you’re unlikely to need snow chains very often, in fact you’re only allowed to use them if there is snow or ice completely covering the road. However in some countries special equipment is compulsory on mountain roads in snowy conditions. In France, for example, the B26 sign informs motorists that snow chains must be used. Here’s a summary of the different types:
Accessible priceDecent drivability on moderately snowy roads
Braking and handling hindered by the lack of lengthways strands.Limited performance in thick snow.
Good grip, drivability and braking.Vibrations are minimised, making for a comfortable driving experience.
Slightly more expensive.
Their adaptor makes them easy to fit and position correctly
Easy and quick to fit.
More expensive.Slightly less efficient than conventional chains.
Just like for snow socks, make sure that you choose the right size for your wheels. Some sports and luxury vehicles do not have sufficient clearance for conventional chains and require a special model. Other vehicles simply cannot be fitted with snow chains.
How are snow chains attached?
Size is not the only consideration. There are two mechanisms for attaching the three different types of chains – wire fasteners and cable fasteners. We advise you to opt for cable fasteners, which are cheaper and more practical.
Using wire fasteners
Wire fasteners use a steel wire placed behind the tyre, kept tight by a chain around the outside of the wheel.
Not easy to fit. It is best to practice beforehand.
Using cable fasteners
This method uses a cable which is extended once the chain has been fitted. Cable fasteners are easy to fit and leave quite a large space for fitting. They are quick to fit (on average five minutes). They are the most common and least expensive fasteners.
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the system beforehand to make fitting easier.
Using snow chains correctly: our tips
Always fit your chains to your vehicle’s drive wheels. For SUVs, refer to the manufacturer’s handbook.
Don’t wait for a snowstorm to try out your chains. Try them out beforehand, firstly to ensure that they are the right size for your wheels, and secondly to familiarize yourself with how to fit them.
Keep your snow chains in your vehicle at all times in winter, as well as gloves and a torch in case you need to fit the chains at night.
Drive carefully when using chains: do not exceed 30 mph to ensure optimal road holding and avoid damaging your vehicle (shock absorbers, wheel rims, brakes etc).
Remember to tighten your chains once you have been using them for a while.
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