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Everything you need to know about snow chains

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.
Snow chains: models and fitting

Advice and recommendations on how to fit and use snow chains - Copyright © All Rights Reserved

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:

Models

Features

Pros

Cons

Ladder chains

Ladder-chains

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Parallel strands

  • Accessible price
  • Decent drivability on moderately snowy roads
  • Braking and handling hindered by the lack of lengthways strands.
  • Limited performance in thick snow.

Diamond chains

Diamond-tyre-chains

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Crossed strands

  • Good grip, drivability and braking.
  • Vibrations are minimised, making for a comfortable driving experience.
  • Slightly more expensive.

Fast-fit chains

Fast-fit-chains

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Their adaptor makes them easy to fit and position correctly

  • Easy and quick to fit.
  • More expensive.
  • Slightly less efficient than conventional chains.

rezulteo tip:

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.

Disadvantage

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.

Disadvantage

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.
  • Never drive on a broken chain.

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