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Fitting and using snow chains

Alloy wheels in winter

Snow chains can be fitted to most cars, SUVs and trucks. They greatly improve traction on snow and ice and can be a temporary solution when fitted over summer tyres.

They are useful, for example, if you are driving to a ski resort where the local climate is colder and icier than your usual driving conditions. It’s important, however, to check what the legal requirements are where you plan to drive as some countries insist on winter tyres while others demand snow chains are used. Equally, as snow chains can cause damage to road surfaces, there may be minimum snow coverage limits.

If they are legally acceptable, you’ll need to know all about fitting and using snow chains.

Getting the right chains

Uniroyal Snow Chains on Tyre Graphic

To begin, make sure that you’ve bought the right chains for your particular vehicle. You should be able to find details in your manufacturer’s handbook. Bear in mind that snow chains can be a problem on some cars. If yours has insufficient clearance between the tyre and the wheel arch/vehicle suspension you may need to consider a snow sock or find a manufacturer that can cater for your particular make and model.

Once you’re happy with the clearance at the back of the wheel and between the road surface and the wheel arch, you need to buy chains that are suitable for your tyre dimensions and vehicle weight/power.

Snow chains are sold in pairs and are usually fitted to the drive wheels. Again, check with your manufacturer’s handbook for advice. While some people consider two chains to be enough, two pair will be better.

Checklist for fitting and using snow chains

  • Check your vehicle is suitable for snow chains
  • Find out what the regulations are where you plan to use them
  • Practice fitting them ahead of your journey
  • Drive smoothly and slowly (max 30 mph)
  • Check for damage regularly and clean and dry chains after use.


Fitting and using show chains

Don’t wait until you’re about to climb a snowy mountain road to try your snow chains out for the first time. Although they’re relatively easy to fit, practice is extremely important. Follow the instructions carefully on the packaging and contact the supplier if you have any questions.

In most cases you will need to turn off your car’s traction control/anti-skid once you’ve fitted your snow chains, but check your handbook for advice.

To prevent the chains from braking, avoid any sudden movements. Pull away gently and drive carefully and slowly, avoiding harsh acceleration and braking.

Uniroyal MS plus 77 on silver car driving in snow

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