Which Tires To Put Chains On?

Last Updated September 9, 2022

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Cars are designed to be used throughout the entire year which means that sometimes you will have to compromise in order to get the best possible performance. One of the best things you can do to increase your traction on snow is to invest in a pair of high-quality snow chains.

Which Tires To Put Chains On?

However, before you decide to do so, you ought to educate yourself about how to use them properly. So, which tires to put chains on?

Which Tires To Put Chains On

It depends on the type of car you own. If you own a front-wheel-drive car, the best thing you can do is put chains on your front tires. On the other hand, if you own a rear-wheel-drive car, you ought to put chains on your rear tires. The logic behind this is simple – always put the chains on the tires that deliver power to the road.

Therefore, if you use an AWD/4WD car, it’s best to equip all of your tires which snow chains. If you tend to drive through really deep snow for extended periods of time, it also makes sense to have all four of your tires chained even if you don’t own an AWD/4WD car.

How To Put On Tire Chains The Right Way?

  • Use instructions
  • Install your chains correctly
  • Tighten your chains after putting them on

Should I Use Instructions While Putting Tire Chains On?

You most definitely should. There are different types of tire chains on the market which means that not all of them function in the exact same way. You can use cable tire chains if you don’t often encounter snow or you want a more streamlined form factor that does not take up too much space on your wheels and in your trunk.

On the other hand, regular diamond chains are slightly beefier and are best suited for more severe conditions. Either way, be sure to consult yourself with all the instructions that come with your tire chains to always mount them correctly. Also, be sure to go through your owner’s manual and see if there is anything special you need to do for your particular car.

How To Install Tire Chains Correctly?

The first step should always be to place your chains on the ground correctly and push them directly behind the tire. Go from the left side to the right side of the tire and make sure to start with the end of the yellow cable. The idea here is to center your chains correctly and then pull them over the tire so you can easily connect the blue and yellow cable.

Now it’s time to take the red hook and connect it to the nearby golden link so your tire chain center rails are directly placed down the middle of the tire. If you’ve done this correctly, you should be able to identify diamond shapes that span across the entire surface of the tire. Now it’s time to lock in the red bungee chain buckle to the golden chain which should make a loop that keeps the chains in place.

How To Tighten Tire Chains Correctly?

While mounting the chains onto the tire, you shouldn’t tighten them immediately as that can cause them to either break or come loose. You ought to tighten your chains after driving about 15 feet so your chains can settle on the wheel properly. Most chains also tend to relax a bit after a short while which means that you should retighten them a few times after setting off.

The best thing you can do is to take the red bungee situated at the end of the red chain and pull it tighter. When your chains are settled tightly, then it’s time to guide the red chain through the loop and secure it safely onto the end of the gold chain. This should keep the chains in place, but it’s always a good idea to check them after driving for a few dozen miles.

How To Drive With Tire Chains?

  • Don’t drive with tire chains on dry pavement
  • Don’t exceed 25mph
  • Be sure to brake early and gently

Can I Drive With Tire Chains On Dry Pavement?

Driving with tire chains on dry pavement is going to damage your tires almost immediately as the weight of the car is likely to push the chains into the soft part of the tire. This can cause irreparable damage to the tire, especially if the damage occurs on the sidewall of the tire. Moreover, you are also likely going to damage your chains and even the road surface as metal isn’t designed to withstand contact with asphalt or concrete.

If you ignore this and you still drive with tire chains onto the dry pavement, there is a great deal of chance that your chains are going to break and thus even damage your paint and other parts of the vehicle. Your braking distances are going to be abysmal if you brake hard on dry pavement with tire chains on.

How Fast Can I Drive With Tire Chains On?

Snow driving is all about anticipation which means that you should go ahead and try to be delicate your driving inputs for them to be early and gentle. The general idea is to drive up to 20-30mph as these speeds are not going to damage your chains and are also going to enable you to react quickly if something unpredictable happens.

You need to keep in mind that tire chains are designed to maximize snow traction which means that they are not designed to make your car handle better. Driving with tire chains on significantly changes how a car behaves on any surface which is why you should always take it slowly and steadily.

How To Brake With Tire Chains On?

The best thing you can do is to always brake early. In order to be able to do this, you need to keep a safe distance from the car up front, otherwise, you will have to brake more aggressively, especially in the snow. If you encounter dry pavements, be sure to brake extremely gently as you don’t want your chains to slide on the dry pavement which can destroy them completely.

In the previous paragraph, we talked about anticipation as that is likely the most important thing to keep in mind when driving on the snow, no matter if you use tire chains or not. Also, try not to brake while turning as you want to brake while in a straight line. Even though tire chains help with traction, they are much worse when it comes to lateral movement.

How To Store Tire Chains Correctly?

When you reach your final destination, it’s always a good idea to take your chains off so they can’t expand or contract while the car is stationary. Be sure to spread your chains on the ground to let them dry before you store them. The idea behind this is to prevent corrosion which can destroy your chains and even cause an accident if you don’t notice that.

Checking your chains for wear and tear before you store them is also beneficial. If you do find any damaged links or flat spots, be sure to replace them before using your chains again. Finally, store them in the box/bag that came with the chains, and always keep them in a dry and dark environment as you don’t want moisture to come in contact with the links or the hooks.

Is AWD Better Than Snow Chains?  

There is a common misconception out there that having AWD is going to offer you enough traction that you won’t even need to use proper winter tires, let alone chains. This is, of course, completely and utterly false because AWD is highly dependent on your tires. So, if you own summer tires on an AWD car, you are risking ending up in an accident as this combination might just as well be the worse of them all.

On the other hand, if you own proper winter tires, having AWD is going to aid in traction, but only because of your tires. As such, tire snow chains are better than AWD when it comes to snowy traction, but if you own an AWD car with proper winter tires, snow chains might not be as necessary.

Either way, chains will increase your snow traction no matter if you have proper tires or AWD. If you want to know how tire chains compare to dedicated snow tires, be sure to click here.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever wondered which tires to put chains on, the general rule of thumb is to put them on the tires that provide all the pulling power. As such, a FWD car should have snow chains on the front tires while a RWD car should have snow chains on the rear tires. AWD and 4WD should be chained completely which means that all four of your wheels should be chained at all times.

However, no matter if you own a FWD or a RWD car, chaining all four of your wheels is going to increase traction and aid in weight balance which can make all the difference if you tend to drive on snowy inclines and declines.

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