If you live in an area where snow is common, it pays to be prepared for bad weather. It is very important you know how to install and use snow chains.
Part of living in areas that commonly get snow and ice is knowing how to install snow chains. This is particularly important if you live in an area with steep mountain roads and passes. While putting on tire chains is not extremely difficult, it can feel like it is impossible when doing it the first time in adverse conditions.
To avoid stress, do a dry run when you first buy the chains, hopefully well before you need them. These simple steps can get you through the installation: Step 1 recommends finding an empty space to park your car, Step 2 advises putting on the parking brake, Step 3 helps you figure out which tires need chains, Step 4 tells you how to position the chains, Step 5 is about securing the chains, and Step 6 recommends test-driving your car with the chains on before going on a long trip.
Part 1 of 1: How to install tire or snow chains
Step 1: Pick a vacant parking lot or open stretch of pavement. When you do the trial run of installing your snow chains, you want to find a vacant parking lot or an open stretch of uninhabited pavement.
The last thing you want is to be in the middle of installing your chains, only to have to move your car to get out of someone’s way. You also want the room to maneuver as you unpack and separate your chains.
Step 2: Engage the parking brake. Once you park, you want to make sure your parking brake is engaged and you have the car in gear.
You will working near your tires, so safety is a priority. Not only is a rolling car dangerous in this situation, it can cause a mess when it comes to your chains.
Step 3: Determine which tires need chains. The first thing to determine is which tires the chains should go on.
If your car is front-wheel drive, they should go on the front wheels.
If it’s rear-wheel drive, put them on the rear tires.
If you’re driving in extremely bad conditions or for specific trucks, you may need to put snow chains on all the tires. But in most conditions, you will only need to put them on two.
Step 4: Position the chains on your tires. The next step is to position the chains on your tires. Starting with one tire first, hold the top of the chain and evenly place it over the wheel.
You will only be able to cover about two-thirds of the tire at this time as the bottom will be against the road.
Repeat the same steps on the other tire, or all of them if needed.
Once done, slowly drive forward a few feet so that the bottom has moved and is exposed.
At this point, you can attach the ends of the chains.
Step 5: Secure and tighten chain on tires. To secure your snow chains, you should pull the closer links together as tight as you can. You can drive your car at this point, but stop after 50 to 75 feet. You will need to get out and tighten your chains again.
The short distance of driving will allow the chains to settle into the tires and will cause them to slightly loosen.
Step 6: Test drive to get an idea what it will feel like with chains. Even though you are practicing in dry conditions, it is important to get a feel of what it is like to drive with snow chains on your tires.
It will be bumpier and rougher than snowy conditions, but it will give you a good idea. However, don’t drive too far. Snow chains are not meant to be used on dry roads and can damage your tires if not used for what they were designed for.
Use caution to not tangle your chains when you remove them.
If you know you will be traveling in snowy weather, make sure you pack waterproof winter gear in your car. You need it to be waterproof, because it is likely you will need to kneel in the snow to install your snow chains. You should also pack warm, yet thin, gloves because you need the dexterity bulky winter gloves won’t allow. Being prepared is a big part of successful chain installation.