After an ice or snow event, how many times have you looked outside at the road and thought, “Eh, I can chance it”? Every winter, millions of us either stay off the road, go out only to become stuck, or even get in accidents due to loss of control.
Life – and by extension, work – isn’t always canceled just because of the weather. Therefore, making a brief investment into a set of snow chains and popping them in the boot is a smart idea indeed.
Snow chains differ from snow tires in that they provide more traction in frozen conditions. Additionally, they cost much less than a new set of seasonal tires. However, you can use both together for best results.
First, you need to ensure that snow chains are appropriate for your vehicle. Check with the manufacturer to see if you can use snow chains, and see if there are any other recommendations provided, such as size. Size is especially important as it pertains to the clearance provided by your wheel well.
Shopping around will be necessary, as different chains have different features, uses, coatings, methods of installation, and more.
For example, many will have automatic adjustment and a quick release mechanism. Both of these are favorable for getting the best fit to your tires, as well as low-effort removal once you’ve parked. You’ll probably pay a little more for these features, but if you drive in winter weather regularly, it’s very much worth it.
The shape of the chain links matters, too. Square links and D-shaped links are ideal for snow and ice, although the square links may make for a bumpier ride. Twisted links are good for off-roading, when drivers may encounter deep mud. Roller links are good for occasional light snow, and are preferred by drivers who don’t like the rough ride that can come from fitting chains on their tires.
And then you have some specialty features, like ice spikes, also known as icebreakers. These studded chains are a great pick for people who are more concerned with driving in icy conditions, and aren’t so daunted by snow.
Avoiding vehicle damage and injury is what we all aspire to when we brave ice and snow on the road. When chains dig into the ice and snow outside, it has an impact on how well we handle the vehicle from inside.
For one thing, it makes it safer to increase our speed a bit, so snowy morning commutes don’t double in length. Still, tire chains are for more extreme weather conditions, and you shouldn’t drive at normal speeds while using them.
Chains also make turns safer, with a decreased likelihood of losing control as we attempt to right the vehicle after making that turn. Many of us have driven down an icy straightaway, nervously anticipating that sharp turn we have to make.
Most chains are really easy to apply once you’ve done a practice run. This winter, don’t get stuck – chain up. Explore what chain styles are right for your automobile, and never lose sleep over another nasty weather forecast.