What Are Tire Chains, And Should You Trust Them?

The unpredictability of season and road conditions has been a greater issue for drivers all around the world, and for that same reason, there are different categories of tires made for different conditions. 

Summer tires for warm and dry road conditions, all-terrain tires for different road conditions, and winter tires for snow terrains. But sometimes there is a situation where specific tires might not be enough for extreme terrain situations. 

For that, these types of extensions are designed to tackle aggressive situations, and snow chains are one of them. 

Snow chains or winter tire chains are installed on the tread of the tire and bite through the snow to clear the path on deep snow terrains. They work as a supplementary device for the tires that would stuck in the snow unless the snow chains are attached. 

Just as simple as the concept seems, it is quite complicated in reality, Snow chains have been great for extreme winter terrains, but they can sometimes impact your drive, can be hard to install, and are sometimes illegal to even use on tires. 

Keep reading this article, where we will discuss everything about tire snow chains, whether are they proper extensions for your vehicles, and what results having a tire chain can bring on winter terrain drive. So stick to the end to find out all about tire snow chains. 

Introduction to tire chains

Tire Chains Working

Tire chains when correctly installed on tire tread work as a cleaning tool for tires, so the tread can make a proper contact and do not lose traction in contact with deep snow. The chains improve the driving control, especially with the worn tires on snow. As the movement is related to the driving tires, similarly the snow chains are installed on only driving tires, If you have front-wheel drive, install them on front tires, and same if it is rear-wheel drive, install them on rear tires. for AWD, check your car manual for proper guidance.

Types of Tire Chains

Classic chains

Classic tire chains

These are straight continuous chains just like any ordinary chains you have ever seen, unlike modern chains. Compared to new tire chains, these are hard to equip, require more expertise to install, and have low performance. 

However, they are far cheaper in price than modern chains. The purpose of both these chains are same, to improve traction and gip in extreme weather conditions. It does not matter which one you choose, both bring a relative performance change in snow conditions compared to no chain-covered tires. 

Quickfit chains

Diamond shape snow chains

These are new chains, which are usually available for small trucks and passenger vehicles. If you are driving commercial heavy-load trucks, you might not find these chains easily in your tire sizes. 

These quick-fit chains are very easy to install anyone without any practice can install them in about 5 minutes. These are very helpful when there is an uncertainty of conditions, and because they are very easy to install, they can quickly be requip and unequipped without any fuss. 

If you want better grip and traction, then these chains will be a better option, Even though they are expensive, they are very helpful and so easy to install. 

Snow cables

tire snow cables

These snow cables are just like snow chains just a little low in performance, but easier to equip. Even though these are not the type of chains, but they are very similar to chains, they are installed just like chains, The difference is that instead of chains, they have continuous cables, which also worked great in achieving proper traction. 

Substitute of Tire Chains

Studded tires

studded tires

Winter tires have different variants, one comes with small holes which can be studded at any time if the weather gets extreme. Unlike snow chains, this substitute is more common among winter drivers. 

Usually, once the tire is studded, the driver doesn’t take studs out of their tires, as it is not as big of a deal as chains. Studs also increase traction control and grip in extreme weathers, however the results compared to chains are not quite similar, snow chains are far better for most aggressive terrains. 

Snow socks

tire snow socks

These are my favorites when it comes to these extensions. The snow socks are the easiest to install just like wearing socks, and bring greater difference while being so cheap in price. Even though the results were not quite similar to chains and cables, for conquering the harsh conditions, they are more than enough. 

Snow claw

tire snow claw

These claws are also great for achieving proper traction and grip in extreme winter, however they are very easily breakable, due to the fabric connection between claws. For normal winters and slow driving, they are good, however at a fast pace in deep snow, they won’t be enough to handle harsh conditions. 

Usability of tire chains

Tire chains requirement

As such there are no requirements for tires to install snow chains, however, winter tires are preferred to install chains on due to the similarity of function both of these things equip. The purpose of chains and snow tires is to handle the snow terrains, and both merge with each other imporves the performance on snow terrains. However, there might be restrictions on your state, which should be checked into. 

Eligibility of tire chains in states

Different US states have different regulations regarding the usage of tie chains. Usually, all states allow drivers to use chains without any restriction when the weather is harsh and snow is not possible to be driven through without any extensions. However, it is better to check your state’s regulations before buying tire chains so that they won’t cause you any damage or go to waste. 

United States law on tire chains

Impacts of tire chains

As important as these chains seem, there are some big and small cons to these things. On straight roads, with chains on you might feel the handle dancing around without any input so the response might not be something that might satisfy your experience. 

With that, the hammering continuous noise, more fuel consumption, due to the more force tires require, asphalt damage, and tire early wear are some things that you have to accept when driving with snow chains. As snow chains are not permanent extensions, for small periods of time, dealing with extreme situations. 

Benefits of tire chains

Even though there are some impacts of tire chains compared to the advantages they provide is something acceptable. First of all, the improved traction and grip make every hurdle to grasp due to the safe drive in slippery conditions. 

With that, the hydroplaning resistance, fast pace, less chance of stuck tires, and a balance of control and stability are something what these small chains can bring to your vehicle. That is why for short periods, there is nothing better than tire chains to tackle harsh winter terrains.

How to install tire chains


The new diamond-shaped tire chains are quite easy to install. First, hold the chain from the top, connector in one hand, and lock on the other hand, then install it on top of the tire from the back and lock it. After that outer bottom of the tire, connect the tensioner with the chain, pull it so that it gets tied, and then lock it with the connector. 

For the classic chain, first, draw the chain in a straight line of the tires, then drive your car so that the tire comes on top of the chain, then cover the chain with a hand over the tread area of the tire and lock it, tighten it with a tightener and that’s it. Check out the video for a visual guide. 

Tools required

As such there is no requirement for tools while installing tire chains or cables, however, sometimes a tensioner and tightener might be needed, with some expertise in installing tire chains, Other than that you don’t need anything, just a package of tire chains in which all the tools and accessories will be available that require to install the tire chains. 

Cost of tire chains

The cost of tire chains is relative to the size of the chains and tires, if you buy manual chains with small tire sizes, then it may cost you sound somewhere between $50 to $100. Similarly, if you buy automatic tire chains with wide tires, then the cost could go above $500- $1000. The size and cost of tire chains are relatively proportional to the size of the chain and the variant. 

Outcomes/ results of tire chains

The research investigated the tractive performance of different tire conditions (new, worn) and with diamond-shaped tire chains across various soil types (including forest-floor conditions with pine straw and sod covers). Results unquestionably show that worn tires with chains had more traction control than new tires without chains, and tractive efficiency was highest for worn tires without chains. 

Tire chains were found to improve traction in forest soils. The study highlighted the importance of tire selection and traction aids for optimizing performance under different soil conditions, which is why installing tire chains are a better option rather than replacing little worn tires with new one. 


As it can be seen, tire chains can be very important sometimes, and due to the benefits they provide, it is a very great extension when dealing with extreme wintery situations. Although there are some impacts on using tire chains, however, for a shorter period just to handle the damaging situations it won’t hurt that much. 

We try to explain everything possible about tire chains and still, if you have any queries just ask in the comment section and we will try to answer you as soon as possible. 

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