Driving in cold weather where snow and ice cover the road can be challenging if you lack the right tools to help you out. Fortunately, the best tire chains can improve traction to enhance your safety while offering you the convenience of quickly putting them on or off. If you are unsure which ones to buy, you can learn how to select these essential winter driving equipment and check out our top recommendations.

What Are Tire Chains?

A tire chain is typically a series of metal rings linked together in a pattern around the wheel to increase its grip on the road when a layer of snow or ice is on the surface. Traction helps keep the vehicle on the road, which reduces the risk of getting into an accident from skidding.

Installing and removing a tire chain can be time-consuming if it does not have a modern design. Consequently, it is vital to understand the different features available on the market and whether they will suit your uses when buying the product.

Which are the best tire chains?

5 Best Tire Chains

1. Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain

Sale
Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set...
  • Country of origin : China
  • Designed for cars, pickups, and SUVs with...
  • Fast easy installation with no need to move...
  • Designed-in rubber tightener means there is...

Coming in the number one spot for the best snow chains is the Security Company Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain. This tool consists of small steel coils that act like tiny ice picks that improve your grip on icy and snowy roads. Also, these lighter chains offer comparable strength to metal chain links. However, the Super Z6 has a low profile which comes in handy in cars with a small clearance.

These heavier-duty tire chains from the Security Chain Company are lighter and simple to install. To put them on, unfold the chain with the tire-side sign facing upwards, push it underneath the tire, and catch it on the other side. Next, connect the two ends on the top of the wheel, then drape it over it and attach the black connector at the top. Finally, link the gold connector and use the rubber tightener to tension the chain in a star-like pattern.

Pros

  • The design can fit numerous types of vehicles if you get the right size for them.
  • The heavy-duty chains offer enough clearance, thanks to the low profile.
  • Simple installation as you do not need to move your car.
  • The spring-style construction offers more reliable traction than traditional chains.

Cons

  • It can be costly to some users.
  • Fixing the small components in the cold can complicate installation.

2. Peerless Auto-Trac 0231705 Tire Traction Chain

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Peerless 0231705 Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Worry-free self-tightening ratchets provide...
  • Easy installation and removal in minutes
  • Do not exceed 30 MPH with these chains on
  • Diamond pattern cross chain provides a...
  • Meet class 'S' clearance requirements

The Peerless Auto-Trac 0231705 Tire Traction Chain has the features to deliver long-time durability and reliable performance. For starters, it is durable thanks to the polycarbonate construction. Plus, it is widely compatible with numerous tire sizes thanks to its patented tensioning system.

Additionally, these tire chains have links made from manganese alloy steel which is lighter and smaller than typical cross members. This property increases contact between the road and the tire while reducing the impact on the driving surface. Thus, the product is much more wear-resistant.

Pros

  • Installation can take a few minutes.
  • Self-tightening ratchet system.
  • It offers consistent traction.
  • You get a smoother ride with these snow chains on.

Cons

  • It is not the cheapest option.
  • Getting the right size is critical for a secure fit.

3. Security Chain Company ZT747 Super Z LT Tire Traction Chain

Security Chain Company ZT747 Super Z LT Light Truck and SUV Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Fastest, easiest installation of any traction...
  • Built-in rubber tensioner means there is no...
  • Better all-around traction performance than...
  • Greater durability than conventional tire...
  • Better compatibility with anti-lock brakes,...

The ZT747 Super Z LT Tire Traction Chain from the Security Chain Company offers one of the quickest and simplest installation procedures for snow chains. For starters, the built-in rubber tensioning device means that once they fit, you do not have to stop and exit the vehicle to tighten them. Plus, they meet SAE Class S standards since they can fit on wheels with little clearance.

These tire chains can fit SUVs, light trucks and off-road vehicles with snow tires. Additionally, they offer superior compatibility with various electronic controls in your car, like ABS and AWD systems. Finally, the traction you get from these metal snow chains far exceeds what traditional ones are capable of.

Pros

  • It is compatible with various electronic monitoring and control systems like AWD, ABS and traction control.
  • Low-profile.
  • Quick installation.
  • You do not need to stop the vehicle and retighten.

Cons

  • Durability concerns.

4. Konig CB-12 090 Snow Chains

Konig THULE | CB-12 090 Snow chains, set of 2 (2004365090), Silver
  • 195/80-14, 205/70-14, 195/70-15, 205/65-15,...
  • The simple and sturdy manual tensioning...
  • 12 mm inside and on-the-tread clearance.
  • Certifications: Ö-Norm 5117, UNI 11313,...

The Konig CB-12 090 Snow Chains offer superior tension that eases driving on snowy roads with slippery sections. Since this product requires manual adjustment, you can ensure precise installation on numerous tire types. Plus, the clearance is a mere 12 millimeters which significantly reduces the risk of the snow chain damaging your vehicle.

Effortlessly slip these tire chains on and tighten them without much hassle. Also, it is made from a high-quality alloy for improved traction, while the diamond pattern and small-angle design make them suitable when you are on an asphalt road.

Pros

  • A simplistic design.
  • Affordable.
  • Smooth driving.
  • Simple installation.

Cons

  • It may not last as long as the other options.

5. Glacier 1046 Passenger Cable Tire Chain

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Glacier 1046 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
  • Case hardened steel rollers on cable cross...
  • Suitable for front and rear wheel drive...
  • Type "S" limited clearance; Light weight and...
  • Meets all state requirements for cable...
  • NOTE: Tire chains are made for THE CORRECT...

If you own a car with limited clearance and wheel well access, the Glacier 1046 Passenger Cable Tire Chain is an ideal option. This product will fit passenger vehicles with wheel sizes of 14 to 20 inches in diameter. Also, they offer quick installation and meet all road safety recommendations for traction and freeway use.

Moreover, hardened steel, the material used in making these tire chains, offers reliable durability. In addition, the design of loosely connected tiny cylinders ensures it does not snap when you are driving. Finally, these features allow it to provide a dependable grip on slippery roads.

Pros

  • Plenty of clearance, thanks to the very low-profile design.
  • Easy transport and storage because it is compact and lightweight.
  • The design ensures you do not have to contend with chains snapping.

Cons

  • It does not offer the best traction.
  • It is not ideal for driving long distances.

What Should I Consider When Buying the Best Tire Chains?

a). Types of Tire Chains

1. Alternative Chains

Generally, people do not consider alternative chains actual snow chains, but they offer the same function of increasing your grip during snow and ice conditions on the road. Additionally, these variations are lightweight, making installing them simple. Plus, they are more compact and will not occupy much space in your boot.

These tire chains can be thick textile fabrics or a thin, rugged material that increases your traction on winter roads. If you do not experience heavy snow, this type ensures you are always prepared as they are easy to store and set up.

2. Diamond Tire Chains

This variation represents the traditional tire chains that have a diamond design construction for the metal links. These heavy-duty chains work best in areas with deep snow and icy surfaces, especially when the diamond vertices are small. Additionally, the pattern can cover the entire tire to increase the area of the contact surface. Consequently, you will get better traction on snowy roads.

3. Cable Tire Chains

This variation improves traditional tire chains with enhancements that make them ideal for passenger vehicles with small wheel wells. The design of cable tire chains consists of lateral metal cords that cover the length of the circumference. Although the links are smaller and the cables are more spaced, users are guaranteed superior traction when braking on icy roads.

Moreover, these variations are more compact, making them easier to keep away when not in use. Plus, their lightweight construction means you can keep it in your boot for when you need them.

b). Tire Chain Material and Size

Nickel steel alloys, manganese and titanium, are popular materials used in manufacturing top-shelf metal chains. These elements make the product more robust, durable and ideal for larger vehicles and heavy-duty driving.

On the other hand, hardened steel in tire chains is excellent for the typical vehicle. However, using metal can damage your car and the roads you use despite their traction improving qualities. Consequently, some manufacturers create metal chain alternatives like snow socks and rubber chains to combat this issue. Although these options are ideal for vehicle and road maintenance, they may not suit extreme snow and ice driving conditions.

Always check the tire's wall for its size specifications when buying chains. After all, the product you get should fit well to experience the enhanced traction gains from these options.

Moreover, the chain's size determines the clearance. This aspect refers to the distance between your tire and the vehicle's body. Therefore, ensure the tire chain is not too thick to damage the car.

c). Pattern and Chain Links

Consider the dominant road and weather conditions where you drive when deciding on the correct pattern and link design. For example, if there is little snowfall and low humidity, more links in compact chain segments are recommended. Alternatively, larger and further-apart connections improve traction on deep heavy snow.

On the other hand, if the car has an anti-lock braking system, it is advisable to look for diagonal configurations or diamond layouts. Also, rectangular patterns work well on snowy and icy roads. Finally, if you want to go off-roading, the ladder design will give you the best grip.

d). Tensioning the Chain

Tensioning tire chains involves firmly securing them onto the wheels to allow them to grip the road without slipping. Traditionally, you needed to tighten the linked metal rings manually, and you can still find such products on the market. Unfortunately, these old types required plenty of time to fit the chain, and users needed to reach behind their tires to ensure a perfect fit.

Conversely, self-tensioning mechanisms are a new technology that uses evenly spaced ratchets to help it automatically hug the tire's sidewall. First, however, you need to secure it to the top part of the tire and move the vehicle to allow the chains to center along with the wheel. As a result, the installation will not have excess slack, which improves the performance of the snow chain tires. Still, installing is a two-step process, and you have to clamp or bolt the mechanism once it has gone around the tire.

On the plus side, modern technology allows you to save time when getting ready for snow and ice-filled roads. But, using a ratchet system introduces moving parts that are susceptible to damage when functioning.

e). Automatic Release Features

If you are driving over a long distance or through varying snow conditions, you need a way to quickly remove each tire chain without having to expose yourself to roadside dangers. Thus, consider automatic and quick release features that can save you time.

Crucially, ensure you pick a feature that will not go off without action from the user as it can cause problems when driving. Check whether the mechanism is hidden and allows you to fully and solely control the release.

f). Weight

The tire chain weight is a vital factor in fuel economy and ease of use. Lighter ones will not increase your car's gas consumption while being more convenient to put away, install and remove.

On the contrary, heavy metal chains can be a nightmare for your average mileage. In addition, they can be challenging to carry around and store away. Nevertheless, these options will last the longest and offer a more reliable grip. Plus, since you may not be driving through hundreds of miles with the chains on in one session, your fuel consumption may be negligible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Tire Chains

1. What is better than tire chains?

Tire cables are lighter than other tire chains since they lack the heavy metal chain links associated with the latter. Thus, you can install them with little hassle and are excellent for light use. Nevertheless, their durability and traction may not be on par with actual chains, even if they are made from the same steel material.

2. Do you need tire chains for all four tires?

It is essential to install tire chains on all four wheels of the vehicle. This step ensures you get the same traction across the wheels, making driving more predictable, especially when braking and steering.

3. Do chains ruin your tires?

Tire chains work best on roads covered with ice and snow as they are designed to push through such surfaces. However, if you drive on the bare road with them, the digging mechanism of the products will damage the road and your tires simultaneously. Consequently, it is better to buy easy-to-install and remove snow chains to ensure you do not ruin your tires.

Image Source: Unsplash.com

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