How to Install & Remove Snow Chains
This is a how-to lesson that most people will never have to put into use, but for those of you who reside in chillier climates, it may prove to be a necessary evil. Daunting as it may sound, installing and removing snow chains is a fairly speedy process, albeit one that must usually be accomplished in the freezing cold. With 15-30 minutes to spare and expert advice from The Expert (who else?), you'll be on your way to safe and secure winter driving in no time.
What You Will Need
- A set of snow chains (the appropriate size for your tires)
- A pair of work gloves
Step 1 - Prepare Your VehicleIdeally, you will be installing or removing the chains in your driveway or some equally safe spot. However, should you need to attach or remove your chains while on the road, be sure to find a safe and level stretch on the side of the road or highway. Whatever the location, be certain to give yourself at least 10 feet of clearance in front of and behind your vehicle to allow you the space to move onto the chains. Also be certain to set your parking brake - before putting your hands anywhere near the tires - to guard against any accidental slippage. Bracing the tires with wooden blocks isn't a bad idea as an added precaution. Last but not least, clear any excess snow away from the tires.
Step 2 - Set Out the ChainsFirst, determine whether your vehicle is front- or rear-wheel drive, since the chains must be hooked up to the set of tires doing the bulk of the work. Once you know to which set of tires you want to apply the chains, clear away as much snow as possible from around the tires to create a level surface. Lay the chains out underneath the car, placing the first rung of the each chain against the tire where it comes into contact with ground. Be certain that the studded side of the chain faces the ground - this is the part of the chain that provides the most traction.
Step 3 - Drive Up (or Down!) Onto the ChainsIf you are placing the tires on a rear-wheel drive vehicle, you will have to back up over the chains. With front-wheel drive vehicles, you will have to drive forward onto them. Check to make sure that each tire is set directly over the chains, each with a strand overlapping both sides. Then get in your vehicle, start up your engine and drive (slowly, mind you) up (or back) onto the chains for a distance of about 2 feet.
Step 4 - Fasten the ChainsOnce your tires are squarely placed on the chains, pull the overlapping ends over the top of the tire. Each end should have a closing mechanism that will fit through a link on the chain. Give yourself 1 inch to 2 inches of slack, then fasten each closing mechanism through a link on the opposite side of the chain.
Step 5 - Secure the ChainsThe rubber loops that came with the chains should each have 4 metal hooks evenly distributed along its circumference. On the hubcap side of the tire, attach each metal hook to a diagonal point on the tire in a crisscross pattern. This will ensure that your chains won't slip.
Step 7 - Start Driving!That's it! The snow chains should be properly secure now, providing traction for you on snowy roads. However, don't think your chains are insurance against going too fast under poor driving conditions. Start out slowly, paying attention to any banging or knocking sounds that might indicate loose or poorly positioned tires [QUERY: chains?]. Regardless of how secure they are applied, however, it is unwise to drive over 40 mph with snow chains affixed to your tires.
Step 8 - Remove the ChainsThe bad weather can't last forever, so when the snow begins to go, it's time for your snow chains to go with it. Do not - under any circumstances - drive with snow chains on bare pavement; it can seriously damage your tires.
Removing the chains is even more simple than applying them. Simply follow the steps in reverse, wipe the chains down, and store them in a dry place until next winter!