At some stage in the course of your driving life, it may become necessary for you to fit snow chains. Indeed, in some parts of Europe snow chain use is compulsory.
Wherever you intend to drive, whether it be here in the UK or further afield, you can only use chains if the road surface allows it – in other words, when there is snow or ice on the ground. In addition to that, there has to be sufficient space between the wheel and its arch. If you have a 4×4 you should be fine, but always check with your dealer, preferably a specialised one like Saxton 4×4, first.
Will the chains even fit?
Adding snow chains is always going to increase tyre dimensions. This can sometimes mean that chain come into contact with more than just your tyre. This can very serious repercussions, so before you do anything make sure you check with your dealer or your vehicle handbook first.
Have a second set of wheels on hand if you know you will need chains
If you know that chains are going to be needed, but you know they will not fit your tyres, then your only other option is to buy a second set. Check your handbook, and make sure you know which tyres and wheels you are going to need.
At this stage, if this is the road you have to go down, it makes sense to buy winter tyres. These, also, are mandatory in some European countries so be prepared if you’re driving abroad. Now you are certain that you have tyres that you can actually use, you can probably relax a little.
When are you meant to use chains?
As already mentioned, if the road surface does not have snow or ice compacted layers then chains are not an option. You don’t only risk damaging the road, but you could end up damaging your car two and be faced with two bills to pay.
Of course, here in the UK there is a gritting policy in place – so if you do fit chains here, be prepared to take them off and on again several times in a single journey.
Don’t get left out in the cold
These things do take a little practice, so try to get some in before you set off with chains in the boot. It’s no secret that snow chains can be very awkward to fit, especially if you haven’t done it before.
When the weather is a little warmer, make use of the time between snow drives by practicing fitting your chains. If you ever need to put your chains on part way through a journey, you will be eternally grateful that you practiced at home first.
How to drive with chains
Traction control should be turned off, as a rule, when driving with chains but check your handbook – it may be possible to drive with it still on. Keep in mind, that regardless of chains, you are still driving in potentially hazardous conditions so keep your speed down.
With a bit of luck you should be much more comfortable around snow chains, and don’t forget to practice!