How to Choose Tire Chains

by Jenny Harrington

If you live in an area that receives a lot of snowfall or ice storms, tire chains are an important part of your winter driving arsenal. There are many choices on the market, ranging from traditional tire chains to cables and fabric boots for your car. Deciding on the one that is best for your driving habits and local road conditions can be overwhelming. The key is to understand what your personal needs are and understanding how each option performs in relation to those needs.

Step 1

Check into your local laws first. Some states do not allow tire chains, while others allow them only in certain regions or during certain months. If your area does not allow tire chains, then do not purchase them unless you spend time driving in an area that does.

Step 2

Be aware of how often you drive in snowy or icy conditions. If you need chains only for small errands, or if you drive only a couple of times a week, then diamond or ladder chains may be best. Ladder chains cause some vibration when driving and so are not suited to long trips. If you drive a lot or for long distances, cables last longer than traditional chains.

Step 3

Check to see if your car has traction control or antilock brakes. If it does, then zigzag-style chains are made to work best with these systems. They offer superior traction that works with your car's traction control system.

Step 4

Keep in mind how often you have to remove the chains and put them back on. If you do not have help or will need to remove them often, look for a design that is quick and easy to put on the car by yourself. Most chains require you to drive over them to align them over the tire, then get out and fasten them. For some chains it is easier to put them on with help from someone else. If you drive only short distances and must place the chains on the tire yourself, look into fabric tire covers made for snow driving. These take only a few minutes to put on and take off the tire and are easy to do on your own.

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