Do I Have to Use Snow Chains If I Have a 4WD?

by Jerry Garner

Four-wheel drive vehicles (4WD) are a great means of transportation for those who like to venture off the beaten path and explore the back roads. Because drive traction can be delivered to all four tires simultaneously, 4WD vehicles are well suited to all weather conditions and can generally explore areas that ordinary vehicles cannot. People who live in colder, northern climates can use their 4WD for winter recreation in snowy and icy conditions. This often brings up the question of snow chains and whether are needed on a 4WD vehicle.

Consider Snow Depth

Four-wheel drive vehicles have advanced traction and generally have no difficulty driving through snow at depths that challenge other vehicles. However, everything has limitations, and 4WD vehicles are no different. Although it may not be a requirement, using snow chains in excessively deep snow conditions does not hurt. However, roads are normally either cleared or closed long before the snow is deep enough to impair a 4WD.

Determine if the Road is Icy

Because driving power is distributed to all four wheels in a 4WD vehicle, these vehicles have better traction on icy surfaces than normal cars do. This does not mean that it is impossible for them to slide on the ice, although 4WD vehicles typically retain better control even during a slide. If there is a large amount of ice on the road, consider using snow chains just to cut into the ice and provide better gripping capability. Doing this could improve your handling and shorten your stopping distance in icy conditions.

Keep a Set, Just in Case

Many people prefer to carry a set of snow chains with them, even if they do not normally use them. Winter storms can blow in with little or no warning, and you never know when a simple afternoon out will turn into weather conditions that challenge even the most powerful 4WD. If you only have a single set of chains and must choose which tires receive them, put them on the front tires, because the front tires both steer and provide drive.

About the Author

Jerry Garner has been writing semi-professionally for more than 15 years. The body of Garner's work includes informative articles, news and current events and historical essays. He is an avid sports fan and frequently writes about outdoor activities online.

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