How to Install Semi Truck Tire Chains

by Steven W. EasleyUpdated July 21, 2017
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Commercial truck driving during adverse weather conditions can be very challenging and stressful, especially during the winter months and at higher elevations. States in the West and Northwest regions require commercial motor vehicles to carry tire chains during specific periods during the winter. Drivers who drive through these states should be familiar with the tire chain installation procedure on the semi trucks.

Items you will need

  • Semi truck

  • Tire chains

  • T-Cam tool

  • Rubber tarp straps

Park in a safe location off the main highway and out of the flow of traffic. Try to always use a designated chain installation area that is well lit and located on firm pavement.

Remove the chains from the storage box and lay them on the ground, next to each of the tires that require chains. Doubles should be installed on the drive tandems.

Inspect the chains for any broken cross chains or twisted links. Also inspect the cams for damage--make sure they are not twisted or bent.

Lift the chains and drape them over the top of the tire. Straighten them so that they hang down evenly.

Pull the truck forward about two feet to allow the tire to drive across the chains to a point where you can attach them.

Fasten the inside hook to the loose chain. Tighten it as much as possible, pulling any excess slack toward the outside of the tire. Proceed to attach the outside chain.

Secure the cams with the T-Cam tool. This is done by turning the cam with the tool placed in the square opening. The cam has a groove that is rounded on the end. The tire chain will fit into this locking groove.

Attach rubber tarp straps across the tire chains. Be careful not to attach the hooks with the sharp edge facing the sidewall of the tire. Also insure that the hooks are not secured into any of the links connected directly to the cross chains.

Pull the truck forward approximately ¼ mile and re-inspect the installation. Tighten any loose chains and adjust the tarp straps, if necessary.


Drive slowly to reduce the chance of loosing the tire chains as you travel. Check the chains about every 10 to 15 miles to insure they are secure. Listen for the sound of metal striking against metal as you travel, and stop and inspect the chains immediately if you do.


Tire chains are only intended to add traction to your vehicle during adverse driving conditions.

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