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How Does Snow Chains Affect Ride Quality?

by Nellie Day

The Feel

One of the biggest complaints drivers have about driving with snow chains on their tires is how noisy the chains can be. When chains make contact with the pavement, they can produce a clunky sound that repeats constantly. This noise may weaken if the ground is made of a softer material, such as dirt or grass with only a light to moderate snowfall. It may also be lessened if ice or excessive snow appear on the road. Although these elements may act as extra buffers against the noise the chains produce, it is less than ideal to drive in areas with excessive snow or ice. These road conditions should be avoided if at all possible.

The Noise

Again, the firmer the road is, the bumpier the ride is likely to be, as the chains continually rotate over the hardened road. If there is ample snowfall, the bumpiness may be lessened, but for the most part the drive will be somewhat bumpy. One way to make this drive less bumpy is to drive slower, which is recommended when you are driving in inclement weather. Driving slowly ensures that your chains and tires grip the road as best they can, while preventing your car from losing control at higher speeds. Drivers should keep their speeds under 30 mph while driving through snow or ice. Keep a longer distance between you and the vehicle in front of you as well, to account for longer stopping times. Though it may be tempting, you should never use cruise control when driving in ice or snow, or with snow chains.

Getting Used to the Ride Quality

DMV.org recommends that a driver conduct a test-run of the tire chains before driving in snow or ice for the first time. To do this, pick an empty parking lot where you can apply the tires. Once they have been properly installed, drive for approximately 50 to 100 feet, after which you should check to see whether you need to tighten your chains. Once they are tightened, drive around the parking lot once or twice to get a feel for what it's like to drive with the chains on. Practice stopping, slowing and turning. This will minimize your surprise and discomfort once you are forced to drive with in the snow with chains on. You should repeat this process every time you purchase new chains or a new car.

About the Author

Nellie Day is a freelance writer based out of Hermosa Beach, Calif. Her work can regularly be seen on newsstands, where her specialties include weddings, real estate, food and wine, pets, electronics, architecture and design, business and travel. Day earned a master's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California.

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