Snow Chains Vs. Cablesby Jen Philion
Tire chains and cables might not be familiar to everyone in the United States, but they are a common part of driving in areas that experience a lot of snow and ice. Some state highway officials can require snow tires or chains/cables on vehicles on icy or snowy highways.
Chains have been the traditional ice- and snow-gripping solution for vehicles for decades. Originally available only in "ladder" designs that wrapped around tires, they have evolved into crisscrosses and other patterns.
Snow cables are an update of snow chains. According to Vulcan Tires, cable chains use a high-strength steel aircraft cable surrounded by alloy steel traction coils and offer better traction and a smoother ride for passenger cars and trucks than traditional chains.
As the newer and lighter traction invention, snow cables are generally easier to install. Cables can come with rubber tighteners that make keeping them properly tightened less of an effort than with chains.
While snow cables have become popular with passenger cars and trucks, snow chains are still recognized as having superior traction and durability for heavy vehicles like trucks, buses and construction equipment.
You will often find both snow chains and cables referred to and marketed as "snow chains."
Whether you decide on snow chains or cables, be sure to purchase the right size for your vehicle. It is also a good idea to practice installing the chains or cables on your tires after you buy them--a cold, icy highway is not the ideal place to try to put them on for the first time.
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images