An Introduction to Snow Chains
Snow chains/snowchains are compulsory on most Alpine roads, even for 4x4 vehicles. Increasing numbers of people also carry a set for UK use, for snow or for grass, e.g. to give essential grip in green field car parks during the British summer.
We are snow chain specialists, and distribute many of Europe’s best known brands, covering the whole range of snow chain sectors and aiming to have a snowchain for every available wheel size.
Please be sure to take your tyre size from the tyre itself, not from the handbook. You are usually looking for three numbers, e.g. 225/45-R17, written on the wall of the tyre. See Frequently Asked Questions for information on what these numbers mean.
The Starting Point
The starting point is to tell you that "conventional snowchains" (RUD, KWB), which wrap chain around the whole tyre, are not suitable for increasing numbers of vehicles, usually because they'd be too close to struts or brake pipes, or because there’s electronic sensing equipment which can't cope with finding metal where there's normally only rubber. You must therefore visit our snow chains/ snowchains database if you want to buy conventional snowchains from us, and choose first your car, then your tyre size, and in many cases also your engine size. Some manufacturers don’t take this prudent view, so you’ll almost certainly be able to buy a set of chains “off the shelf” which will fit around your wheels. Our advice is to check your car handbook very carefully, because if there is a “No fit” for conventional snowchains there could be real danger and expense in fitting the chains and driving the car.
All the "other snowchain systems" we sell, (AutoSock, Farad SNOW, Maggi TRAK and Spikes-Spider) can be used on every vehicle, subject to finding a set of the appropriate size, even if the use of conventional snow chains is forbidden.
To see a spreadsheet of which of these systems fit each tyre size, i.e. to get an appreciation of relative transferability and all round value, please click here. There are no links to the Farad, Spikes-Spider and TRAK systems because these also require you to have wheel nut adapters of the correct size for your car; you'll find all the information you need on the snow chains/ snowchains database.
All the snow chains/snowchains are are sold in pairs, and need to be fitted to the driving wheels. Some people also fit them to the non driving wheels, which certainly improves all round stability, but is definitely not necessary. 4 x 4 drivers should fit snowchains to the front wheels unless we tell you which wheels to use – please check the snow chains database for fitting notes.
As a rule of thumb, traction control and anti-skid systems should be turned off when using tyre traction devices, except for AutoSock and Spikes-Spider systems. If you can’t easily turn off these systems, then it’s probably OK. Check your handbook!
We show all the available options, together with prices and special offers, on our snow chains database. This contains well over 100,000 links, and we work very hard to keep it as up to date as we can. Please though (1) check your handbook and (2) fit the snowchains we supply ASAP after receiving them, just to check that they fit, and also to learn how to fit them.
We’ll exchange unused snowchains if they are still in our current range at the time the exchange is arranged. Click here for details.
RUD and KWB:> These are much quicker to fit than you might think, but some are easier to fit than others! All snowchains sold in the UK, except for the RUD automatic snowchains, are fitted by pushing a cable behind the wheel, lifting the two ends up the face of the wheel until they're well over the widest point, then joining them together and pushing them over the top of the tyre. This is easy enough if there's plenty of space between the wheel and the wheel arch, but unless you’re a contortionist you’ll almost certainly need to kneel on the ground (which means snow, slush, dirt) to push the cable behind the wheel at ground level. Self tensioning snowchains spare you the effort of getting out of the car after a few hundred metres to retighten the snowchain, but they don’t spare your trousers! So check out RUD’s automatic snowchains if you’re fussed about this. Some models are also better at protecting alloy wheels than others.
Maggi TRAK: These also place a ladder of chain and ice spikes around the face of the tyre, and are fitted from a crouching position. They’re fastened to one of the wheel bolts – no special adapter is necessary - and wind themselves onto the wheel when it starts to move.
We also stock the best products in the Thule snowchains range, shown on our site thule-snowchains.net - they have some excellent chains for cars, SUVs and 4x4s.
The Thule CB-12 chains (Car, "Basic", 12mm on the wheel) do all that is necessary, and do it very well. There's then quite a jump in price to the Thule CG-9 snowchains ("Good") which incorporate Thule's 'micro tensioning system', their neat solution to automatic tensioning which means that you don't have to stop to re-tension the chains once they have "shaken themselves out" and found their optimum position on the tyre. Check out our favourite, the Thule CL-10 chains ("Luxury") which have perpendicular chain links to provide better lateral stability, as well as the micro-tensioning. The Thule CS-10 chains ("Superior") add a quick removal system to the other enhancements already mentioned. The Thule K-Summit range is ideal for vehicles with limited clearance between the top of the wheel and the wheel arch, which includes many rear wheel drives.
The 4x4 range includes the Thule XB-16 (X for eXtra strong as in 4x4), Thule XG-12, the Thule XS-16, and the Thule K-Summit XL; vehicles over 2 tonnes need the K-Summit XXL.
These are certainly both the fastest and the easiest fitting of all snowchains available, excluding the time taken to fit the special hub mounting plates. (Some people leave these plates in place all year, others fit them at the first sign of snow.) Spikes-Spiders place chain and/or ice spikes around the face of the tyre. They don’t in fact grip the tyre all round, but only the part that’s in contact, or just about to be in contact, with the road; they’re otherwise free to move within the circular mounting plate, and as such will absorb the frequent changes in tyre shape. The chains also lift off the top of the wheel as they come around, and so help to shake out compacting snow. They’re technically very advanced, Swiss made, and provide full protection for alloy wheels. They're not cheap to buy, but over a period of years the SPORT and CARRIER models in particular should prove to be the best value of all snowchains. They're easily resized, i.e. you can buy new parts to make them fit just about any size of tyre available. All Spikes-Spiders can be used with traction control and anti-skid systems.
These are super-strong textile socks, designed and developed in Norway over many years, which use friction to provide extraordinary levels of grip on ice and snow. They’re reusable, take up minimal storage space, and you just slip them over the driving wheels. Strange but true, and ideal for UK use where snow tends to fall unpredictably and few cars have winter tyres. Please note that they’re not approved for use in the Alps where snow chains/ snowchains are required, whatever you might read elsewhere. These snow chain regulations require the use of “metal” components, and even though AutoSock makes use of Kevlar (stronger than steel) they won't be permitted until the regulations are changed. There’s sense in having a set of AutoSock whether or not you also have a set of metal component snowchains, because they are so convenient and easy to use, and so effective.
Worried about your alloy wheels being scratched by snowchains? The RUD ProtectAR is a cheap solution, consisting of plastic guards which will hold the steel away from your alloys. There are 16 guards per set, i.e. 8 per wheel. They're suitable for use on any brand of snowchain, not just RUD snowchains.
Shoe snow chains
Shoe snow chains are a simple yet obvious solution to the problem of 'how to stay on your feet on ice and snow'. These VERIGA and RUD shoe chains can make a massive difference between slipping and walking!
For instance the RUD 'Bergsteiger' shown is standard issue to most European post offices, including our own Royal Mail!
Children's Skiweb Ski and Pole carrier
Designed to help children carry their own equipment.
Suitable for skis up to 140 length, approx. age 10. The same award winning design as the shoulder carrier, but slightly smaller. Ideal for families, enabling parents to carry multiple sets of skis and poles. 2 Designs: Lion and Snowflake.
Skiweb 'Boardweb' Snowboard carrier
The Boardweb brings the simplistic and easy-to-use design of the Skiweb to snowboards. Wrap around the snowboard and strap across the back or over the shoulder to hike to the perfect powder. Totally safe to carry while on the slopes. No buckles or adjustments.
Pack one of these collapsible Ortovox snow shovels into one of the rear pockets of your car, and you'll need never to be caught out again by the sudden arrival of winter, whether you are off for a winter holiday or just commuting on the M62! The blade is made from an unbreakable polycarbon. Only weighs 45 grams.
Click on the magnifying glass logo, wherever you see it, to find out which products have been specifically approved for use with your vehicle.
Click on these links to jump to...
Snow chains overview
Frequently asked questions
3 things to think about before buying snow chains
Product Finder: Snowchains
Snow chains database
Winter Driving accessories
We’ll exchange unused snow chains if they are still in our current range at the time the exchange is arranged, and you purchased them from us; please phone (015396 21884) or e-mail with the subject “Snow chains exchange” so we know to expect them. (There’s no problem if you want to exchange for more expensive snow chains – you will in effect just be paying the price difference - but we don’t give refunds if you trade down market.)
You need to send the snowchains back to us with a covering note - not forgetting your name and address! “Unused” means just that. We can tell the difference at a glance between a set of snowchains that have been fitted once for testing purposes and a set which has been used for real. There's always a minimum £15 carriage / handling charge for exchange snow chains. (We'll need to charge more if you don't live on the UK mainland.)
Please note that we do not exchange AutoSock.
You need two hands to fit snowchains or AutoSock. If you've never used a headtorch before you'll be amazed at what a difference they make. Some people think they'll look silly with one of these - but it will be dark, nobody will notice. Petzl is the head torch brand, much copied, never bettered.
We have snow chains,snowchains
and accessories for the following manufacturers
Alfa Romeo snow chains,snowchains
Audi snow chains,snowchains
BMW snow chains,snowchains
Ford snow chains,snowchains
Lexus snow chains,snowchains
Mercedes snow chains,snowchains
Mini snow chains,snowchains
Mitsubishi snow chains,snowchains
Nissan snow chains,snowchains
Opel snow chains,snowchains
Peugeot snow chains,snowchains
Renault snow chains,snowchains
Saab snow chains,snowchains
Seat snow chains/snowchains
Subaru snow chains/snowchains
Toyota snow chains,snowchains
Vauxhall snow chains,snowchains
Volkswagen snow chains/snowchains
Volvo snow chains,snowchains
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