Three things to think about before buying snow chains
The starting point. There are three things to do / to think about:
1. Tyre size and wheel arch space: Check and write down the tyre size of your driving wheels. At the same time you should decide whether you can easily push both your forearms into the space between the top of the tyre and the wheel arch - if you can't then your choice of chains will be much reduced and only the following types of chain (from any manufacturer, from any web site) will be suitable:
- Maggi TRAK
- RUD-comfort Centrax
- Spikes-Spider (all models)
- Thule K-Summit
We specialise in snow chains and stock all these types. There are other limited clearance chains on the market, e.g. the Thule CK-7, but if you can't get your hands behind the wheel to uncouple them you'd be wasting your time in buying them.
2. Check your handbook: What does your vehicle handbook say about fitting snow chains? A surprising number of vehicles have a "No fit" for what we call "traditional chains", the ones that place chain on both sides of the tyre. In most cases you should still be able to use one of the "ladder track chains" - which only put chain on the top of the tyre.
We list snowchain options both "by vehicle make and model" and "by tyre size only". The vehicle database is intended only as a guide to point you in the right direction, and is no substitute for doing a double check with your vehicle handbook. There are so many new vehicles and tyre size options that it can never be completely up to date, but a bigger problem is that suppliers sometimes notify us of changes to their earlier listings - there could be mistakes.
If you go through the "by tyre size only" database you will see all the available chains that will fit around your tyres, but they may not be suitable for use on your particular vehicle.
In summary, if you buy chains from us we will always assume that you have checked your handbook!
3. Comfort: Chains need to be tightened again once they have found their optimum position on the wheel, so you need to stop again. Self-tensioning chains do this work themselves, but they cost more.
Fitting all traditional chains may require you to kneel on the ground and move away the snow behind the driving wheels. If you want to avoid this, then you'll need "Rud-matic chains" or "ladder track chains".
Speed of fitting is important, especially if you'll have to fit and remove snowchains more than once in a journey. Of the ladder track chains, the RUD-comfort Centrax uses a pre-installed mounting and is therefore quicker than the Maggi TRAK and the Thule K-Summit, but all of these are slower than the Spikes-Spiders - which are clipped on to pre-installed hub plates
All chains except Spikes-Spiders are made of alloy steels and, once any initial zinc coating has been worn off, will rust if left wet or damp. Customers often assume that "alloy" means stainless - it doesn't. The exception is the Swiss Spikes-Spider SPORT system - it uses Nirosta steel, a very hard stainless steel developed for constant use in salt water.
The ladder track chains do not get tangled up - getting traditional chains ready for fitting often takes as long as fitting them.
- Once untangled, modern snowchains are quick and easy to fit, but knowledge is required and practice advised before attempting this for real. We have some videos to show you how.
- Should you buy snow chains or AutoSock snow socks? The answer is both, if you have the spare cash and the chains are within your budget. The reason is that each does a different job. If driving on slush, new snow, and occasional short stretches of tarmac, AutoSock are in their element. Using chains on tarmac is so noisy and bumpy that it's hard work to do so, so you'll be anxious to pull over and remove them if it's safe to do so. But if driving on hard, compacted snow, perhaps with ruts and ridges, then snow chains will be the better bet, because the AutoSock will be very vulnerable to damage.
- If you are fitting snow chains in the dark you are likely to struggle without a head torch - fitting chains is always a two handed job. We list head torches on every snow chain page.