How to fit snow chains   December 8th, 2011

Snow chains are an essential item to carry in the car if you are driving to the Alps for a ski holiday, and the last fe winters in the UK have even made them a wise choice to carry at times there too.

Snow chains are fairly simple to fit if you know what you’re doing, but if the first time you open the box is in the middle of a snow storm in the dark then it could easily turn into an epic struggle.

Here is quick guide to fitting snow chains to your car, the first 3 steps should be completed BEFORE you even set off on your journey.

  1. Check the chains are the correct size for your tyres. Incorrect sized chains cause big problems, too small will be impossible to fit or too large will not tightened up
  2. TRY FITTING THEM AT HOME. If you spend a short while understanding how they work in the warmth / daylight / comfort outside your home I guarantee it will all be a lot easier when you try on the roadside up a mountain in the cold / dark / snowstorm
  3. Carrying a pair of gloves / torch / small shovel can make the whole experience a lot more pleasant too. In France it is a legal requirement to carry a warning triangle and hi-vis vest, both should be used if you are working at the side of the road
Now for actually fitting them at the roadside
  1. PUT THEM ON BEFORE YOU GET STUCK. Choosing a good place to stop, out of the traffic, maybe sheltered from the elements and with some lighting is a good starting point. Whereas sliding off the road into a snow bank or ditch is a really bad start, you’ll struggle to get access to the wheel before you even try and put the chains on
  2. For front wheel drive cars the chains go in the front, for rear wheel drive they go on the rear
  3. Take the chains out of the box, lay them out on the floor and CAREFULLY check there are no twists in the chains, if the chains have been looped over the main ring they will have a kink and be more difficult to fit
  4. Slide the chains around behind the wheel and connect the two ends of the ring together at the TOP
  5. Pull the loose chains around the edges of the wheel and use the connecting ring to fasten the chains together at the top of the wheel
  6. Now pass the long tensioning chain through the tensioning link at the bottom and pull tight, then past the chain through the clip and fasten the end of the chain to the appropriate link on the wheel. Keeping the chain as tight as possible
  7. Once both chains are fitting it is important to drive for 100 metres and then stop. Get out the car and tension the chain again. The short drive will have spread the chains evenly and will allow extra slack to be pulled through
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