Winter every time catches us by surprise before and the snowfalls this year will again sow controversy throughout Spain. In previous years we have shown that neither the drivers nor the Administration are prepared for the powerful snowfall, and it is that sometimes we forget that adverse weather conditions, low temperatures and traveling by car are a fatal cocktail.
It is important to always be prepared for certain unforeseen events, especially if we plan to take an excursion to the mountains or cross troubled roads in times when we have been warned that we may find snow or ice. If in its day we already talked to you about the importance of wearing suitable tires, today is the turn of the chains, the ideal and necessary complement to increase tire grip.
Thanks to chains, whether textile or metal, we can shorten braking distances and improve the steering of our vehicle in those situations where there is snow and even ice on the road.
These are often necessary despite equipping winter tires on our vehicle, especially if we do not have a car with all-wheel drive. When choosing one or the other, you must know the characteristics of your car, that is, what are the dimensions and size of the tires; what are the dimensions of the tires -width, profile and measure- or what type of traction it has.
This last point is very important, since chains must be mounted on drive wheels of our car. If it is a 4 × 4, it depends on the type of traction, although it is advisable to mount them on all four wheels or, failing that, on the front. Of course, another determining factor is how much do you want to spend, so let’s see what types of chains we can find in the market and what are their advantages and disadvantages.
Types of snow chains
Currently, there are chains metal with steel links, the textile chains or textile covers for tires, compound strings or “network type”, and spider type chains or semi-automatic.
To all of them he also joins a type of strings in spray, but these are not standard chains, their effect is quite limited and they are not valid against the authorities, so they simply allow us to get out of a specific predicament. Of all these, the most frequent are the metal chains and the fabric chains, which are the ones we are going to focus on today and you are even going to show two videos in which it is explained in detail how to assemble each one of them.
Traditional metal chains
They are the most used by drivers and the easiest to find on the market, although today you already know that there is nothing that can resist the Internet. Basically, these chains, which are firmly held by tensioners located in the profile of the wheel, what they do is go around the tire tread to increase grip.
They are normally made up of interlocking steel links and they can be transversal or diamond-shaped, the latter being somewhat safer for offering greater grip.
- Durability, especially on asphalt.
- Behavior of the vehicle: they notably favor grip when cornering and braking.
- Lower price than textile chains.
- Ease of finding them in stores.
These types of chains are a good option if you are a regular on snowy roads. Ideally, you should try to mount them in the garage when you buy them, so you don’t get caught hazing in the snow.
- Their assembly is quite complex and, if you do not have much practice, it will take between 5 and 10 minutes to put them on, which is not pleasant in cold and humid conditions.
- You have to be very careful when mounting them to do it correctly, since in case of doing it wrong we run the risk that they come loose and cause some type of damage to our car, whether mechanical or sheet metal.
- Wearing metal chains is quite uncomfortable when driving, as they are noisy and the vibrations they transmit at the wheel are notorious.
- They make the tire and rim suffer to a greater extent as they are made of steel.
- They require more space to store them and suppose an extra weight compared to canvas ones.
You may have also heard of them as “sealskin”, since this type of chain is based on the adherence offered by the fabric to the wet surface of the pavement when we find snow and ice on it.
- They are very easy to put on, in just a minute you can have them mounted, since it is as if you were simply putting a cover on your tire.
- They take up very little storage space and don’t add great weight to the vehicle.
- They offer a much more relaxed ride than metal chains, do not transmit vibrations and do not damage the tire and rim.
- They do not affect so much the operation of the different active safety systems of our vehicle, such as stability control, traction or ABS since they are thinner and lighter.
- They are easy to wash and dry, so they require less maintenance than metal chains.
This type of chain is a good option for users who circulate in snowy areas only occasionally and have little practice in assembling this type of system.
- They are somewhat more expensive than metal chains and their useful life is much shorter, as is the case with spider-type chains.
- They provide less grip and greater stopping distance than metal chains, although the difference is not excessively exaggerated in normal adverse weather conditions.
- They are harder to find.
Several years ago, Michelin released some chains called Easy Grip which may be a good option for you if you just go on a snowy getaway from time to time. This new generation of snow chains are quite easy to assemble and are made up of more than 150 metal links, being especially recommended for vehicles with little space between the tire and the wheel arch.
The most curious thing is that incorporate a reflective system to improve the visibility of the vehicle when driving at night, but you should know that they are not especially cheap either (it all depends, of course, on where you buy them, for example at Amazon you have around € 60).
If you want to keep your snow chains in good condition, it is recommended that after use wash them with hot water and dry them before storing in a cool, dry place. At this point, you have to take into account that metal chains rust over time, so it does not hurt to add some oil to them with fingers after washing and drying.
On the other hand, you must be aware that with the chains on you must ride at lower speeds than you would normally, because in most cases, chain manufacturers do not recommend exceeding 50 km / h. Likewise, try avoid sudden braking or turning.