Winter takes us by surprise every time before and it is time to talk about the snow chains. In previous years we have shown that neither the drivers nor the Administration are prepared for heavy snowfalls. Sometimes we forget that bad weather, low temperatures and car trips 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 with snow or ice. In his 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 the grip of the tire.
Thanks to chains, whether textile or metal, we can shorten braking distances. They also help to improve the steering of our vehicle in those situations where there is snow or ice on the road.
Many times these are 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. Chains must be mounted on the 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 wheels. Of course, another determining factor is how much do you want to spend. We are going to 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 several types of snow chains:
- Chains metallic with steel links.
- Textile covers for tires or chains textiles.
- Chains compound or “network type”.
- Chains of spider type or semi-automatic.
To all of them he also joins a type of strings in spray. 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. Among all of them, the most frequent are metal chains and fabric chains. They are the ones we are going to focus on today.
The General Vehicle Regulation in Royal Decree 2822/1998 of December 23, equates winter tires with chains. Pray that “When the use of chains or other authorized anti-slip devices is mandatory or recommended, at least these chains or anti-slip devices must be placed on the axle of the drive wheels or use special tires.«.
Traditional metal chains
They are the most used by drivers and the easiest to find on the market. These chains, which are firmly held by tensioners located in the profile of the wheel, what they do is surround the tire tread to increase grip.
They are normally made up of interlocking steel links. They can be transverse 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 mounting them in the garage when you buy them. It is preferable that you do not get hazing in the middle of the snow.
- Its assembly is quite complex. If you don’t have a lot of practice, it will take 5-10 minutes to put them on. This is not pleasant in cold and humid conditions.
- You have to be very careful when mounting them to do it correctly. In case of doing it wrong, we run the risk of them coming loose and causing some kind of damage to our car, be it mechanical or sheet metal.
- Wearing metal chains is quite uncomfortable when driving. They are noisy and the vibrations they transmit behind the wheel are noticeable.
- 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 they suppose an extra weight in front of the canvas ones.
Textile snow chains
You may have also heard of them as “sealskin”. This type of chain is based on the adherence that the fabric offers to the wet surface of the pavement when we find snow and ice on it.
- They are very easy to put on. In just one minute you can have them assembled. It’s like you just put a cover on your tire.
- They take up very little storage space and do not add great weight to the vehicle.
- They offer a much more relaxed ride than metal chains. They 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 through snowy areas only occasionally and have little practice in assembling this type of system.
- They are somewhat more expensive than metal chains. In addition, their service life is much shorter, as is the case with spider-type chains.
- They provide less grip and greater braking distance than metal chains. It must be said that the difference is not exaggerated under normal adverse weather conditions.
- They are harder to find.
Hybrid snow chains
Several years ago, Michelin released some chains called Easy Grip. They may be a good option for you if you just make sporadic getaways to the snow. This new generation of snow chains are quite easy to assemble and are made up of more than 150 metal links. They are 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 vehicle visibility when driving at night. Of course, you should know that they are not especially cheap either. It all depends, of course, from where you buy them. For example, on Amazon you have them from approximately € 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 them 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 put some oil on them with your fingers after washing and drying them.
On the other hand, you must be aware that with the chains on you must ride at lower speeds than you normally would, because in most cases, chain manufacturers do not recommend exceeding 50 km / h. Likewise, try to avoid sudden braking or cornering.