Investing in some good set of snow chains is very important if you are planning to visit or frequently drive in an area that experiences heavy rainfall and icy conditions. This tool, which may seem basic, is something that really helps increase the traction of your tire even in the poor road conditions, making your drive much safer during winters.
Just like any other product, there are many types of snow chains in the market but of course, not all are made alike. All are better suited to different conditions, while others are good for a certain type of vehicle, while some being very frank, are just better than others.
In order to help you drive safe, we have brought the best tire snow chains for you in the market. This product guide begins with a list of ten stellar products, followed by a buying guide and finally the FAQs that shall help you understand snow chains and choose the most appropriate one for yourself and then use them properly.
Best Tire Chains for Snow in 2020:
We like to give you stuff that keeps you on your toes, and so before the first product, we’ll hit you with something different this time. This snow chain is not exactly a snow chain in reality. Instead, it is somewhat a metal cable design.
This unique design with its construction is not just the last thing we’ll be talking about here. In fact, it's just the beginning of this amazing product. The first notable feature is the very versatile chain – one thing you’ll notice in many products to come is that a lot of the chains are specific to a particular type of vehicle only. This, however, doesn’t apply to this product as the cable style design provides incredibly low clearance that makes it highly suitable for a lot of vehicles.
Moreover, it is also designed to be very easy to fit without the need to move the vehicle during installation. There’s also a level of compatibility compared to many other chain types, thanks to the antilock brake system sensors. You don’t have to worry about any compromise on the grip either, as the cable of this chain is particularly designed to give much improved all-round traction compared to conventional chains. This is a very well designed snow chain, that too within a certain price range.
- Low Clearance provided by cable construction
- Simple, quick Installation
- Built-in Rubber Tightening Device
- Outstanding All Round Traction Performance
- BrandSecurity Chain
- Weight1 lb
This German manufacturer’s product is the second one on our list. The chains are designed particularly with the SUV styled vehicles and are at the market’s premium end, being just a little under $300, easily becoming one of the most expensive ones on the list. However, the price does get justified by the high-quality features among which the most prominent one happens to be the built-in self-tensioning system, which is also a patented feature of the company.
Installation becomes very simple, with the effective pressure regulation of tire chain between the links, giving optimum performance. Practically, this means that the chain is there and once the job is done, no-fly adjustments are needed as they are on some less premium, cheaper models. Another great feature is the nylon bumpers, that can be seen through the small red balls on the chains. The purpose of these is to keep the chain’s abrasive metal surface away from the alloy wheels, preventing any damage.
Finally, these chains give a very unique pattern with some welded double traction plated which are designed to provide extra grip and remarkable performance in snow. The snow chains are priced on the high end, but the features speak why all that money is demanded it!
- Particularly for SUV’s
- Quick Fitting Design
- Low 12mm Clearance
- Anti-Scratch Nylon Bumpers
- Weight14 lbs
So this one from Sanku is another eye-catching and very different design. Apart from being just yellow, the chains are of a very interesting design that is very different from a regular snow chain in almost every way possible.
Here, we essentially have a set of eight pads which strap in a single tire going through the wheel. There isn’t any need to move the vehicle with this one, making them very easy to get on. You just have to strap them and you’re good to go. Furthermore, this makes them quite a universally sized product, that can be used on different sized tires, easily.
Traditional chains are not the one providing traction, instead, the anti-slip studs, also called nails are the ones that extend them from each pad and aid in digging in the ice and snow. These are somewhat strange design features as compared to a lot of products on the list. Easy to install, low weight, small size and exceptionally low price – these are all that makes it a good chain to have in your car’s trunk for any emergency or occasional use.
- Anti-Skid studs
- Anti-Wear technology
- Easy to Install
- ModelSanku Tire Chains 2002
- Weight5.45 lbs
The TerraKing’s TerraGrips are pretty terrific – at least when it comes to their size. They aren’t designed for use on regular passenger vehicles, rather they are for vehicles like lawn tractors. So, if you are in search of some chains to be used on a regular car, then you may just move to the next item on the list. However, if you are looking for something extra, and agricultural, then this one will catch your eye.
The very first feature that is quite noticeable on this one is that the product isn’t a regular chain design at all. It boasts a chain to its edges, but it is just to hold the product altogether. The actual traction is made by the tough, rubber slats that sit on the surface of the tire and provide enough traction to make them useful enough on a variety of surfaces like mud, snow, gravel and much more. Simultaneously, their rubber construction makes them pretty soft to be used on various road surfaces without the fear of any damage this product isn’t for all, but whoever is looking for a chain for a tractor or similar vehicle, then this one can be a great choice.
- Improves Traction various Conditions
- Road Surfaces protected by Rubber Slats
- Durable and Long Lasing
- Rust Resistant Steel
- Weight10.25 lbs
This is the second product from Security chain on our list, which is pretty different from the snow chains we checked out from this manufacturer earlier. The most notable feature is the fact that the model has a very traditional design, which means that it isn’t a universal fit at all, rather is designed for SUVs and light, truck-sized vehicles in particular.
Although it is of a typical design, there are still many outstanding features on it. For instance, the chain can be installed and removed very easily, and also does not require any movement of the vehicle during installation. Moreover, the products boast about its self-tightening ratchets, which provide both, easy installation and is a great design feature on the move, to ensure that an appropriate amount of pressure is held.
Its cross-chain has a diamond pattern scored for extra traction when in motion, providing a very smooth ride. Overall, this is a very well designed tire chain having numerous useful features. The cherry on the cake is its price tag – just around a 100 bucks, with all those well-rounded features! What else does a truck/SUV owner need?
- Designed For Light Trucks & SUV’s
- Automatic Self-Tightening Ratchets
- No Vehicle Movement Required for Installation
- BrandSecurity Chain
- Weight13.85 lbs
We have taken much different design of snow tire chains on the list so far. This is the second product from Konig here but is pretty different than the previous one. This is the very classic, standard, snow chain and since it is manufactured by Konig, rest assured the quality and simple yet classy design is definitely there.
The features aren’t exactly what you can call outstanding, but you are getting a product that does exactly what it is supposed to do and what you need time to time. A price tag under 200 bucks is also quite impressive which means that you are getting some great value for money for such a well-manufactured tire chain.
- High Quality, Traditional Design
- 16mm Clearance
- Manual Tightening
- Weight18.55 lbs
This one may be well recognized way back from this list’s beginning, as it is somewhat a twin of the SZ1433 Security Chain model. This set of tire chains is designed well for common SUV vehicles and passenger cars. The product is exactly the same, except for the fact that it scaled up for lighter trucks and larger wheels for SUVs.
This means that you will be getting all the outstanding features which made the smaller version among the best tire chains seen as yet. Just in case you missed out on that, the list of its features begins with a very simple installation along with some built-in rubber tensioners which are self-tightening. This means that once the chains have been installed, their tension will be maintained on its own as you drive.
The metal cable design seen before is also applied here, that replaced the common chain design we see on traditional products. The cable is designed to give some exceptional traction and grip with a very low clearance which is perfect for SUVs. Moreover, it also goes well with the anti-lock brake system sensors featured in it. The price is higher for a large version but is still some great value for such a well-designed product.
- Designed for Light Trucks & SUV’s
- Quick Installation
- Built In Self-Tightening Rubber Tensioners
- Excellent Versatile Traction
- Decent Compatibility with Anti-Lock Brake Systems
- BrandSecurity Chain
- Weight13.4 lbs
This one is another very simple yet efficient, and it is no coincidence that even this one is from koing, being the third entry from the brand. They are just too good at it! This one is a very simple design with a similar mold as the earlier one, with no whistles or bells on it being one of the most traditional and basic snow chains. Its simplicity is what has become its unique selling point along with its high quality built.
Again, none of the innovations is as such earth-shattering on this one, but it is just such good value and well made, that it will do exactly what it is made to do. Another notable point is that the 12mm clearance of the product sits closer and lower to the tire compared to the previous model from the brand, making it a much better option than the earlier one, that makes it a great choice for vehicles having low clearance, such as SUVs.
- Simple, efficient design
- Manual Tightening
- 12mm Clearance
- High quality Construction
- Weight5.51 lbs
The final product on our list is the Cobra Cable, which may sound absurd but the design is quite innovative. We are looking for a chain design that can incorporate the cable style design seen in the two Security chain products viewed earlier, but this one will also provide some excellent traction in the snow while keeping the entire clearance low and all good.
It is noticeable that this model doesn’t have a securing chain, rather it is held by a very thin wire only. This may not provide the strength of some of the more rugged models on this list, but nevertheless, it may still protect the alloys from any scratches caused by big chains, so it is somewhat a trade-off.
Another point to be noted is that the price is exceptionally low, as it comes unit under $50, becoming one of the best-valued snow chains in our list. To summarize, the product is pretty basic and even lacks the strength of heavier vehicles or may not perform as well in very tough winters. But for occasional use on passenger cars which aren’t as heavy, there are multiple well-designed features at a very low price.
- Exceptionally Low Price
- Rubber Adjusters - sold Separately
- Simple Design
- Carbon Steel Rollers
- BrandQuality Chain
- Weight9.1 lbs
Best Tire Chains for Snow Buying Guide & FAQ
With this, our list of the best tire chains in the market concludes. Given the wide range of products in terms of both features and designs, we have compiled a buying guide for you too look at and identify the key ones of those.
Tire Chains for Snow – Features to Consider
- Self-Tightening Ratchets – These are little devices that help you in two ways – one, installation becomes as easy as ABC with them, as the chains become lighter due to the wheel’s motion. Moreover, this also keeps the pressure at an optimal level when the vehicle is in motion. This feature is quite important as a very slack chain just won’t provide the kind of traction needed and is in fact very likely to be damaged. Self-tightening rachets are featured in premium models, and while you must naturally be tempted to save some bucks on a cheaper model, but you will regret the decision when you are crouching in the snow trying to tighten the locks on that cheaper snow chain without those self-tightening rachets.
- Tread – We’re talking about the contact point between the surface of snow/ice/road and chain. There are multiple methods varying between nails and cables to traditional chains. A traditional chain is the tried and tested one among these, that has a lot of surface area to provide that traction. So, look for models having these patterns cut out in the chains which will help provide a tad bit more of traction. Steel cables, though are a newer thing but perform well to create a lot of traction for safe driving conditions.
- Clearance – primarily, this relates to the thickness of the chain – the thicker the chain, the higher its clearance. This will be discussed in more detail below, but at the very basic level, clearance is the gap between vehicle bodywork and tire. Its chain requires a clearance where the movement of tire won’t be impeded by it.
Snow Chains & The Law
Just like many other items, the law for snow chains is also different for each state. You may click here to get a handy note of state-wise laws, and when in doubt simply contact your local police department or town hall.
Appropriate Time to Use Tire Chains
Snow chains are most useful during or after a snowstorm, but snow must already be present on the ground, being at least an inch thick. If its anything less than that, the road surface will be cut by the chains and also wear off much quicker. Chains work particularly well on compact, packed ice and snow surface. Besides this, they also work well on muddy surfaces.
Snow Chains and Speed
When driving on snow, a snow chain provides extra grip on the surface but doesn’t add enough to drive as compared to how you could in normal conditions. When using chains, you shouldn’t exceed 30mph, and should also avoid any acceleration or harsh braking, as both of these can damage the chain.
Snow Chain Maintenance
Being chains, snow chains are obviously quite hard. Having said that, they can keep going for many winters to come with just very basic maintenance as well. When done driving, always remove the snow chains and ash them well to remove any dirt and debris. For this, a pressure washer would be a great option. Hang them somewhere high and once they’ve dried, spray them with WD40 or a similar substance to provide some extra protection. That’s about it!
Best Snow Chains FAQ:
Q: What do I do if the manufacturer of my car says not to use snow chains?
A: If the manufacturer says so, they must have a good reason to say so which may be related to the clearance around the tire, though some other mechanical issues also make installation of snow tire chains a bad idea. The best thing to do in a case where the manufacturer has advised not to use snow chains is to contact them and inquire about the reason, and then act accordingly.
Q: Can I use snow socks instead of snow chains?
A: Snow socks can also be used, but their effectiveness compared to snow chains, especially on hard-packed snow is still debatable. However, for tires with low clearance, they are a good option. If the manufacturer has advised not to use snow chains, a good alternative can be good socks in that case.
Q: How do I know what size my tires are?
A: have a look at your tire, its sidewall and just over the rim. There will be three numbers, the first one would be a three-digit number which is the tire width, the second one will be a double-digit number and that’s the tire height ratio that expresses the height of the sidewall as a percentage of the total width, while the third number is simply the diameter. These measurements are in inches generally, and with this, you know the tire size.
Q: What thicknesses of the chain can my car accommodate?
A: With this, we come back to the tire clearance, mentioned earlier. The entire chain is outside the wheel, there must be enough clearance between the tire and vehicle body. The best way to inspect this is by keeping your hands on the wheel at the top of the tire and then running hand behind and over the tire. Now reach back and perform a sweeping motion.
If you are able to take your hand all the way around without hitting anything, then there’s enough clearance on your tire. Usually, regular passengers like salon cars have ample clearance available. Others like Minivan, SUV and truck style vehicles often have less clearance, so be a little more alert if you own one of these vehicles.
The least clearance is in the fancy sports cars, that is on a lowered suspension and you will only be able to device similar to a snow sock in them. But well, you don’t even need to drive up the rocks on your Ferrari, anyway!
Q: How should I drive with chains on?
A: The answer is simple – VERY CAREFULLY! Your car’s overall traction will get a boost with these but they just don’t allow you to just drive like there isn’t any snow out there, man. They are just an aid to driving and not any cheat on one of your video games.
The best practice is to not exceed 30mph when using tire chains, and any acceleration or harsh brakes must also be avoided. Moreover, the risk of controlling the vehicle, the chains may get damaged or even break!
Q: How many snow chains do I need?
A: This usually depends on one’s personal preference. Many people just put a single chain on their traction wheels, i.e. the engine stays connected to the wheel which actually moves the car. So, when driving an SUV or a similar vehicle, the chains are required on all the four chains, while on a regular car can go around with just two as well.
Some people usually place chains on all their tires, nevertheless, even on some 4×4 vehicles. The overall traction can be added and in some instances, much better handling is also provided but is however not necessary very strictly.
Unless stated otherwise, all the snow chains mentioned on our list are sold in pairs.
Q: If my car has an anti-lock brake system, do I still need chains?
A: Yes, chains are still needed. Anti-lock brake systems are basically designed to just stop skidding in times of rapid deceleration, which is just a fancy way to state that in case of a sudden brake, the car would stop safely without a lot of skidding.
In reality, nothing much is actually done to help with the steering control or traction. In fact, antilock would be quite useless on an icy or snowy road without any snow chains, as the vehicle, just won’t have the required traction to stop itself.
What must be kept in mind is however that, sensors relying on the antilock brake systems can be affected by the snow chains, reducing their efficiency. So, as mentioned earlier, just drive in a sensible manner by keeping your speed down and you’re safe.
Our Top Pick
We have a lot of remarkable products on our list, but keeping the price tag in mind, the top pick has to be the SZ143 from Security Chain Company. This one is just packed with so many remarkable features, all for a very reasonable price which is very frankly, quite hard to find. It is a light, small and easy to install a product which makes it perfect to simply dump in the trunk, garage or in the store until needed. Once it is on the vehicle, you get an excellent amount of traction paired with rubber self-tightening ring that helps you give the control as needed to drive safely during the worst road conditions as well.