20 Best Tire Chains (2020): Buyer’s Guide and Unbiased Reviews

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Are you on a quest to find the best tire chains?

Then you’re in the right place. Because I have done the hard work for you and have reviewed dozens of products to bring you the best tire chains.

In addition, I will introduce the following related topics.

  • Product Details (Including advantages and disadvantages) 
  • Buyer’s Guide
  • Reasons to Buy and Use Tire Chains
  • Tire Chain Types
  • Tire Chain Top-Rated Brands
  • The Laws and Snow Chains
  • What You Need to Know about Driving with Tire Chains
  • Cables Vs Tire Chains
  • Snow Tires Vs Tire Chains
  • Maintaining Snow Chains
  • General Snow Chain Tips

I will also answer some common questions.

  • How to put on snow chains?
  • My car’s owner’s manual says not to use snow chains – why?
  • Are snow chains legal in all states?
  • Can snow chains be used with all vehicles?
  • Are snow chains still required if I have antilock brakes?
  • Can snow socks fill in for snow chains?
  • How can I figure out the size of my tires?
  • How thick should snow chains be?
  • How many snow chains should I get?

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Chief Editor


Hours Researching

Products Evaluated

Reviews Considered

Researched Sources

Top 3 Picks ( In a Hurry? Here are the winners )

Editor’s Choice & Best Seller
Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
Professional's Choice
KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
Best Value
Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
Our Rating
Editor’s Choice & Best Seller
Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon
Professional's Choice
KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon
Best Value
Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon

Best Tire Chains

Driving in ice and/or snow can be challenging as there are different things that could go wrong. No matter how careful you are, driving in snow pose danger threats. If you’re living in an area where winter and snow are common, you need to be able to put something into place to ensure your safety and/or your passenger’s safety at the same time. Whether you’re dropping off or picking up a child, or going out for supplies, or maybe you’re off to work, extra caution isn’t enough.

You need to make sure that you are fully prepared for what’s coming at you during this time of the year, and a little traction with the help of tire chains won’t hurt. To help you choose which ones are for you, we’ve listed down some of the most popular and recommended tire chains, along with their pros and cons so you can better decide.

1. Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs – Editor’s Choice & Best Seller

Specifically designed for cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks, the Super Z6 is said to help you save time and money. Not only they work on most vehicles, but this particular model is also popular not just for their versatility, but also because installing this is super easy. It doesn’t require a lot of time and effort from your end, and you can get back and running without even moving your vehicle an inch. Additionally, you don’t have to lift your vehicle as operating clearance isn’t required.

This specific model comes with a rubber tightening feature – so as soon as you’ve done the installation, there aren’t any adjustments needed from your end. One of the features of the Z6 is that it allows you to safety and steadily ride even on roads covered with snow. There’s no need to worry about the chains breaking in the middle of your drive as it is dependable and is surely capable of surviving numerous terrains.

These snow chains are versatile and are tested to work very well with most electronic systems on SUVs, 4-wheel (or all-wheel) drives and even on the traction control features. You can stop worrying even if you’re going on long drives. What’s best about this model is that it requires half the space as compared to other tire chains because of its diagonal pattern. This means that you get better control, stop whenever you wanted to, break and even cut corners without troubles at all.

  • Versatile as it works with most vehicles
  • No adjustments necessary because of its rubber tightening features
  • Functions really well with the automobile’s electronics systems
  • While fast to install, it’s not as easy compared to other models

2. Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT Light Truck and SUV Tire Traction Chain

Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT Light Truck and SUV Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Fastest, easiest installation of any traction product
  • Built-in rubber tensioner means there is no need to stop and retighten...
  • Better all-around traction performance than conventional tire chains...
  • Greater durability than conventional tire chains or cables
  • Better compatibility with anti-lock brakes, traction control,...

With a pretty straightforward installation process, there’s no need to adjust or tighten with the Super Z LT because of the rubber-tensioner system in place. As soon as you’ve done with the installation, you’ll immediately notice the difference in your vehicle’s traction.

Comparing with other snow chains or cables, you’ll notice that the traction quality of the Super Z LT is way superior in many ways as manifested by the ease of driving once you have it up and running. This also works with most electronic control systems, so you can just easily and conveniently continue with your driving, regardless of how slippery the road may appear.

If you own an SUV with limited clearances, this might be a great option for you as this model has met the standards for vehicles under “S” clearances. Just like we’ve expected, it is known to be durable and can withstand prolonged driving periods.

Comparing the Super Z LT with the Super Z, the Z LT is considered to more durable and a little bit larger. As mentioned earlier, after setting up, there’s nothing else needed from your end, no adjustments whatsoever. Whether you’re driving a light truck, an SUV or an all-wheel drive, you won’t have any problems as they are proven to be an effective tire chain even on the most dreadful winter months.

  • Durable
  • No re-tightening / adjustments required after installation
  • Superior traction
  • For first-timers, the installation process can be a tad confusing

3. Peerless 0232605 Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain

Peerless 0232605 Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Worry-free self-tightening ratchets provide automatic tightening and...
  • Easy installation and removal in minutes
  • Do not exceed 30 MPH with these chains on
  • Diamond pattern cross chain provides a smoother ride and superior...
  • Meet class 'S' clearance requirements

Among the notable traits of this specific tire chain would be the automatic centering and tightening system. While not all roads are the same, one of the great things about this model is that this adjusts accordingly giving you more reliability as you drive.

Another amazing thing about this particular brand is that its chain is snug and fits perfectly, no matter how much the tire moves, no matter what the terrain is. This means that as soon as this has been installed to your vehicle, the chain will remain where it should be and won’t be displaced. In the event that the chain gets loose, it would automatically retighten without having you do this manually.

This specific model also comes with an intelligent feature. With its low mass D cross-section, it helps minimize impact. What does this mean for you? Even after using it for years, you can expect that these snow chains will remain strong and durable.

As per installation, it comes with an easy-to-install instruction manual. No need to be a pro in installing snow chains, even first-timers can do it.

  • Fool-proof installation instructions
  • Excellent traction
  • Solid construction
  • There could be some potential problems with the size
  • Tensioners aren’t as strong

4. Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain – Best Value

Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
  • Case hardened steel rollers on cable cross members
  • Suitable for front and rear wheel drive vehicles
  • Type "S" limited clearance
  • Will NOT void vehicle warranty
  • Product fitment details can be verified under "see all details" for...

One of the common drawbacks of motorists not using snow chains or tire chains is that they are afraid that doing so may void their vehicle’s warranty. While technically, it wouldn’t, there are some snow chains that may damage the car’s exterior, especially when the chain isn’t installed properly. With this particular model, this is the least of your concerns.

Versatility is another feature that you can expect from this model. Whether you’re driving a rear or front-drive vehicle, it will surely work for you.

The cable work on this chain is outstanding, not to mention the hardened low carbon steel case. With the quality of materials installed on these chains, you can expect them to last longer.

If you’re worried about the chains touching your car’s surface, this particular model doesn’t – so you can have peace of mind that you won’t void your car warranty.

  • Installation is easy as 1-2-3!
  • Suitable for long drives
  • The chains are more likely to get scratched
  • Prone to retention problems

5. KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains – Professional’s Choice

KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
  • 235/75-15, 215/85-16, 215/80-16, 225/75-16, 235/65-16 (no Goodyear...
  • The quick fitting snow chain for SUVs, providing superior driving...
  • 12 mm inside and on-the-tread clearance.
  • Anti-scratch nylon bumpers protect alloy wheels (optional...
  • Self-tensioning system

If you often traverse over snowy and icy roads, then it may be in your best interests to purchase these tire chains from KONIG. While this set is slightly more expensive when compared to other brands, you will soon realize that this set is meant to last.

The KONIG Snow Chains are made from solid and robust materials and feature a reasonable weight made to handle all types of terrain. They can also be used on SUVs, and they match up to several standards along with certifications that prove that these chains match up to their purpose.

They are available in 8 different sizes and feature a quick-fit style. They also come with anti-scratch nylon bumpers that eradicate or drastically lower the risks of damages to your vehicle.

Yet the best feature about this chainset would have to be its self-tensioning system. Instead of having to stop and then tighten these chains, or worrying that they will come loose, these chains are guaranteed to do all the hard tasks on their own. With all these brilliant features it is easy to see why this product is worth its price tag.

  • You won’t need to stop in order to tighten them
  • They are easy to install
  • Long-lasting, durable, and rugged
  • Can be used on bigger vehicles
  • Lots of different size options
  • It is easy to find out whether they will fit your vehicle when you use the size chart before you make a purchase
  • The nylon bumpers ensure that the chains will not scratch or damage your vehicle
  • Difficult to install if you are using this type of chain for the first time
  • Expensive when compared to other models
  • Heavy

6. Tire Chains for 20 x 10.00 x 8

Weighing 14.5 lbs. and measuring approximately 13.2″ x 7.6″ x 3.4″, this is an economical option for you. Considered to be one of the best selling snow chains in Amazon.com, this model works great specifically for 20″ x 10″ x 8″ tires.

Depending on your tire size, you may need to trim the links. They’re a little bit more versatile than the previous ones we’ve discussed. While we’ve noticed that the chains are a tad thinner, you don’t have to worry as this doesn’t affect the traction performance and you can still expect to have a smooth drive.

Considered to be one of the best snow chains that are out there, the Peerless Tire Chains are also known to have added traction. Just the right amount of it so you don’t have to worry about your ride being too bumpy. Installation-wise, they aren’t as easy to install as others, so if this is your first time, you may want to ask help from someone experienced installing tire chains.

  • Economically priced
  • Rides are smooth
  • Excellent traction
  • Excellent weight
  • Fits perfectly
  • Requires advanced level experience in installation

7. TerraGrips Tire Chains 20×8-8 [ST90001]

TerraGrips Tire Chains 20x8-8 [ST90001]
  • Improved traction in snow, mud, mulch, gravel, and more
  • Rubber slats provide superior grip and protect driving surface against...
  • Rubber offers exceptional durability and prevents additional tire wear...
  • Easy, no-tools installation; Plated steel components resist rust; Made...
  • Important* Please refer to sizing information on left prior to...

If your job involves using snow blowers or yard equipment over terrain that is challenging, you can benefit from the TerraGrips Tire Chains from TerraKing. These are the type of chains that make labor-intensive tasks a lot easier by helping you to improve your overall traction.

Regardless of whether you are trying to traverse through mulch, snow, gravel, mud, or any other type of challenging terrain, you will be surprised at how well these tire chains work. This set features rust-resistant, robust plated-steel chains which go around the outside of your tires, with rubber slats that run along the middle section of each tire. This means that you will not notice any damages to the equipment in your yard.

In addition, you won’t be needing any tools in order to install them. This product is produced in the US and is made to reduce your efforts when traversing through a yard, for even the most challenging of areas. This is an affordable chain set that offers highly reliable performance.

  • The rubber slats prevent any damages from occurring to your equipment in your yard
  • These chains are ideal for all types of terrain
  • They provide excellent grip
  • Made in the USA
  • You won’t need tools to install this product
  • Budget-friendly price
  • The rubber is known for slipping on the surface of the tires
  • The journey is a lot bumpier when compared to other similar brands
  • They are prone to tearing up lawns

8. KONIG XB-16 250 Snow chains

KONIG XB-16 250 Snow chains, set of 2
  • 9-15, 265/70-15, 7.50- 15, 235/80-16, 235/75-16, 245/70-16, 235/70-17,...
  • The manually tensioned snow chain: value for money and reliability.
  • 16 mm inside and on-the-tread clearance.
  • Certifications: Ă–-Norm 5117, Ă–-Norm 5119, UNI 11313, TĂśV.

The KONIG Snow Chains feature dual-sided D-links, that ensure a long-lasting life, while at the same time providing sufficient traction. Even after extensive use, these snow chains won’t wear out while maintaining exceptional grip. The chains are made from high-quality steel which makes your ride more comfortable, even when you are traveling over icy terrain.

This combination of the D-links and manganese-nickel allow results in outstanding durability. They also come with a self-centering system and built-in auto-tensioning which self-adjusts for the perfect fit. Once you install these chains around each tire, you won’t be required to tweak them in any way.

The self-centering system and auto-tensioning activate as soon as you have tightened the chains around each tire. This does away with having to leave your vehicle or SUV in order to adjust these settings. Having to get out of your vehicle in freezing temperatures is never enjoyable, so this added feature is a definite bonus. This set of chains is also color-coded making them easy to install. They also come with spare links for added convenience.

  • Great traction and grip
  • Durable design
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty
  • Might not work on SUV tires that are very large

9. KONIG CS-10 070 Snow chains

KONIG CS-10 070 Snow chains, set of 2
  • 195/70-13, 175/80-14, 195/65-14, 205/60-14, 175/70-15, 185/65-15,...
  • The smart chain with self-tensioning system and automatic release
  • 10 mm inside and on-the-tread clearance
  • Anti-scratch nylon bumpers protect alloy wheels (optional...
  • Certifications: Ă–-Norm 5117, UNI 11313 / CUNA NC 178-01, TĂśV.

If you are worried about something going wrong, these chains also come with a 5-year warranty (established by Thule), which means if they happen to break you are able to ask for a new set without any charge to you. These chains are constructed out of high-quality steel which comes with a gauge that is smaller, which makes your drives less bumpy. When you assemble the chain, the color-coded points offer an easy way to install these points, especially if this is the first time you are installing tire chains. They also feature a self-tensioning cycle along with a self-centering install which means they fit perfectly right away. The quick-release removal situated at the back makes it easy to remove when you no longer need them anymore.

The KONIG CS10 Super-Premium Passenger Car Snow Chain is a great buy if you are just starting out with tire chains with a limited budget. These chains are very easy to install and they perform very well. However, it is important to keep in mind that this set is not as durable compared to the previous chains on this list, and if you require a lot of traction, this might not be the best option for you.

  • Self-tensioning
  • Color-coded assembly
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Not ideal if you require a lot of traction

10. Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains (1042)

Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains (1042)
  • Sold in Pairs (2 Chains/Covers 2 Tires)
  • Rubber Adjusters Sold Separately (Quality Chain Part# 0212)...
  • SAE Class "S" Clearance
  • Not for Use on Trailers

If you do not have a lot of money to spend, yet you require snow tire chains to assist you in getting from A to B, then this might be the set for you. This set comes in a pair which are robust and durable as well as suited to various vehicle types which will help you to feel a lot safer when driving over tricky terrain.

While this product only comes in pairs rather than sets of four, you will still be safer with just a pair when you run into snowy patches. These snow tire chains come in 9 different sizes while providing minimal clearance that reduces damage to your vehicle, and low-profile carbon-steel rollers which last for a lot longer.

While this set does not feature rubber adjusters, this is an affordable set that you are able to purchase separately. They are lightweight and simple to install, which will ensure you are safer on your journey than you were before. Instead of risking driving without any protection, this is a low-cost choice which will contribute to much safer driving over tough terrain.

  • Simple to install
  • Affordable choice
  • Various size options
  • Less vibration in comparison to other models
  • Non-damaging to your vehicle
  • Robust and durable
  • Come in pairs rather than fours
  • You cannot use this product on trailers
  • The rubber adjusters need to be purchased separately

More Products (Our Rating: 4 Stars)

11. Security Chain Company SC1038 Radial Chain Cable Traction Tire Chain
Security Chain Company SC1038 Radial Chain Cable Traction Tire Chain - Set of 2
  • Requires low operating space around drive tires
  • Low weight facilitates simple mounting and removal
  • Improves starting, stopping and cornering performance
  • Constructed from stainless steel and are highly durable
  • Ensures smooth ride
12. KONIG CB-12 097 Snow chains
KONIG CB-12 097 Snow chains, set of 2
  • 195/70-16, 215/60-16 (no Bridgestone Duravis/ no Continental Conti...
  • The simple and sturdy manual tensioning chain.
  • 12 mm inside and on-the-tread clearance.
  • Certifications: Ă–-Norm 5117, UNI 11313, TĂśV.
13. Security Chain Company Z-579 Z-Chain Extreme Performance Cable Tire Traction Chain
Security Chain Company Z-579 Z-Chain Extreme Performance Cable Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Manganese alloy cross members provide superior, all-around traction...
  • Fast, secure installation and removal, with no need to move the...
  • Better compatibility with anti-lock brakes, traction control,...
  • Meets S.A.E. Class “S” clearance requirements or vehicles with...
  • Low potential for damage to vehicle body and mechanical components,...
14. Security Chain Company QG2228CAM Quik Grip Light Truck CAM LSH Tire Traction Chain
Security Chain Company QG2228CAM Quik Grip Light Truck CAM LSH Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Includes cam and non-cam chains, regular, heavy duty and cold...
  • Provides optimal traction to your vehicle
  • Comes with the cam tool and step by step instructions for easy...
  • Alternative to cable chains
15. Arnold 490-241-0028 16 x 4.8-Inch Snow Thrower Tire Chains
Arnold 490-241-0028 16 x 4.8-Inch Snow Thrower Tire Chains
  • Fits 16" x 4.8" snow thrower tires
  • Provides additional traction in inclement weather
  • Contains two tire chains
  • For knobby tread tires only. Installation instructions included with...
16. Glacier Chains H2821SC Light Truck V-Bar Twist Link Tire Chain
Glacier Chains H2828SC Light Truck V-Bar Twist Link Tire Chain
  • Tough carbon steel twist link cross chain with welded V-bar
  • Lever end fastener for easy mounting
  • Great for your truck, van or SUV
  • Meets all state requirements for traction devices
  • Comes with locking side-cams to always ensure a good fit
17. Security Chain Company QG2828 Quik Grip V-Bar Light Truck LRS Tire Traction Chain
Security Chain Company QG2828 Quik Grip V-Bar Light Truck LRS Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Durable Quik Grip link chain reinforced
  • Light truck and SUV applications
  • Highway service
  • On and Off road use
  • Tightner QG20074-10 required
18. Grizzlar GTN-524 Garden Tractor/Snowblower Net/Diamond Style Alloy Tire Chains 15x5.00-6
Grizzlar GTN-524 Garden Tractor/Snowblower Net/Diamond Style Alloy Tire Chains 15x5.00-6
  • Net style chain for excellent traction
  • Much more contact of the chain with the road than with ladder style...
  • Manganese steel for longer durability
  • Especially suitable for tires with very aggressive tread
  • Fits 15x5.00-6. Sold in pairs.
19. Security Chain Company QG3829 Quik Grip Wide Base V-Bar Type RD Light Truck Tire Traction Chain
Security Chain Company QG3829 Quik Grip Wide Base V-Bar Type RD Light Truck Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Quik Grip wide base link chain
  • Light truck and SUV applications
  • Highway service
  • Durable
  • Tightner QG20074-10 required
20. Zip Grip Go Cleated Tire Traction Snow Ice Mud - Car SUV Van Truck

No products found.

Reasons to Buy and Use Tire Chains

Better Traction

Tire chains made for ice and snow will provide much-needed traction when the weather is adverse. The standard passenger vehicles are not made to stand up to winter conditions that are harsh.

Makes Driving Safer

The better tire chains for snow enables you to drive in bad weather to work or home without having to worry about breaking down or getting stuck. If you would like to travel safely over the winter months, snow chains happen to be one of your best options.

Snow Chains are Better than Snow Tires

If you drive a truck, passenger car, or an SUV, tire chains which are easy-to-install will really improve the way you traverse over tough terrain.

Low Maintenance

Top-rated truck and car chains are usually easy to keep clean. They usually just require a quick wash and you are able to pack them away for when you need them again.

Tire Chain Types

When you start shopping around for tire chains, you first need to decide which type you need. Below are the different available options:

Entry Level

The entry-level snow chain will provide an average level of traction-control when traveling over snow and ice. These basic chains are better suited to the areas which experience occasional snow. These chains usually come with tightening tools and accessories to assist when you install them. These are the types of snow chains recommended for occasional usage. They are best suited for emergencies, yet it is better to invest in the premium or standard sets if you are driving through heavy snow.


The standard versions of snow chains provide a balance between affordability, performance, and durability. This is the type of chain that offers more consistent traction in comparison to the entry-level models. They also come with every accessory that you will need in order to install your tire chains. The standard versions are best for drivers in regions that experience regular snowfall. This is tire chains that are also suitable for the drivers that require enough traction that will last for an entire season.


The premium tire chains offer superior grip and better braking performance in snow and ice. This type of chain is constructed out of highly durable parts and they are made to stand up to everyday use. The premium versions are made to outlast and will usually last for a number of years. They also come with features that provide an easy way to install them. They cost slightly more when compared to the standard chains, yet they are a great choice for drivers that require the very best traction over the harshest of winter months.

Alternative Traction

This is a better choice if you are only driving over sparse areas of snow. This is a great choice for vehicles that feature a low profile.

In addition to what they are intended for, the best of the tire chains are categorized according to their configuration.

Z Chain

If you prefer simplicity, then this may be your best option. These are hassle-free and quick to install. They are also compatible with various tire types and come with rubber tighteners.

Radial Chain

If you require the best starting and stopping, this is one of the better options. These feature an all-steel construction which is instrumental in how durable these chains are.

Buyer’s Guide: Important Factors To Consider Before Buying

When you start finding out about how each brand or product happens to differ from the next, here are the more important factors that need to be taken into account:

1. Size

The most important consideration incudes the fitment. This will mean that the size of the chain tire needs to match up to the actual size of the tires that you own. If you use tires that are too large, they may bang against your vehicle and will fail to offer the traction that you need. If they are too small, the chains won’t fit your tires at all.

2. Installation

This is one of the more important features for most buyers. The tire chains that are the easiest to install happen to be the more popular purchased options. However, it is important to note that the more basic of the snow chains are typically not the easiest or convenient to install.

One of the more common of the install features includes the clamp-on installation which typically features automatic chain-tensioning. These are the easiest chains to install and take off. The next option includes the drape-over-the-tire type. These chains do not require connections, yet they are not regarded as safe or effective when compared to clamp-on chains.

3. Materials

When it comes to chain tires there are not many materials to compare and list as the majority of these chains are made from alloy. This is an alloy which is mainly made up of steel and nickel. There really isn’t any other type of way since the overall integrity of a snow chain is compromised when it is not sturdy.

4. The Price

Many buyers make their decision based on the price. And many buyers often choose a brand due to its cheap price. When it comes to tire chains this is something you should be avoiding. Quality needs to be the deciding factor. Investing in a product that is more expensive will ensure performance and safety when it comes to this particular product category.

5. Link Pattern

Different types of tire chains feature different patterns and each comes with its own set of benefits and purposes. If you are looking for tire chains that are specifically designed to handle slippery surfaces, the diagonal link would be one of the best options. If you are looking for grip and durability, the square link is a better choice. The ladderlike links perform best for off and on-road driving.

6. Durability

The top-rated tire chains will always be durable, and this means they provide the best performance over a number of seasons or years. Even if you use your chain tires on a consistent basis, they shouldn’t be susceptible to general wear-and-tear. If they are not you will end up spending more on frequent replacements or compromising your safety.

7. Weight

The lighter chains are associated with improved fuel efficiency and the heavier versions are more effective when it comes to rough terrain which includes heavy snowfall and icy surfaces. It will depend on the what type of weather you drive in, yet the heavy chains are obviously less convenient to travel with when you are not using them, yet you need to keep in mind how often you will need your tire chains.

8. Self-Tensioning

Cables and chains which are self-tensioning can be useful as the ratchet will tighten the chain as soon as your tires start to move, which will eradicate any slack. Slack is associated with reducing performance. In addition, if your tire chains are not tight enough, they can become damaged. The tensioning cable that is manual, have to be re-tightened every time you are finished driving, yet these are typically an easier task to install. Tensioners on the self-adjusting cables have the ability to fail, which means it is always a good idea to travel with additional tensioners.

9. Automatic Release

A few of the best tire chains designed for use in snow come with automatic-release features. This is advantageous as it offers an easier way to take them off. For example, if you are driving over long distances you might encounter snowfall periodically along the trip. The feature of automatic-release provides a way to quickly take the chains off when you no longer need them.

10. Clearance

This will include the measurement or distance that occurs between the tire and body of your vehicle. The better tires cables will always be durable and thick. The thicker of these cables are associated with higher clearances. The snow tire chains need the ability to move easily with your tires without scraping against your vehicle.

11. Category

If you drive a passenger vehicle, you should look for the snow chains which feature an SAE Class S rating. This will mean that they are intended for use on front-wheel and newer drive vehicles that have a ground clearance that is lower. The chains designed for other designations come with ground clearances that are higher. These will not perform well for daily driving and could end up damaging your vehicle.

12. Reviews

If you are finding it difficult to make up your mind, you can rely on the opinions of people that have already purchased and used the product. This is one of the better ways to weigh up the cons and the pros when it comes to the brands that you are interested in.

Tire Chain Top-Rated Brands

Konig American

Konig American is one of the subsidiaries of YHI International, and they have been in the business of manufacturing aftermarket wheels over the last 35 years. With offices located on the East and West coasts, this is a popular brand when it comes to snow chains which include the KONIG CB-12 090 Snow Chain.

Peerless Industrial Group

With their headquarters in Winona, Minnesota, this company produces a number of winter-traction products which falls under the Security Chain Company name. This brand also produces a variety of other chains for differing purposes. One of their popular tire chains for snow includes The SZ441 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain By The Security Chain Company.


Founded in 1942 in Sweden, Thule now has more than 2,200 employees across 40 locations around the globe. A popular snow chain product that they sell includes the CG-9 095 2-Piece Snow Chain Set By Thule.

The Laws and Snow Chains

Many of the states will provide information on when you must, should, or can fit tire chains to drive in snow. They will also give you advice on when it is not appropriate or safe to install snow chains. Some states will leave this decision to the drivers.

Yet there are a number of states that have their own specific laws. For instance, in Kentucky, you are not allowed to drive with tire chains unless the roads are covered in ice. The best advice is to always checks, especially when you are driving through a state that you are unfamiliar with.

There are also a number of National Parks that will require that you travel with cables or snow chains over specific periods, regardless of whether they will be used or not. The rules usually vary according to weather conditions and signs are usually posted at the entrances.

In weather conditions that are severe, chains are usually a requirement when driving an all-wheel-drive vehicle, an SUV, or pickup, and in some instances, you will also need fitted studded-snow tires. Some states will fine you up to $5,000, so make sure you adhere to the rules and regulations.

What You Need to Know about Driving with Tire Chains

Tire chains that are fitted incorrectly or when you use them in the incorrect way could result in damages to your vehicle the chains, or even put you at risk. To make sure you are using snow chains in the correct way, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Avoid speeding when you use tire chains. The manual that comes with your snow chains will provide you with the maximum speed you should be driving at when you use these chains. The typical speed that is recommended as safe when you drive with tire chains is generally 35mph-50mph.

You should not be driving over roads that are dry with your snow chains. Doing this will cause damages to these chains. These chains will also have a negative impact on your overall braking performance over roads that are dry.

Accelerating rapidly which causes spinning of your wheels can damage your chains quickly and easily, which may even the loosen the chains. The snow chains should only be installed on your driving wheels. The chains need to installed correctly and they also need to be tightened properly.

Cables Vs Tire Chains

Many consumers today prefer tire chains over cables for very good reasons. The chains are typically more durable. They also usually last longer and perform well over a number of years.

The cables can bend or deform very easily which means they usually eventually break. This is definitely not something you will want to experience when you are attempting to traverse over icy or heavy snow. The one advantage of the cables is that they are usually lighter, and they are also easier to install and remove. It is also important not to over inflate your tires, as the chains will then be too tight over your tires.

The snow chains, in general, provide much better traction. They are also more durable, tougher and harder when compared to cables, which allows for an easier way to get through the snow. Cables may still be a viable choice when you do not drive through snow and icy conditions very often. The chains are the better option for heavier duty use.

One of the other benefits regarded as minor when it comes to tire cables has to do with that they won’t stick out. The cables remain close to your tires which means when passing through an area with minimal side clearance, the cables may be a more convenient choice over chains.

Snow Tires Vs Tire Chains

This is one of the more interesting debates, which is somewhat more complex than the comparison between cables and chains. To begin with, snow tires are highly viable items and in a number of countries that experience milder snow conditions, these are usually the better choice.

When it comes to winter tires they provide you with extended use. In general, investing in new winter tires should last you for at least 3 to 4 winters. They also provide a good degree of traction along with good control when it comes to your vehicle.

Yet when it comes to the tougher conditions, the tire chains are always the better options. Yet if you only experience snow in moderate amounts every year, choosing to replace your tires may be the better option. Yet at the same time, this is one of the major drawbacks when it comes to snow tires.

If you are using snow tires you will need to invest in 2 tire sets. This will include your summer tires and the snow tires. You will need to change your tires out every fall and spring. Some car owners do not enjoy the extra expense and that is why they prefer to use chains on their tires.

So to put things into perspective, if your winters are mainly dry, the tire chains are not the best idea. Driving with them over dry surfaces will cause damages to the chains and your vehicle. Yet if you drive through lots of snow every year, the tire chains are usually the better option.

You could even choose to go with both options. You could use your snow tires for daily driving and use tire chains only when necessary. It is important that you measure air pressure in the tires before you put them on and when you take them off. The top-rated tire-pressure gauges are the ideal tool to help you to achieve this task, here is our review on them.

How to Put On Snow Chains?

We’ve covered a whole host of useful snow chain information here, but the set would be incomplete if we omitted basic instructions for actually using the things. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to installing snow chains:

  1. Remove the chains from their box.
  2. Lay out the chain and ensure it is free of tangles.
  3. Bring the chain to the wheel and pass it around and behind the tire.
  4. The two coated cable ends should be hanging on each side of the tire. Lift them up the tire and join them together.
  5. Locate the colored hook at the middle of the chain. Attach it to the other colored chain section.
  6. Use the tightening ratchet to remove the slack from the bottom of the chain.
  7. Make the chain as tight as possible.
  8. After attaching all chains, start your car and drive it a few yards forward. Check the chains and tighten further if required.

Maintaining Snow Chains

Given that they’re simply hunks of metal, snow chains are mighty durable. If you want to get many years of reliable service out of one set, though, it’s worth taking a little time to maintain them properly.

Once you are done using your chains, take them off and wash them. If you have a pressure washer, that’s the ideal tool for blasting away any dirt and debris on the chains. Hang the chains up somewhere they can dry. Once they are dry, spray them with a light lubricant. WD40 is just fine. This will protect the chains from rust.

General Snow Chain Tips

  • Snow chains should only be used in conditions where at least one inch of snow has stuck to the road. As a general rule, the best time to put chains on is immediately following a snowstorm.
  • The added traction provided by chains can also help you drive in muddy offroad conditions. Remember to remove the chains before you return to paved surfaces! Neglecting to do so might damage your vehicle as well as the road.
  • When you have snow chains mounted, you need to drive slower than usual. Our recommendation is to use 30 MPH as your upper speed limit when driving with chains. Additionally, make your speed changes (braking and accelerating) as gently as possible.
  • Always buy the right size chains for your tires. Poorly-fitted chains may cause an accident. A good set of chains will deliver better snow performance and grip than winter tires.
  • Do not put all your faith in a manufacturer’s chain sizing tables. Install your chains and check them after driving your vehicle a short distance. Chains can settle unexpectedly after you start driving on them.
  • If you live in an area where you need to use your snow chains frequently, it may be a good idea to keep an extra set in your vehicle at all times. This ensures that you won’t get stranded if one chain breaks.
  • Don’t waste your investment in chains by leaving them in your garage. Even if the weather looks good when you set off, keep your chains on board your vehicle. This is particularly important in mountainous regions where weather conditions change quickly.
  • Assemble a survival kit for long-distance winter driving. Key items to include: blankets and or a sleeping bag, flashlight, drinking water, non-perishable food (e.g. chocolate or energy bars), jumper cables, first aid kit, folding shovel (e.g. a purpose-built avalanche shovel), road flares. Charge up your phone fully before departing. Make sure someone knows about your trip, your destination, and your planned time of arrival.
  • To get ground in grit and salt off your snow chains after using them, use a stiff brush and warm soapy water.

Frequently Asked Questions

My car’s owner’s manual says not to use snow chains – why?

On some models, there is simply not enough clearance in the wheel arches for wheels, tires, and chains. Chains may also be proscribed when they would damage alloy wheels or damage nearby brake and suspension components. In some cases, low-profile cable chains may be the right solution for your vehicle. Double-check their suitability before buying and installing them, though!

Are snow chains legal in all states?

Sadly, no. Chain laws vary from state to state. They are typically only allowed on certain roads during certain parts of the year.

Can snow chains be used with all vehicles?

As described above, there are some vehicles where low tire clearance or other mechanical issues make it impossible to use chains of any sort. Always review your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations carefully.

Are snow chains still required if I have antilock brakes?

Yes. Antilock brakes will prevent skidding, but they do nothing to help with lack of traction on snowy or icy roads. You need snow chains in such conditions.

Can snow socks fill in for snow chains?

Snow socks can help, but they are usually less effective than chains. Socks are particularly weak when driving on hard-packed snow. Socks are a good alternative for use on vehicles with tight tire clearance.

How can I figure out the size of my tires?

Go to the source! The size of your tires will be printed on their sidewalls. On a typical tire, you’ll see a code that looks something like this: P185/65 R 16. That means:

  • P = “passenger,” the vehicle type. May not appear on all tires.
  • 185 = width of the tire in millimeters.
  • 65 = aspect ratio, or the ratio between height and width.
  • R = “radial,” the tire type.
  • 16 = wheel diameter in inches.

Some tires will incorporate other information. A tire labeled 255/35 Z R 20, for example, has a speed rating indicated by the “Z.” The size information is always constant, though. This example has a width of 255 mm, an aspect ratio of 35, and is sized for a 20-inch wheel.

These numbers are consistent across all tires, so knowing how to read the code will enable you to size tire chains correctly.

How thick should snow chains be?

The prime factor is always making sure that you leave sufficient clearance between your tires and your vehicle’s body. Clearance is very ample on most passenger vehicles. Clearance may be tighter on vans, trucks, and SUVs. High-performance vehicles – sports cars and lowered cars – have the least clearance. These types of vehicles will probably be impossible to fit with snow chains.

How many snow chains should I get?

The answer here is not quite as straightforward as you might think! While chains are most effective when used on every wheel, they can still work as long as you attach them to the powered wheels that provide motive force. For a 4×4 vehicle like a truck or SUV, you need four sets of chains regardless. On a 2-wheel drive car, though, two chains can do the job. For the very best handling and traction, you’ll want chains on all four wheels.

Note that snow chains are, unless explicitly noted otherwise, always sold in pairs.

Final Thoughts

Picking the right tire chains can be a tricky buying decision. Don’t rush your decision; take your time to learn the basics and study your options carefully. The information provided here should get you well on your way to making a good choice. Remember not to leap on the lowest price when you’re buying tire chains. Effective traction and long-term durability are far more important than saving a few dollars.


Best Tire Chains ( Top 3 Picks )

Editor’s Choice & Best Seller
Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
Professional's Choice
KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
Best Value
Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
Our Rating
Editor’s Choice & Best Seller
Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
Security Chain Company SZ115 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon
Professional's Choice
KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
KONIG XG-12 PRO 245 Snow chains, set of 2
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon
Best Value
Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
Glacier 1038 Passenger Cable Tire Chain - Set of 2
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon

Last update on 2020-06-27 / Rating by Author / Affiliate links, Images, Descriptions & Price from Amazon Product Advertising API

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