Virginia Auto Service

How to Use Snow Chains

Over the last week or so Arizona has had back to back winter storms. It made for lots of rain here in the Valley, and quite a lot of snow in the Northern parts of the state. Parts of the state saw so much snow that ADOT felt it was safer to shut some roads down and advised people to avoid travel if possible until road conditions improved.

How to Use Snow Chains

With this much snow falling, many Valley residents are heading North to play in the snow or visit one of Arizona’s ski resorts. If you plan on spending time in the snow, make sure your roadside emergency kit is fully packed and snow ready. Also, keep in mind that ADOT is recommending snow chains or four-wheel drive for those headed to the high country. Living in the Valley, snow chains are not something we need to be accustomed to, and if it is your first trip to go play in the snow, you may not know how to use snow chains properly.

 12 steps to safely and properly apply snow chains:

These are 12 steps, provided by Les Schwab Tires, to applying snow chains. You can also view their snow chain installation video here.

  1. Find a safe spot and pull off the road as far as possible on the shoulder. Turn on your hazard lights.
  2. Installing chains on all four tires is ideal unless it says otherwise in your owner’s manual. If you use only two, make sure the chains go on the drive wheels. Generally, for four-wheel drive and front-wheel drive vehicles, the chains go on the two front tires, and on the back tires for rear-wheel drives.
  3. Unroll the chain making sure the hook ends are facing the ground.
  4. Push the yellow end of the chains behind and around the tire, then pull the two ends over the top and fasten them.
  5. Grab the chains from both sides of the tire and pull them together toward the center of the tire.
  6. Hook the red fastener into one of the links as snug as you can. It’s okay if there are extra links.
  7. Push the cable to the back of the tire, position the chains loosely over the tread.
  8. There will be another red fastener and draw chain at the bottom of the tire. Pull them towards you until there’s no slack. Then, feed the red draw chain around the opening on the fastener and pull it tight. Lock a link into the notch on the fastener.
  9. Next, feed the rubber end of the draw chain through the red rings. You may only be able to get it through one of the two rings, depending on tire size, but try to get it through both. Tightly stretch the rubber end and hook it to a link in the side chain.
  10. Repeat process on the other tire(s).
  11. Chains should be tight against the tread. Drive forward 15 feet and stop. The chain will have created some slack, tighten the draw chain on each tire, then you are ready to drive.
  12. Once you are through the snow zone, find a safe place to pull off the road, turn on your hazard lights and take off the chains. DO NOT drive for any distance on bare pavement with chains.

Other Snow Chain Tips

  • Purchase the right chains. When obtaining your tire chains, you must first make sure they will fit your tires. Most tire chain packaging has a guide that indicates which tires it fits. You should not attempt to use chains that are too small or too large for your tires. Doing so could damage your vehicle as well as result in dangerous driving.
  • Practice installing them before you need them. Doing this will make it less stressful and easier to do when it matters.
  • Immediately stop and fix a cross chain if it fails. Driving on broken chains can cause you to lose much-needed traction, as well as cause damage. Listen for a loud sound of slapping, or metal on metal.
  • Don’t drive over 30 mph. Make sure you accelerate slowly and evenly when you have chains on your tires, and keep your speed low. Don’t spin your tires.
  • Be mindful of your driving. How you drive will affect your chains. Use extra caution and avoid locking the wheels when you brake, hitting curbs, and driving on pavement that is not covered in snow and/or ice. Doing these things could cause your chains to wear down prematurely and could potentially damage your tires.
  • Lay them out to dry before storing. The chains will rust if they’re stored wet. Lay them out to dry first.

At Virginia Auto Service, we love to help you with your vehicle and safety in any way we can, we hope you find these snow chain tips helpful.  For high-quality auto repair services, give the experts at Virginia Auto Service a try. Call (602) 266-0200 or schedule an appointment online.

 For further safety information on driving it the snow and rain please read the following posts:

Prepping Your Car for The Snow

How to Be Prepared to Drive in the Snow

14 Monsoon Road Safety Tips

Driving in the Valley: El Niño Road Safety Tip