If you live in an area where sudden snowstorms are a fact of life, you’ll appreciate reaching into your trunk and finding your tire chains in the exact same condition as you left them, ready to be pressed into duty once again. So tire chain maintenance is essential to making sure your traction-adders last you through as many winters as possible.
Luckily, keeping your tire chains in the best possible shape is as easy as following these three tips, which should see you dashing through the snow, worry-free, for years to come.
1. Corrosion Is the Enemy
There’s really nothing worse for your chains that having them fall victim to rust, as over time, nicks and scratches on the chains run the risk of turning into major headaches once corrosion sets in. One of the easiest aspects of tire chain maintenance is making sure that you keep a step ahead of corrosion by using an oil-based water displacer, or lubricant, to prevent them from staying moist when not in use.
Simply spray your chains with WD-40 just prior to storing them, and you’ll go a long way toward keeping them in usable condition. It’s also helpful to hang them up on a wall in the summer when you no longer need them in the trunk of your car, as it makes it easier to keep them coated with oil (and prevents the links from rusting together).
One of the easiest ways to damage chains is to attach them too loosely to your vehicle’s wheels. Loose chains slam against the road to the point where their usable lifespan can be cut in half — not to mention the potential damage that can be done to your car or truck if the chain should strike against the body or suspension. The best way to ensure this is never a problem is to drive for a half mile after initially attaching your chains and then stop to re-tighten them as needed.
3. Slow Down!
Tire chains aren’t meant to be used at high speeds — in fact, if you’re capable of driving more than 30 mph, you’re probably in a situation where chains aren’t necessary at all. Moving too quickly can undo all of your tire chain maintenance efforts by causing undue stress on the chains themselves, increasing the possibility of link breakage.
But whether you’re tires or strapped into chains or not, keeping it slow in the snow should always be your mantra when you’re navigating treacherous winter roads.
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Photo courtesy of Freeimages.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.