Tread Carefully! It’s a Slippery Slope
If you live in an icy climate, you know the danger that comes with venturing onto roads layered with snow and sleet. Any slippery surface like that requires superior traction to maintain a sense of control. Without proper handling of your vehicle, you’re raising the risk of an accident, getting stranded and ruining the underbelly of your vehicle. That’s why it’s always important to have a winter emergency kit. No matter if you feel confident trekking snowy terrain, loss of tire traction can result from a lot of things, including worn tires, hurried acceleration and climbing steep hills that cause wheels to spin.
Even in climates where it isn’t the norm, having the right gear to handle those one-off snow days is critical! That’s when tire snow chains come in handy. Rather than investing in costly snow tires for your vehicle, tire chains are a budget-friendly solution that improves the grip your tires have on ice and snow. These are chain systems help dig into packed snow and icy surfaces with spiked grip, improving the traction of your vehicle so you aren’t prone to skidding.
Before you get started, you’ll want to know the right kind and amount of snow tire chains needed for your specific vehicle. It’s also important to check the legal restrictions of tire chain use as some states don’t allow them. Clearance heights and material restrictions also apply to certain vehicles. If you need a refresher on your specific needs, check your owner’s manual for details.
Once you’ve read up on OEM requirements and sizing, the next step is to look for chains that fit your application. For example, if you’re dealing with more icy conditions than snow, you want to look for chains that feature spiked ends, studs or “icebreakers” that can properly grip the slick surface. There are also deep snow chains designed with large, square links that are a bit more rounded, giving you a smoother ride over packed snow.
You should also know chains aren’t the only option out there, but they work well for moderately snowy climates. There are also tire control cables, which are long pieces of metal cables wrapped in plastic that are ideal for occasional use. They’re typically cheaper, easier to install and allow for higher speeds, but they’re not as durable as chains. We outline the differences in Snow Chains vs Cables: Which is Right for You? so can narrow down the options for a better lifestyle fit.
Survive Snowpocalypse with NAPA
For most snow drivers, chains are the happy medium. However, installing chains and pulling them apart is a process you’ll have to familiarize yourself with before you can use them without damaging your vehicle or road. You’ll need to drive slower than usual and always make sure to pull over and remove the chains when not directly driving over packed snow or ice. Using snow chains over bare pavement or gravel can result in serious damage to your tires and the road itself. For a more in-depth look into how you should incorporate tire chains into your gear collection, check out Chains for Tires 101: When Should You Use Tire Chains for Cars?
Depending on your vehicle’s build and the amount of snow you’re dealing with on a regular basis, your best tool for combatting snow chaos might look different than that of your neighbor. What’s most important is that you stay prepared for the days when you can’t stay indoors and hide from the blistering cold weather. Using traction-enhancing devices to stabilize your vehicle is the key to calm, collected snow driving. Let the friendly NAPA folks help you choose the best tire chains for snow or ice by shopping our selection of winter accessories. If you still aren’t sure of the right fit, stop by your local NAPA Auto Parts to get expert guidance on vehicle-specific parts, tools and more.
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More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.