6 Easy Steps to Put on Tire Chains

Driving on snowy and icy roads isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The reduction in road friction, which is necessary for the tires to brake, steer and accelerate, makes it difficult for the drivers to maneuver their vehicles as they’d like. Loss of limb and life mostly follows this scenario.

That isn’t to say that you have no choice but to slip and slide when driving in winter conditions. There are a few tips and tricks out there that could help improve your tires’ grip. One of them involves putting on chains on the tires to provide them with extra traction.

People who visit mountainous areas often are aware of this. They know how crucial the tire chains could be in ensuring the safety of their vehicle and its passengers. That’s why they make it a point to roll them around their tires before the road gets slippery. Here’s how to put on tire chains:

Before you put on tire chains

Here’s what you need to do:

Find out the size of your tire

Find out the size of your tire

Doing this is necessary as it would help you select chains that match the tire size. Look along the road-facing side of the tire for a long string of numbers and letters. Note down all the numbers or take a picture of them. You’ll need the information they provide when shopping for chains.

The first number in the string is an indicator of the tire width, the second of the height ratio, and the third reveals the diameter of the wheel. You don’t have to remember these numbers. Merely showing them to a store employee would help them recommend a chain of the same size.

Identify the tires where you’ll be putting the chains

Most drivers don’t realize that putting on tire chains isn’t just a matter of purchasing them from the market before wrapping them around all four wheels. You need to first determine whether your vehicle is a front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive. Here’s why.

Vehicles that offer front-wheel drive require the chains to go on the front. Those that offer a rear-wheel-drive require chains on their back tires. All-wheel drive vehicles, however, depend on the instructions of their manufacturer as to where you should put the chains.

Park your car at a safe location

Park your car at a safe location

As long as you aren’t living close to the Equator, it’s likely that you would be putting on tire chains just before the road gets slippery. In such a situation, you might not have the luxury of a garage where you could park your vehicle. You may have to put on the chains on the road.

That’s why we recommend that you park your vehicle on the road’s hard shoulder before putting on the road chains. Turn on its emergency lights so that the vehicles coming towards you can notice your presence from afar. All these precautions are necessary for your and your vehicle’s safety.

Practice before you go

Try to put on your tire chains before you go out. Practice in your garage. Don’t tell yourself you can do it right at the first time of asking. The bad weather and heavy winds that might be waiting for you on the road could make it difficult for you to put on tire chains if you’re installing them for the first time.  

There are plenty of YouTube videos to help you. Each set of chains also comes with installation instructions. You can also drive to your favorite tire shop to get a demo. Or you can just use the below-mentioned instructions. Whatever your choice of learning, practice putting tire chains before you go.


How to put on tire chains

Follow these instructions to put on tire chains:

What you’ll need?

  • Chains that match your tire size
  • Safety gloves

Step-by-Step Guide on how to install snow chain

Step 1: Take out the chains from their packaging

Take out the chains from their packaging

There will be twists in the metal holding the chain in a U-shape inside its package. Untangle these links with your bare hands. The process can take ten minutes or more. It might take even longer if you haven’t done it before. That’s why we have recommended that you put your chains on before you need them.


Step 2: Lay the chains on the ground

Lay the chains on the ground

If you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, put the chains next to the front wheels. Put them next to the rear wheels if your vehicle is a rear-wheel drive. Lay the chains next to all the four wheels if your vehicle is an all-wheel or 4-wheel drive.


Step 3: Cover the tire with the chains

Cover the tire with the chains

After stopping your vehicle in ‘parking’ mode and turning on the emergency lights, start covering the tires with the chains. Make sure that the chain covers 3/4th of the tire. All the chains, including one that runs from side-to-side, should be straight.

Once you have covered the tire with chains, tuck their loose ends between the ground and the bottom of the tire. Then drive your vehicle forward to expose the unchained portion of the tire. Put chains on that area as well.


Step 4: Rotate the steering to turn the wheel inside

Rotate the steering to turn the wheel inside

This will give you better access to the chain links and make it easier for you to secure the chains to the tires. If you’re putting the chains on the right tire, turn the steering left to point the tire inwards. If you’re putting them on the left tire, turn the steering right.


Step 5: Connect the chains together

Connect the chains together

Tire chains come with hooked edges that you can connect to fit them snugly around the tire. Tighten the connection as snug as possible to get a secure fit. Make sure that the right and the left connections are aligned and equally tight. Otherwise the chain might get down from the side where the connection is loose.


Final Step: Drive 30m and retighten the chains

Drive 30m and retighten the chains

Once you have put your vehicle in motion, the chains might get loose. That’s why you must retighten the chains after a short drive. This will help them stay in place for the rest of your journey.


Tire chains are crucial for maintaining the vehicle’s grip on snow- and ice-laden roads. They provide the tires with friction which is the wet road no longer offers. In doing so, the tire chains help ensure the safety of your vehicle and its passengers.

What is more, installing the chains might look complicated on paper but it is effortless to execute. All you have to do is to put the chains over the tires, connect their links, drive the vehicle a few meters and re-tighten the chains. You’d be able to do all this in less than an hour in good weather.

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