Snow chains for tyres: when to use them and how to put them on
When should I use snow chains?
There is a common misconception in the UK that it is illegal to install snow chains on your tyres. While there are restrictions placed on the use of snow chains by UK law, they are legal to use under certain conditions. Firstly, you need to make sure that there is a thick enough layer of solid snow or ice before using them, otherwise the chain studs could damage the roads. They also need to be the right size and type for your vehicle.
They’re typically used in rural areas with colder climates, such as the Scottish Highlands. They can be added to winter or all-season tyres for extra grip in deep snow and icy road conditions. The chain studs allow the tyres to dig into snow and ice, increasing traction and reducing slipping.
Types of tyre chains for snow
There is a wide variety of snow chains for tyres available with different designs, constructions and link sizes. These are some of the most common types:
- Diamond tyre chains
These are the standard link chains that form a diamond pattern around the tyre. This type typically provides more traction than other types due to the increased contact surface. They can, however, be trickier to install.
- Cable tyre chains
Cable chains are lighter and more streamlined than D-link chains, though less suitable for deep, heavy snow/ice. The thin cables are easier to install, covering the circumference of the wheel. They’re also economical and designed to make it easier for the driver to brake.
- Manually tensioned
After mounting the chains to the tyres, you need to adjust the tension manually. These usually require regular readjustment, which can be quite inconvenient for longer journeys.
Chains with self-tensioning systems are easier to install and generally more convenient. They are the slightly more expensive option.
You can easily find the right ones for you at a fair price via our online catalogue, as well as other crucial winter accessories, such as an ice scraper for your car.
Snow chains size guide
To find the right snow chains for your car, you’ll first need to identify the size of your tyres.To do so, check the tyres’ sidewall markings. For example, it may look something like this: 205 / 60 R16 91V. The first three digits indicate the tyre’s width in millimetres. The following two digits are what is known as the aspect ratio which compares the section height of the tyre with its width. Finally, the next digits that come after the letter (e.g. R16) indicate the wheel rim diameter in inches. You can often compare this with the tyre codes listed in the product descriptions.
Alternatively, you can enter these details online or hand them to a shop assistant to find compatible products.
Another thing to consider is the minimum clearance required for using specific tyre chains. Some vehicles do not have enough clearance between the wheel well and the tyre, making the chains unsafe to use. Check the owner’s manual for any restrictions regarding snow chains.
Online shopping has made the hunt for compatible car parts much simpler. Nowadays, you only have to type “BMW snow chains” into Google and you’ll be shown endless streams of products. For more accurate results, enter the vehicle’s unique identification number on our shop website.
How to put on snow chains
How you mount the parts mostly depends on the specific product’s design. Please check the detailed instructions provided by the product manufacturer.
If it’s a rear-wheel drive, the chains have to be installed on the rear wheels, and for front-wheel drives, they go at the front. Once you have laid out the chains, centred them around the tyre and connected the fasteners, you will need to tighten them, unless they are self-tensioning chains. Then you can drive the vehicle slightly forward and tighten them one last time.
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