Snow chains or cables for semi-trucks. Choosing the best solution.

Traction is the key when you need to drive in winter conditions, so one of the most important things about winter driving is choosing the right traction solution and this is where the snow chains or cables represent the best answer for your security even though the roads are covered by a layer of ice.

To know which of these two products you should choose, you must consider several important factors, from the dimensions of the chains to the laws or restrictions that may apply in the state in which you live. Next we will guide you towards the correct choice.

Snow chains or cables for your semi-truck

Snow chains or cables for your semi-truck

 

Let’s talk a little about snow chains and cables:

What are snow chains?

Snow chains are appliances installed or attached to the tires of vehicles to improve traction when driving through snow and ice. They are installed mainly on the vehicle’s driving wheels and seem to provide more traction than snow cables and are preferably used for 2WD vehicles. You should check your vehicle’s manual to verify if there are no warnings about their use, and you should never go more than 30 miles per hour when you drive your truck.

What snow chains look like

What snow chains look like

Most of them are made of heavy and big steel links. Some cars and trucks have very little clearance between the tire and other internal parts so it could restrict your options to cables only. The models available are the following:

  • Thule XC12 Pro Deluxe
  • Security Chain Company Whitestar Alloy WS
  • Glacier Chains Light Truck V-Bar Twist Link Tire Chain
  • Glacier Chains Light Truck Twist Link Tire Chain
  • Glacier Chains Light Truck Square Link Chain
  • Thule XB16
  • Security Chain Company Quick Grip
  • Quality Chain Light Truck Highway Service Cam Style Chain
  • Quality Chain Commercial Truck Highway Service Cam Style Chain

 What are snow cables?

Snow cables are coverings that you can place on the wheels of your vehicle to get better traction and prevent getting stuck in the snow or the car sliding on the ice. In general terms, they offer less traction on snowy or icy surfaces compared to snow chains, and they are preferably used for 4WD vehicles.

What are snow cables for trucks

What are snow cables for trucks

They are suitable for vehicles with limited space between the tire and other internal parts. They have a lower profile compared to the snow chains, it allows a considerable reduction in noise and vibration, and otherwise, due to their lower durability, they are not suitable for daily use for long seasons.

The range of price of the cables is lower and may vary from $25 to $100.

Just like occurs with chains; you cannot drive them over 30 mph.

Here is a list of the different models of cables:

  • Security Chain Company Super Z6
  • Security Chain Company Super Z8
  • Security Chain Company Z-Chain Extreme Performance
  • Quality Chain Volt LT Light Trucks/SUV Premium Cable Chain
  • Quality Chain Volt Premium Commercial Truck Cable Chain
  • Security Chain Company Super Z LT
  • Quality Chain Cobra Light Truck Cable Chain
  • Glacier Chains Light Truck V-Trac Cable Tire Chain
  • Glacier Chains V-Trac Light Trucks Cable Tire Chain
  • Glacier Chains Light Trucks Cable Tire Chain

 What else can I use? (Recommended snow chains alternatives).

There are options besides snow chains or cables like winter tires with studs, snow socks or automatic tire chains system.

Tire studs are small metallic protuberances in the form of bolts or screws that are inserted in the tread of the tires to increase traction. Studded tires increased pavement wear and may decrease tire-road friction in non-icy road conditions.

Winter tires in snow socks

Winter tires in snow socks

Snow Socks are made in textile materials. They cover the tire and isolate it from snow, eliminating the film of water that is created between the tire and the road surface. They don’t damage aluminum rims and can be used in areas where snow chains or studs are prohibited, but they do not provide the same level of traction than the chains offer. 

What about law regulations?

 Each state of the American Union has established its own regulations on the use of snow chains or cables. Most states that are affected by strong winter conditions have established specific periods of the year during which these devices can be used.

In most cases, specific conditions are established, such as the types of vehicles that can use them (school buses, ambulances, mail vehicles, etc.), or according to the weight of the truck. In some states, specific restrictions apply in relation to the size of the chains and the use of studs. In any case, you should check with your state’s transportation department for specifics.

Comparison review: Snow cables VS Snow chains

Do you want some help to finally decide which product to buy, right? Next, we will evaluate the best sellers of each type:

For the cable chain family, we have the Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT Light Truck and SUV Tire Traction Chain – Set of 2.

Item Dimensions: 17.7 x 7.8 x 7.7 in

Size: ZT741

What cars fit: Preferably used for 4WD vehicles.

Pros / Cons:

  • Easy installation.
  • Built-in rubber tensioner. There is no need to stop and retighten after installation.
  • Excellent traction performance.
  • Great durability.
  • Compatibility with anti-lock brakes, and traction control systems.
  • Meet class ‘S’ clearance requirements.
  • Low potential for damage to vehicle body and mechanical components.

Assigned Score: 9/10.

Check the actual price and sizes on Amazon.com.

And for the chains we present: Peerless 0232805 Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain – Set of 2 

Item Dimensions: 11.8 x 11.7 x 3.3 in

Size: Series 2300 – 232105

What cars fit: Often used for 2WD vehicles.

Pros / Cons:

  • Provides excellent traction performance and smooth ride.
  • Meet class ‘S’ clearance requirements.
  • Easy installation and removal in minutes. You can be stuck and put them on.
  • Has a rattle mechanism that could fail, especially if the chain does not fit the tire properly. To avoid the chain to flop around, be sure to choose the chain that fit your tires by consulting the manufacturer.

Assigned Score: 7/10.

Check the actual price and sizes on Amazon.com.

And the winner is… (What is really the best?)

Moment to decide between snow chains or cables has arrived. Since there is virtually no difference in terms of price and durability among the compared models, the choice depends on which of them best suits for both; your vehicle and the climatic conditions you may face in the routes you will frequent. Between the two options already shown, what makes the balance tilt in favor of the Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT model is the greater reliability of the tensioners, which guarantees a better adjustment of the cable to the tires and that your mind can be calm during the trip.

We definitely take the ZT741 Super Z LT, so if you were thinking about acquiring one of these implements, you already have a choice.

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