Choosing the best tire chains for snow and ice

What is the best tire chains for snow and ice? That was the topic of a conversation between relatives and friends during last winter holidays. A friend of mine, a veteran truck driver, offered us all his experience to help us find the answer.

The best tire chains for snow and ice

The best tire chains for snow and ice

Different types of snow chains

It is important to know the snow chain types and their characteristics, to choose the ideal device for your needs.

There are several types of tire chains:

  • Snow cables:
    Generally, they offer less traction compared to tire chains, that’s the reason why they’re preferably used by 4WD vehicles.
    They are suitable for vehicles with limited space between the tire and other internal parts because of their lower profile. They also produce much lower levels of noise and vibrations. On the other hand, they have lower durability, and they are not suitable for daily use during long seasons.
  • Composite chains:
    Composite chains are nets that cover both the rim and the tire. They have a rubber that fixes them to the rim and a net of links that cover the tire formed by plastic cables covered with textile material.
    They work fine on both snow and ice, they are quite durable, and placing them is relatively easy. These chains allow smooth driving since they hardly generate vibrations. The stability and traction control also works without problems. Its biggest drawbacks are their cost which can go from 80 to 120 dollars a pair and they’re not enough resistant to heavy-duty off-road conditions.
  • Spider-type chains:
    They consist of a disc that is placed on the rim fixed to the screws of it and the chain itself which can be like a caterpillar with rigid transverse bands. Their placement is very fast, and they work very well on snow and ice, but they are also the most expensive on the market (about 480 dollars per pair). These chains are suitable for frequent use and in very adverse conditions.

What to consider, when choosing tire chains?

To purchase the best tire chains for snow and ice take into account the following factors:

  1. Fitting to the wheel: The size of the tire chain should be adjusted to the size of your tires. If the chains are very large, the necessary traction will be unachieved and the links could hit the suspension system and the brakes of your car. Otherwise, if the size is very small, the chains will not cover the wheel.
  2. Clearance: Is your car suitable for chains? It depends on the clearance between the wheel and internal parts like suspension, undercarriage, and brakes. The owner’s manual or customer service of your car should provide specifications about it.
  3. Installation: It is also important to buy chains that can be installed quickly. Remember that on more than one occasion you will have to get out of your car to place them in the middle of the road under snow and freezing temperatures.
    The chains manufacturer should provide a good instruction manual that clearly explains how to fit them to the tires.
  4. The terrain: You should be well informed about the terrain conditions in which you will ride. This will influence the link pattern that your snow chains should have.
    If you will need to drive on the ground, select a diagonal link. If durability and grip are important then take the chains with square links, and if you have to drive off-road ladder-like links are the best choice.
  5. Durability: The best tire chains should keep on in their top condition through years even if it is used frequently, they should be unlikely to wear and tear. Otherwise, you will be spending money frequently, and your safety will be compromised.
  6. Laws and regulations: Before buying your new pair chains, make sure under what conditions they’re required or not by local authorities. In general, the transit authorities demand to take them in their vehicle when there are adverse weather conditions. Each state of the American union establishes its own norms.
  7. Every day or Emergency use? The rate of use is another aspect to contemplate. Maybe you just want to buy some tire chains to use in a timely manner just to get out of emergency situations.  For those cases exists emergency tire chains. They are more robust and are designed with a higher profile to get your car out of a stuck. If this is not your case, maybe you prefer to choose tire chains intended for daily use.
  8. Price: You should not be tempted to choose a tire chain only on the basis of the price. Quality should prevail over cost. Don’t forget it is about your security.

What tire chains are best?

There is a wide variety of tire chains in the market. To help you select the best tire chains for snow and ice we’ll show some best sellers’ product reviews below:

1- Trac-Grabber – Snow, Mud, and Sand Tire Traction

Item weight: 4.67 pounds
Item Dimensions: 10.25 x 5.5 x 4.25 inches.

Pros and Cons:

  • Designed to get your car unstuck from difficult terrain conditions
  • It’s easy to install, you can use the adjustable straps to attach the Trac Grabber to each drive wheel
  • This device is suitable for vehicles with off-road tires with more than a 40” girth.
  • It’s constructed with tough and durable rubber.
  •  Reusable and portable
  •  No risk of damage to your tires.
  • These chains are suitable just for off-road vehicles with oversized tires

Score Assigned: 6/10

2- Zone Tech Car Snow Chains:

Item weight: 5.95 ponds
Item Dimensions: 17 x 12.5 x 3.9 inches.

Pros and Cons:

  • High performance in a variety of surfaces like sand, mud, snow, and ice and inclusive in climbing situations
  • High durability. It is constructed out of premium steel, steel studs, and an aluminum alloy fastener.
  • Easy to install and safe to use. It can be fitted in minutes, without the jack or without moving the car.
  • The closing mechanism tends to break easily. Not for off-road terrains.

Score Assigned: 6/10

3- Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain:

Item weight: 1 pound
Item Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 18 inches.

Pros and Cons:

  • Designed for cars with limited clearance around the drive tires.
  • Fast and easy installation. You won’t have to move the vehicle to place them.
  • You don’t have to stop and retighten after installation thanks to its rubber tensioners.
  • Better traction performance than conventional tire chains or cables.
  • Compatible with anti-lock brakes and other traction control systems.
  • Tensioners can break so you should include extra tensioners in your buy.
  • The connectors are harder to work with because of their low profile.
  • Comes with a cloth bag sized properly to hold the cables.
  • The biggest issue is this chain gets very close to the strut and the brakes on the inside of the wheel, so it’s important to install them correctly.

Score Assigned: 8/10

4- Security Chain Company SC1032 Radial Chain Cable:

Item weight: 5.6 pounds
Item Dimensions: 14 x 7.9 x 4.6 inches.

Pros and Cons:

  • Requires few spaces around the tire
  •  Simple mounting and removal thanks to their low weight.
  • Improves starting, stopping, and cornering performance.
  • Made of stainless steel for long durability.
  • Allows smooth driving.
  • It’s very important to install them correctly to avoid readjusting them after placing them. Check the user manual. You should not go over 30 miles per hour.
  • Intended for paved roads. Not for gravel because this type of surface quickly degrades metal links. They’re not heavy-duty chains.
  • They tend to produce slips when driving uphill.

Score Assigned: 6/10

5- Peerless 0232405 Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain:

Item weight: 13.5 pounds
Item Dimensions: 11.6 x 11.3 x 3 inches.

Pros and Cons:

  • Self-tightening ratchets offer automatic tightening and centering.
  • Easy installation and removal.
  • Diamond pattern affords a smooth ride and great traction
  •  Meet class ‘S’ clearance specifications.
  • You must not go over 30 MPH with these chains on
  • Accepted by most of the local transit authorities.
  • Be sure which size fit your tires. Correct performance depends on it. They can damage the vehicle if they’re incorrectly fitted.

Score Assigned: 9/10

6- Fun-Driving 8 Pack Tire Chains:

Item weight: 9.28 pounds
Item Dimensions: The whole package measures 13.8 x 11.7 x 2.8 inches.

Pros and Cons:

  • Can be used in all weather and all types of terrain.
  • They can be easily adjusted to the tires.
  • They’re made from welded iron coated with Zinc to prevent rust. They’re appropriate for heavy duty and are more durable.
  • Only applicable to vehicles with a tire width of 205mm. to 275 mm./8-10.8”. Suitable for SUVs, RV, ATVs, Trucks, and Buses.
  • Requires using the ratchet roll to tight and loose chains quickly.
  • The Ratchet roll is covered with a protective shell to avoid rim scratches.
  • Installing the 8 chains may take some time.

Score Assigned: 6/10

7- Security Chain Company Share QG2228CAM:

Item weight: 29 pounds
Item Dimensions: 12.5 x 9.4 x 6.5 inches.

Pros and Cons:

  • Provided with 4 easy to use cams to keep the chains tight on the wheels.
  • Comes with the cam tool and step-by-step instructions for easy installation.
  • It’s desirable to buy an extra chain tensioner to maximize performance.
  • Provides optimal traction to your vehicle.
  • Suitable for light trucks, pick-ups, and SUVs.
  • Heavier than other types of tire chains.

Score Assigned: 8/10

8- Spikes-Spider 14.521 SPXL Sport Series:

Item weight: 24 pounds
Item Dimensions: The package measures 26 x 25 x 9 inches.

Pros and Cons:

  •  It has 4 traction arms made of resistant polymer materials with tungsten carbide studs embedded.
  • Provide maximum traction in ice, snow, and or mud-covered roads even as deeper than 5″- 6″ deep.
  • To be used on FWD, RWD, AWD cars, minivans, small SUVs, and small pickups with tire widths of 235 mm or less.
  • Suitable for use in hilly areas and on steep grades.
  • Easy to install or remove in minutes.
  • Its frequent use in mountainous areas and on steep slopes can break the plastic arms quickly.

Score Assigned: 7/10


Do I need snow chains for all four tires?

Snow chains tend to provide better traction in general conditions. They are installed mainly on the vehicle’s driving wheels and are preferably used for 2WD vehicles.

What are better snow chains or cables?

It depends on the clearance between the interior side of the wheel and inner parts like suspension, undercarriage, and brakes. With snow chains, you get better traction, but they’re right for cars with enough clearance. Snow cables need a lower space but they’re usually not so robust and offer a lower grip.

Are snow chains bad for tires?

If you choose the correct size for your tires, and the right model for the type of road you will ride and install them properly, they shouldn’t cause any damage to your tires.

How fast can you drive with chains on your tires?

You should never go more than 30 MPH when riding with any of these implements placed. This applies to any surface.


All the products shown above have great features, but definitely, the Peerless 0232405 Auto-Trac Light Truck / SUV Tire Traction Chains has won first place for the best tire chains for snow and ice. They offer the best performance in security, durability, fitting to the wheels, ease of installation, and follow the regulations of the traffic authorities.
Thanks to these tips my relatives and friends already know what they should buy for next winter holidays trips.

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