How to Put Snow Chains on Your Vehicle

Driving during winter months often means navigating snowy, icy roads that require snow tires or tire chains for traction. If you live in an area where the latter are required, you might find that applying them can be a challenge. And, all chains are not created to fit every make or model of vehicle.


Knowing how to properly put snow chains on your vehicle is essential for navigating roads covered in snow and ice. The process starts with choosing chains sized to fit your tires.


Keeping prefitted snow chains in your vehicle and knowing how to put them on will give you confidence when driving in inclement weather. Also, having certain accessories on hand can make the process more comfortable.

1. Buy Chains That Fit Your Tires

1. BUY CHAINS THAT FIT YOUR TIRES: Quick-fit chains are the simplest option. Check your owner’s manual for tire specs or look on the sidewalls of the tires. Purchase a pair of chains to fit your tires. In most cases, you’ll need chains on just two of your vehicle’s tires: on front tires for front- and all-wheel drive vehicles and on rear tires for rear-wheel drive.

2. Park in a Level, Safe Location

2. PARK IN  A LEVEL, SAFE LOCATION: If you’re driving and need to stop to put on chains, park in a flat location and turn on your hazard lights. When parking for the night when snow is possible, try to find a level area with room to pull forward. Be sure to leave space around your tires to create enough room to install the chains.

3. Carry Winter Accessories in Your Car

3. CARRY WINTER ACCESSORIES IN YOUR CAR: In case you’re forced to put chains on during heavy snowfall, carry a pair of gloves, winter boots, a hat and a tarp in your vehicle. Gloves keep your fingers warm while you’re applying the chains. The tarp serves as a place to position the chains and on which to sit.

4. Apply the Chains

4. APPLY THE CHAINS: Straighten your wheels and set your parking brake. Lay the chains out on a tarp, separating the pair. Drape the chains over your tires while tucking one end under the front of each wheel and letting the slack hang off the other end. Make sure your fastening system – whether comprising hooks, loops or clips – faces outward.

5. Drive Forward, Then Fasten the Chains

5. DRIVE FORWARD, THEN FASTEN THE CHAINS: Drive forward a couple of feet so the chains wrap around both tires with the loose ends free from the wheel. Pull the ends together and fasten them, tightening the chains as snuggly around the rubber as possible. They should resemble the photo when you’re done.

6. Drive Slowly, and Stay Alert

6. DRIVE SLOWLY, AND STAY ALERT: When driving with snow chains, keep your speed under 30 mph to avoid damaging the chains or your vehicle. Don’t brake suddenly, and stay alert, listening for any sound or sign that one of the chains has snapped. Don’t drive on bare pavement. Be sure to dry and inspect your chains afterward so they don’t rust.

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