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Tire Chains Provide Traction In The Worst Winter Weather

Snowplows, emergency vehicles, and mail trucks wear tire chains in bad weather because they can't afford to get stuck. We discuss easy-to-install chains for your vehicle.
Tire Chains Provide Traction In The Worst Winter Weather
Thule Chain Tire

Videos on the internet from all across the world can be found that show cars and trucks sliding out of control on icy roads. While these clips are sometimes entertaining to watch, there's nothing funny about driving in terrible weather conditions. If you live in a heavily populated area, sliding into a series of parked cars can cost a lot of money. And you know that sliding off the road can slide you right into real trouble - costing property damage and personal injury.

Very rarely does a vehicle equipped with tire chains slide on ice, and the extra bite chains provide allow wheels to grip and push a vehicle forward instead of spinning uselessly. There's a reason mail trucks and emergency vehicles are fitted with chains in bad weather. They can't afford to get stuck, and tire chains ensure they won't.

Let's not forget the fact that there are locales in the U.S. which require the use of snow chains when weather conditions demand it. It's at the discretion of local law enforcement, but, carrying a set of chains could make the difference between reaching your destination or facing a hefty moving violation.

In the scope of this article, we'll cover the styles of tire chains available for sale in the Snow Tire Chains section of our website. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you see how easy they are to install using basic steps that don't involve getting dirty or stopping to adjust the chains. We've got tire chains that wrap heavily around the sidewalls for use off-road, and we've got low-profile tire chains designed specifically for vehicles without much clearance in the wheel wells. These chain sets are compatible with modern ABS and traction control systems. Many of them are provided with a handy storage bag that opens up and doubles as a kneeling pad to be used during installation.

Tire Chains
Tire Chains
Rigid Arch Tire Chains
Tire chains we sell all feature an elastic "rigid arch" section that centers and tightens the chain assembly.
Ratcheting Handle
An example of a tire chain's built-in ratcheting handle.

Most of the tire chains we offer provide a built-in handle that serves as a ratcheting system similar to a spare tire jack, with a safety feature that prevents it from opening unintentionally. Because of the handle's ability to multiply tensioning force, fitting and tightening these chains is effortless. All of the tire chains discussed below feature a circular elastic "rigid arch" section that slips easily over the inner sidewall without requiring a deep reach into the wheel well.

Once the vehicle starts moving, these rigid arches center the chain assembly completely around the tire, and self-tensioning hardware automatically creates tightness to keep things properly snugged. And you won't have to worry about damage to expensive wheels; these chains either don't come into contact with the wheel at all, or they are equipped with nylon pads to prevent metal-on-metal contact.

Easy On & Off Tire Chains For Traditional Passenger Cars

The Thule Easy-Fit CU-9 tire chain is designed to provide some wraparound on both sides, quick installation, an exact fit, and tensioning with the least amount of physical effort. Wraparound on both sides is usually not synonymous with easy installation, but a circular elastic "rigid arch" section slips easily over the inner sidewall to make it possible. Once the entire assembly is draped over the front of the tire and wheel, a built-in pedal is pushed downward along its track by your foot. This action tensions and centers the chain assembly on the front and it tightens up the elastic rigid arch that's providing tension on the inside of the tire. The rigid arch will fully center the chains over the tread area very quickly once the vehicle starts moving.

The Easy Fit CU-9
The Thule Easy-Fit CU-9 tire chain.
The Easy Fit CS-10
The Thule CS-10 Easy Fit Tire Chain.

The CS-10 Easy Fit tire chain supplies equal wraparound security for your tire. After slipping the rigid arch section over the inner sidewall, two cables across the front are connected together - one elastic, one non-elastic. Chains are removed by taking a special handle that's included and using it to release a fitted section on top of the chain. Similar to the CU-9 above, the rigid arch will center the chains quickly when the wheel starts turning.

The Thule K-Summit Tire Chain is the chain to use if you have little or no clearance between the tire and any mechanical components like brake or suspension parts. It accomplishes this by encircling the outer, treaded circumference of the tire only. Lay the chains on top of the tire, then attach the center piece to one of your vehicle's existing lug nuts or bolts (neither the lug nuts/bolts nor wheel need to be removed for this). Pump the handle on the center assembly back and forth to create tension on all sections of the chain equally. After a small amount of driving at slow speeds, the chain will center itself onto the treaded area of your tire, and it will self-tension as well.

The K-Summit Easy Fit Tire ?hain
The Thule K-Summit Tire Chain.

Easy On & Off Tire Chains For SUVs And Pickup Trucks

If you've got an SUV or pickup, Thule’s K-Summit XL and XXL provide all the benefits of the K-Summit in larger diameter sizes, with wider chain coverage. If you'll be off-roading, the XG-12 and XB-16 tire chains are designed for full wraparound coverage and have crisscrossing chain patterns that give you the bigger tread bite you need. The XG-12 is designed to self-tension and self-center with a "rigid arch" section over the inner sidewall. Two cables across the front are hooked together, and quick removal is easy with a special handle piece included with the kit.

Climate Control Unit
The Thule XG-12 Tire Chain.
Dorman Offers Remanufactured Climate Control Units
The Thule XB-16 Tire Chain.

For more serious off-roading on 4x4s that have full factory wheel clearance, the XB-16 chains provide the most wraparound on inner and outer sidewalls of the tires, giving you deep bite to escape heavy muck. After sliding the rigid arch section over the inner sidewall, chains in the front attach via hooks and a buckle. Unlike the other chains in this section, the XB-16 does not feature self-tensioning or centering - so two stops will be required for manual adjustment. Because this chain set is designed for drivers who get deep into it, the kit even comes with a set of plastic gloves to make installation easier.

To help guide you through the selection we offer, we have set up the Snow Tire Chains section of our website to provide as much information as possible. After entering year, make, and model for your vehicle in the "Product Options" field of the chains you've chosen, you will select your appropriate front and/or rear tire sizes. (To ensure a perfect fit, you'll need to know the exact size measurements of the tires on your vehicle. This can be found on the sidewall of your tires (look for a number that reads "205/70R15", for example).

Even if it's not snowing at this moment where you live, you owe it to yourself and the safety of your traveling companions to carry a set of snow chains with you. Snow happens! Sometimes when we least expect it. Be prepared, be safe, and you will be certain to reach your destination.

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