You should always have snow chains in your car in winter. Never heard of snow chains? Snow chains are what you use when your winter tyres are no longer adequate. These chains are a great help when you want to drive comfortably on snow, ice or slush.
In our snow chain test 2021 we want to help you find the right snow chains for your car. We have listed decisive purchasing criteria for you and compared different types of snow chains. Finally, we answer any questions you may have had about snow chains. Your decision will be much easier after reading this!
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Snow chains: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for snow chains
- 5 Decision: What types of snow chains are there and which are right for you?
- 6 Guide: Frequently asked questions about snow chains answered in detail
The most important facts
- Snow chains are a valuable aid when you want to drive your car on ice or snow. In some countries it is even compulsory to use snow chains.
- There are three types of snow chains: cable chains, automatic ring chains and comfort chains. Choosing the right chains depends on the size of your car and your tyres.
- Two snow chains are enough for your car. However, you should always practise fitting them before you use them.
The Best Snow chains: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for snow chains
When buying snow chains, you should pay attention to certain criteria. The criteria you can use to compare snow chains include:
In the following paragraphs we explain these criteria in more detail.
The first thing you should consider when buying snow chains is the mounting system. As you can guess: All snow chains are not mounted in the same way. In addition, not all snow chains are necessarily suitable for your car.
We have distinguished 3 types of mounting systems for you:
|Rope chains||In this system, the chain net hangs on a steel rope that can be locked. During mounting, the snow chain is placed around the tyre and the steel cable is locked above the tyre. This type of chain can be mounted standing up. However, you need enough space between the tyre and the wheel housing to be able to close the steel cable at all.|
|Ring automatic chains||With this mounting system there is no steel cable to open and close again. The ring on the cable can only be pulled apart, which allows it to be fitted in narrower wheel housings. To mount the chain, you only need to pull the ring apart and position it correctly from above. However, this mounting is not possible when the vehicle is stationary.|
|Comfort snow chains||Comfort snow chains should be fixed to a wheel nut. The fixation is done by a locking pin that is attached to both the wheel nut and the snow chain. Also with this mounting system, the mounting cannot be done standing still, but the car must be moved briefly.|
Now you know the difference between the 3 main mounting systems. Also remember that your choice should depend on your car. Comfort snow chains and rope chains are basically suitable for all cars. Ring chains are best suited for cars with little space between tyre and wheel arch.
Size of snow chains
Choosing the right size is of paramount importance when it comes to snow chains. Why? Snow chains that are too small cannot be fitted, and snow chains that are too large bring with them the risk of damage to the car or an accident.
For this reason, snow chains should be chosen according to the tyre size of the car. Keep in mind that we are talking about winter tyres here.
You can determine your tyre size with this information:
[Reifenbreite in mm] / [Verhältnis zwischen Reifenbreite und -Hohe in %] [Reifenart] [Größe der Felge in Zoll]
Another small hint: The type of tyre is indicated by letters. For example, the tyre type "R" means that it is a radial tyre.
For additional information, you can also find comparison and sizing charts from different manufacturers on the internet.
Now that you know the size of your tyres, you should have no problem finding the right snow chains.
Not all snow chains have the same structure, and you should take this into account when making your purchase.
We distinguish between drive chains and track chains:
- Drive chains: With these snow chains, the chain links are perpendicular to your direction of travel. These snow chains are fitted to the rear of the car.
- Track chains: With these snow chains, the chain links lie lengthways to the direction of travel. In contrast to drive chains, track chains should be fitted to the front tyres.
However, most snow chains are a mixture of drive and track chains, which should make choosing your snow chains a little easier.
Snow chains with Y structure combine the properties of drive and track chains.
First of all, the thickness of your snow chains should play a role in your choice.
The thickness of snow chains is given in millimetres and usually varies between 7 and 15 mm.
Snow chains that are over 15 mm thick are intended for vehicles such as trucks. So look for a size below 15 mm.
If you have a large and heavy car, or if you use snow chains often, we definitely recommend that you buy strong snow chains.
Standards and guidelines can change from country to country. If you plan to travel, be careful not to break any laws - you don't want to be penalised.
Instructions and regulations can be found in the "Straßenverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung".
In Germany there is no obligation to use snow chains. However, there are legal instructions for their use.
In countries such as Austria, there are stricter standards for snow chains. If you plan to drive to such countries often, we recommend that you pay attention to these standards. In this case, you can purchase snow chains that comply with the standards of these countries.
Decision: What types of snow chains are there and which are right for you?
As mentioned in the buying criteria section, there are two types of snow chains: track chains and drive chains.
|Drive chains||The chain links lie across the direction of travel.|
|Track chains||the chain links lie along the direction of travel.|
In the following paragraphs we briefly explain again what is important for each type.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about snow chains answered in detail
Who are snow chains suitable for?
Of course, you may prefer one type or another. If you have a heavy car, then thick snow chains are better. If your car doesn't have much space between the tyres and the wheel arches, then ring automatic chains are better.
In the end, it all depends on your car and its needs.
Why do you need snow chains?
However, snow chains are not a substitute for winter tyres, but an additional piece of equipment for your car.
What size snow chains should I buy?
Choosing the right size is definitely important: you won't be able to fit snow chains that are too small on your car.
You will definitely be able to fit snow chains that are too big. But that doesn't mean you're out of danger. They could damage your car. Much worse, they could lead to an accident. So be careful and use your tyre size as a guide.
You can also find size charts from the various manufacturers on the Internet.
What are the alternatives to snow chains?
Textile snow chains: These "snow chains" are made of textile (polyester) or composite material. These chains suck the water off the ground and thus cause a better grip.
You can also find hybrid snow chains, a mixture of steel and textile snow chains. These snow chains offer you the advantages of both steel and textile snow chains. They can also be used on roads where chains are compulsory.
Spray-on snow chains: This is a simple liquid that you spray on the tyre and leave to dry for a few minutes.
How do I fit my snow chains?
When fitting, the snow chain is placed around the tyre and the steel cable is closed above the tyre. This type of chain can actually be mounted standing up, but you should still practise mounting it if possible.
Here, the ring on the rope can be pulled apart, which also allows mounting in narrower wheel housings. To fit the chain, pull the ring apart and position it correctly from above.
With comfort chains, the chain is fixed by attaching a locking pin to the wheel nut.
How do I care for snow chains?
- Hang up the snow chains: First hang up the snow chains so that you can clean them thoroughly.
- Rinse snow chains: First rinse your snow chains with lukewarm water.
- Dry snow chains (thoroughly): As a final cut, simply rub your snow chains with a rag to prevent rust.
You have already cleaned your snow chains in three steps; they are now ready for the next use.
Are snow chains compulsory in Germany?
- When driving, you must not exceed the speed limit of 50 km/h.
- If you are driving on a stretch of road where there is a traffic sign for snow chains, you should equip your car with snow chains accordingly.
- And of course, your snow chains should not damage the roads.
Now you know exactly how and what you have to observe with snow chains.
Image source: Moravcik / 123rf.com