How do I Choose the Best Tire Chains and Cables?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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In order to choose the best tire chains and cables for a particular application, it is necessary to identify the frequency of use of the items. Also important to the decision is the type of roads that will be most frequently traveled. The vehicle type and design intended to receive the tire chains and cables also factors into the equation. One of the most important factors to consider is the manner in which the tire chains and cables attach to the vehicle, as well as the level of difficulty in applying them. When you have explored all options, cost is typically the greatest factor to consider when choosing the best tire chains and cables for any application.

In many parts of the world, snow and ice are common factors in wintertime driving. In many mountainous areas, the roadways are often closed to any vehicle unequipped with either tire chains and cables on its drive axle. As with most safety items, the level of service provided by the component is equal to the level of skill the owner has in installing it. This is especially true when it comes to tire chains. Installed correctly, the device can aid traction in an amazingly drastic manner; however, improperly installed, the device cannot only hinder the vehicle's handling, but can damage the vehicle as well.


On a vehicle that will see only occasional wintertime driving, cables are often the best choice. These are easily installed and can be put on and removed in a matter of minutes by most novice installers. When the vehicle will be driven frequently in poor weather conditions, tire chains are commonly considered to be the best choice for traction. In either case, purchasing a set of tire chains and cables that fit the tires and the vehicle is important to get the best service from the vehicle. The chains should not fit extremely tight, yet they should not be loose. The best-fitting chains and cables will have just enough slack to allow them to move slightly off of the tire when driving the vehicle.

For vehicles operated on paved roads, plain chains and cables are sufficient in most cases. These are also the least expensive. When operating primarily on gravel roads, chains with cross bars welded to the links will give superior traction. Many types of tire chains and cables attach with soft rubber bungee-type straps while the better brands use a steel clasping mechanism that locks the component onto your tires. Stainless steel tire chains and cables are typically the most expensive, but they outlast most other material types, often making them the best value in the long run.


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