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LAST UPDATED: April 24, 2019

Best Tire Chains For Snow: Stay Gripped to the Road with These Top Chains

Maneuver a little easier in the snow and ice with these top snow chains

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PUBLISHED ON April 24, 2019

Heavy snow and icy roads can be difficult to travel on during the winter. One of the best ways to safely drive in these conditions is by using tires equipped with snow chains. They will enable you to tackle winter roads more safely and effectively. Check out our  buying guide for the best snow chains available.

  • Best Overall
    Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT Traction Chain
    Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT Traction Chain
    Summary
    Summary
    These chains feature a built-in rubber tensioner and are compatible with anti-lock brakes, traction control, all-wheel drive (AWD), and other electronic systems. They meet S.A.E. Class “S” clearance requirements.
    Pros
    Pros
    These chains are durable, easy to use and provide great traction. They remain tight and don't make excessive noise.  One major benefit is you can install them without moving your car.
    Cons
    Cons
    The chains tangle easily, and you may have to untangle them when you receive them from the manufacturer. Some complaint they break or snap with use.
  • Best Overall
    Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT Traction Chain
    Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT Traction Chain
  • Best Value
    Security Chain Company SZ127 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain
    Security Chain Company SZ127 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain
    Summary
    Summary
    These cable chains for cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs weigh five pounds. The self-adjusting cable is designed for vehicles with little sidewall clearance. They come with a cloth bag for storage.
    Pros
    Pros
    These durable chains work well on snow/ice covered roads, and they grip exceptionally well. They are simple to install and include rubber strap tensioners to help pull the chains tight.
    Cons
    Cons
    The connectors are a little hard to work with. There have been complaints about improper fit, and you may need an additional set of rubber tensioners because they may fail.
  • Best Value
    Security Chain Company SZ127 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain
    Security Chain Company SZ127 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain
  • Honorable Mention
    Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains
    Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains
    Summary
    Summary
    These passenger cable chains are designed for durability, stability, and optimal traction. They reduce noise and vibration and function well on vehicles with minimal clearance and OEM tires with high tread.
    Pros
    Pros
    The chains come in a plastic storage case and are galvanized for rust protection. They are easy to install and uninstall, and they grip the road really well.
    Cons
    Cons
    The rubber adjusters are sold separately, which drives up the price. The sizing chart may be inaccurate, and some users report they break prematurely.
  • Honorable Mention
    Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains
    Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains

    Heavy snow and icy roads can be difficult to travel on during the winter. One of the best ways to safely drive in these conditions is by using tires equipped with snow chains. They will enable you to tackle winter roads more safely and effectively. Check out our  buying guide for the best snow chains available.

    Best Tire Chains for Snow Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    These tire traction chains are designed for SUVs and pick-up trucks with ABS, AWD, and anti-lock brakes. This set of two chains features built-in rubber tensioners that don't need to be tightened after installation. They are designed to provide better traction and are more durable than standard tire chains and cables.


    The chains are fast and easy to install. You do not have to lay them out and drive your vehicle over them, and you can install them without moving your vehicle. They work on vehicles with limited clearance, and there's very little chance that they will damage your vehicle's body or mechanical components. They are also compatible with various electronically monitored systems.


    One problem with these chains is the material is fragile, and the hooks are prone to breaking. Some users have also complained that they can be challenging to remove off the tires.

    Best Value

    These cable tire chains are intended for passenger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. The product comes with a set of two tire chains, which are easy to install. They weigh five pounds and are 16.8 inches by 5.4 inches by 5.3 inches wide. The self-adjusting cable is designed for vehicles with little sidewall clearance. The Z6 model comes with a cloth bag to store the cables.


    The cable chains work nicely on snow and ice covered roads, and they grip exceptionally well. The installation is very straight forward -- the chains lock and unlock in three locations so it's simple and doesn't take much time to put them on. Removing them is just as easy.  In addition, the chains are durable and can be reused several times. The included rubber strap tensioners help to pull the chains tight.


    The connectors are a little hard to work with because of their low profile. There have been some complaints about improper fit, so be sure to check the SCC recommended sizes to ensure that they are intended for your vehicle model.  You may need to purchase an additional set of rubber tensioners because they may fail.

    Honorable Mention

    Cobra's passenger cable chains provide SAE Class S clearance. Their low-profile carbon steel rollers are designed for durability, stability, and optimal traction. They also are constructed to reduce noise and vibration. The Cobra chains can be used on vehicles with minimal clearance and OEM tires with high tread.


    The Cobra chains are galvanized to prevent rust and come in a handy plastic storage case. They are simple to install and remove, and you don't have to roll your car back and forth during installation. Overall, they hold up well over time, grip well, and pack up easily.


    One downside to these chains is that the rubber adjusters, which the company recommends using, are sold separately. Also, the sizing chart may be incorrect, and the chains may break after a short period of use.

    Honorable Mention

    These SAE Class S chains are designed for passenger cars. They are ladder-style cable chains with carbon steel rollers for better traction and durability. Vehicles with limited clearance and either front- or rear-wheel drive can use these chains, which have an electro-galvanized coating for rust protection.


    The low-profile steel rollers provide increased tire-to-road contact, which increases stability and reduces noise and vibration. They are easy to install, will not void your vehicle's warranty, do not get loose, and do not damage your vehicle. Overall, they are well-made and help with things such as driving up a steep driveway after a snowstorm.


    On the downside, they may not provide as much traction as products with a diamond pattern. They are also meant for light use and can fail in conditions beyond their capacity. In addition, they're not always easy to adjust.

    Honorable Mention

    These tire chains from Peerless are a great economical option. They come with self-tightening ratchets that automatically tighten and center the chains. They feature a diamond-pattern cross chain, which improves traction and makes driving more smooth. Compared to a large-linked radial chain, riding on these is much more comfortable.


    These chains meet class S clearance requirements, and installation and removal are simple and take only a few minutes. They are made of manganese alloy steel, which makes them quite light. They are also a true D-chain link product, which produces a better bite than wire-type chains.


    One problem with these chains is that they are not suitable for large tires. Some users have also complained that the sizing chart is not accurate. Also, you can't go faster than 30 miles per hour with these chains on your vehicle.

    Honorable Mention

    Konig's CB-12 100 tire chains feature a simple yet reliable manual tensioning system. They have 12 mm inside and on-the-tread clearance and are Ö-Norm 5117, UNI 11313 and TÜV certified. You can install these chains without removing the tires or jacking up your vehicle.


    It takes just minutes to install these chains on two wheels. They enable you to easily drive up long, steep, icy, and snowy hills, and they come with a little plastic mat to protect your knees from the snow. They are smooth on the snow and aren't too bumpy on asphalt. You also don't have to get out of your car to tighten them, which you have to do with some cheaper generic brands.


    However, these chains do not meet Class S requirements. They also only fit on some cars and trucks, but not all, including some makes and models that are advertised. They may also fail after a short period of use.

    Why Trust Us


    All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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    Benefits of Tire Chains for Snow

    • Better traction. The best tire chains for SUVs and cars are designed to work in heavy snow and conditions involving ice. They provide significantly better traction on ice than standard tires.
    • More turning power. It's sometimes difficult to navigate turns in the snow. The best tire chains for snow and ice give you more traction when you're driving into and out of a turn.
    • Drive faster. The best tire chains for deep snow allow you to drive faster than you would if you have regular tires on your vehicle. When you encounter bad winter weather, tire chains can make a huge difference.

    Types of Snow Chains

    Tire Chains

    The most well-known snow chains are metal chain links that are connected together to create a mesh that wraps around a tire. Metal chains offer good traction, tend to last a bit longer than other chains, and are ideal if you use them frequently. They are less likely to corrode than cable chains.

    Tire Cables

    Cable chains are made from pieces of steel cable that create a webbing to cover a tire. They often feature small metal rings on the cables for better grip and are typically lighter and smaller with a lower profile than metal chains. They are good for occasional use but offer less traction than metal chains.

    Top Brands of Snow Chains 

    Konig American

    Konig American, a subsidiary of YHI International, has been producing aftermarket wheels for 35 years. With offices on both the West and East coasts, one of its popular tire chains are the KONIG CB-12 090 Snow Chains.

    Peerless Industrial Group

    Peerless Industrial Group, headquartered in Winona, Minnesota, produces several winter traction products under the name Security Chain Company. The company also provides chains for other purposes. One popular snow chain is the Security Chain Company SZ441 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain.

    Thule

    Thule was founded in Sweden in 1942 and has over 2,200 employees at more than 40 locations worldwide. One of its snow chain products is the Thule CG-9 095 2-Piece Snow Chain Set.

    Snow Chain Pricing

    • Around $40: There are a select few cables and chains that cost $40 or so. They tend to require manual installation and may not be as durable as more expensive products.
    • $40-$100: Semi-auto or "assisted" fitting snow chains will cost between $60 and $80, while self-centering chains with auto-tensioning will be a little bit more expensive for an average passenger vehicle.
    • Over $100: Snow chains for SUVs and pickup trucks tend to be pricier because they are bigger. Light trucks require even more heavy-duty chains, which can cost as much as $200.

    Key Features 

    Self-Tensioning

    Chains and cables that are self-tensioning are useful because a ratchet tightens the chains when the tires move, which removes any slack. Too much slack will reduce performance. Also, if the chain isn't tight enough, it can be damaged. Manual tensioning cables must be re-tightened after you drive (but they tend to be easier to install). The tensioners on self-adjusting cables can fail, so you may want to stock up on extra tensioners.

    Automatic Release

    Some of the best chains for snow will have an automatic release feature. It's beneficial because it makes removal easier. If you're driving a long distance, you may encounter snow on and off during your trip. The automatic release allows you to remove the chains quickly and easily within a few minutes.

    Classification

    The best snow chains for trucks and the best tire chains for cars are classified in four ways: entry level, premium, standard, and alternative traction. Entry-level chains are for a little bit of snow and ice. Standard chains are ideal for drivers who live in areas with a regular amount of snowfall. Premium chains are good for extra-snowy areas and help vehicles stop on icy surfaces. Alternative-traction chains are intended for cars with low-profile tires.

    Link Patterns

    Tire chains come in diamond, diagonal, ladder, and square patterns. Diamond-shaped chains are good for vehicles with anti-lock braking systems. Diagonal chains are intended to provide traction on snow and ice and are best for vehicles that have traction control and ABS. Square chains are more durable and provide better traction than diamond chains. Ladder chains have two designs: one for on- and off-road driving and one for snow and ice only.

    Other Considerations

    • Size: Check your tire's width, height, and diameter before purchasing snow chains for your vehicle. The size of the snow chain is crucial because you want to ensure that it fits properly and isn't too large or too small for your tires. The wrong size will only cause frustration and inefficiency.
    • Clearance: This is the distance between the tire and the body of the vehicle. Some of the best tire cables are thick and durable. The thicker they are, the higher the clearance. Snow chains need to be able to move with the tire without hitting the body of the vehicle.
    • Category: For a passenger car, select snow chains that are rated SAE Class S. This means they are intended for newer, front-wheel drive vehicles and lower ground clearances. Chains with other designations are for higher ground clearance. They will not work properly on your daily driver and could damage it.
    • Material: Rubber chains do not damage roads, and they don't typically damage a vehicle. They often feature metal fasteners and can work on both trucks and passenger vehicles. Rubber chains aren't slippery; however, they may reduce clearance. Metal chains tend to give drivers more control but they can damage roads.
    • Installation: The most popular snow chains are those that are easier to install. They typically include clamp-on installation, which usually involves automatic chain tensioning as mentioned above. Another type allows you to drape the snow chain over the tire. It does not require connections but may not work as well as clamp-on chains.
    • Weight: Some snow chains are lighter than others. The heavier ones are typically better in difficult snow conditions but won't be as good on fuel economy. In addition, heavier chains are less convenient to store or transport in your vehicle. If you keep them in your garage, this may not be a problem.

    Best Tire Chains for Snow Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall
    Security Tire Traction Chain

    These tire traction chains are designed for SUVs and pick-up trucks with ABS, AWD, and anti-lock brakes. This set of two chains features built-in rubber tensioners that don't need to be tightened after installation. They are designed to provide better traction and are more durable than standard tire chains and cables.


    The chains are fast and easy to install. You do not have to lay them out and drive your vehicle over them, and you can install them without moving your vehicle. They work on vehicles with limited clearance, and there's very little chance that they will damage your vehicle's body or mechanical components. They are also compatible with various electronically monitored systems.


    One problem with these chains is the material is fragile, and the hooks are prone to breaking. Some users have also complained that they can be challenging to remove off the tires.

    Best Value
    Security Chain Company SZ127 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain

    These cable tire chains are intended for passenger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. The product comes with a set of two tire chains, which are easy to install. They weigh five pounds and are 16.8 inches by 5.4 inches by 5.3 inches wide. The self-adjusting cable is designed for vehicles with little sidewall clearance. The Z6 model comes with a cloth bag to store the cables.


    The cable chains work nicely on snow and ice covered roads, and they grip exceptionally well. The installation is very straight forward -- the chains lock and unlock in three locations so it's simple and doesn't take much time to put them on. Removing them is just as easy.  In addition, the chains are durable and can be reused several times. The included rubber strap tensioners help to pull the chains tight.


    The connectors are a little hard to work with because of their low profile. There have been some complaints about improper fit, so be sure to check the SCC recommended sizes to ensure that they are intended for your vehicle model.  You may need to purchase an additional set of rubber tensioners because they may fail.

    Honorable Mention
    Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains

    Cobra's passenger cable chains provide SAE Class S clearance. Their low-profile carbon steel rollers are designed for durability, stability, and optimal traction. They also are constructed to reduce noise and vibration. The Cobra chains can be used on vehicles with minimal clearance and OEM tires with high tread.


    The Cobra chains are galvanized to prevent rust and come in a handy plastic storage case. They are simple to install and remove, and you don't have to roll your car back and forth during installation. Overall, they hold up well over time, grip well, and pack up easily.


    One downside to these chains is that the rubber adjusters, which the company recommends using, are sold separately. Also, the sizing chart may be incorrect, and the chains may break after a short period of use.

    Honorable Mention
    Glacier Passenger Cable Tire Chain

    These SAE Class S chains are designed for passenger cars. They are ladder-style cable chains with carbon steel rollers for better traction and durability. Vehicles with limited clearance and either front- or rear-wheel drive can use these chains, which have an electro-galvanized coating for rust protection.


    The low-profile steel rollers provide increased tire-to-road contact, which increases stability and reduces noise and vibration. They are easy to install, will not void your vehicle's warranty, do not get loose, and do not damage your vehicle. Overall, they are well-made and help with things such as driving up a steep driveway after a snowstorm.


    On the downside, they may not provide as much traction as products with a diamond pattern. They are also meant for light use and can fail in conditions beyond their capacity. In addition, they're not always easy to adjust.

    Honorable Mention
    Peerless Tire Traction Chain

    These tire chains from Peerless are a great economical option. They come with self-tightening ratchets that automatically tighten and center the chains. They feature a diamond-pattern cross chain, which improves traction and makes driving more smooth. Compared to a large-linked radial chain, riding on these is much more comfortable.


    These chains meet class S clearance requirements, and installation and removal are simple and take only a few minutes. They are made of manganese alloy steel, which makes them quite light. They are also a true D-chain link product, which produces a better bite than wire-type chains.


    One problem with these chains is that they are not suitable for large tires. Some users have also complained that the sizing chart is not accurate. Also, you can't go faster than 30 miles per hour with these chains on your vehicle.

    Honorable Mention
    KONIG CB-12 100 Snow Chains

    Konig's CB-12 100 tire chains feature a simple yet reliable manual tensioning system. They have 12 mm inside and on-the-tread clearance and are Ö-Norm 5117, UNI 11313 and TÜV certified. You can install these chains without removing the tires or jacking up your vehicle.


    It takes just minutes to install these chains on two wheels. They enable you to easily drive up long, steep, icy, and snowy hills, and they come with a little plastic mat to protect your knees from the snow. They are smooth on the snow and aren't too bumpy on asphalt. You also don't have to get out of your car to tighten them, which you have to do with some cheaper generic brands.


    However, these chains do not meet Class S requirements. They also only fit on some cars and trucks, but not all, including some makes and models that are advertised. They may also fail after a short period of use.

    Tips

    • Only use snow chains when there is at least one inch of snow on the road. The best time to put them on is usually during or after a snowstorm.
    • You can also use chains in muddy driving conditions. But be sure to remove the chains when you return to regular roads to protect your vehicle's tires and the road surface.
    • You will need to drive a little bit slower when you have snow chains on your tires. We recommend driving 30 mph or slower. In addition, try to not brake hard or accelerate fast when using them.
    • Make sure you purchase the right size because if they don't fit well, they may cause an accident. The best car chains will perform better than winter tires because they are thicker than tire tread and firmly grip the road surface.
    • Consider keeping two sets of snow chains and/or cables in your vehicle at all times, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow. That way, if something breaks you will have a backup.
    • Understand that chain-sizing tables are approximate. After testing their fit on your vehicle, drive a short distance and check the fit once again. They may settle differently on the tires after you drive with them.

    FAQs

    Q: Are snow chains legal in every state?

    A: The law varies from state to state. Many allow them during certain periods of the year on certain roads. 

    Q: Can I use snow chains on any type of vehicle? 

    A: Be sure to check with the manufacturer's recommendations. Usually, cars that have little tire clearance are not good candidates for snow chains. There also may be other mechanical reasons why snow chains won't work on certain vehicle models.

    Q: Do I need snow chains if my vehicle has antilock brakes? 

    A: Yes. Antilock braking systems prevent vehicles from skidding. ABS does not have anything to do with snow chains, which enable a driver to have more control on snow and ice.

    Q: Are snow socks a good substitute for snow chains? 

    A: Snow socks are an alternative, but they may not be as effective as snow chains. This is especially true when hard-packed snow is involved. Vehicles with little tire clearance may benefit from snow socks instead of snow chains.

    Q: Where do I find the size of my tires? 

    A: Information about your tires is on the tire sidewall above the rim. The first three digits indicate tire width. The second set of double digits indicate tire height ratio. The third set of double digits indicate diameter.

    Q: How thick should my snow chains be? 

    A: There needs to be enough clearance between your tire and the body of your vehicle. A typical passenger vehicle usually has a lot of clearance. SUVs, trucks, and minivans often have a little less clearance. Sports cars and vehicles that are lowered have the smallest amount of clearance and probably should not have snow chains on them.

    Q: How many snow chains do I need? 

    A: It depends. Many people just use snow chain on the wheels that are used for traction.

    Final Thoughts

    Our top pick for the best tire chains is the Security Chain Company ZT741 Super Z LT Traction Chain. They have a built-in rubber tensioner and are compatible with a vehicle's various electronic systems.

    If you’re looking for something a little less pricey, consider the Security Chain Company SZ127 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain.