The first snow of the year looks magical, but all those icy and snowy roads that you have to drive on for the rest of the season? Not so much. Slick and slippery snow on busy roads is a traffic jam and road accident waiting to happen.
So, what can you do? Well, aside from purchasing great quality snow tires, adding the best tire chains can really give you added traction on slippery streets.
And to help you out, we’ve reviewed dozens of tire chains on the market to come up with this list of the best models in terms of performance, quality, functionality, and durability.
Read also related articles: Best wheel locks, best portable air pump for car tires, and best all terrain tires for snow.
Best Snow Tire Chains Summary
|Product Name||Image||Ratings||Item Weight||Amazon Link||Spikes-Spider 14.522 SPXL Sport Series Winter Traction Aid||7.95 lbs||Check Price|
|Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain||1 lbs||Check Price|
|Twist Link Tire Chain for Trucks and SUVs||41.2 lbs||Check Price|
|Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains||9.1 lbs||Check Price|
|Quality Chain Volt LT Cable Tire Chains||N/A||Check Price|
|VeMee Snow Chains for Car||4.64 lbs||Check Price|
|Peerless Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain||13.9 lbs||Check Price|
|Security Chain Company SC1032 Radial Chain Cable Traction Tire Chain||5.6 lbs||Check Price|
8 Best Snow Tire Chains
Preparing your vehicle for the winter doesn’t only mean mounting the right set of winter tires, but also having the best tire chains that can really help you take on that thick and slick snow. These are the eight best options in 2020:
1. Spikes-Spider 14.522 SPXL Sport Series Winter Traction Aid
The top pick for us is the Spikes-Spider 14.522 SPXL sports series winter traction aid, which is an innovative snow chain that comes with unique features that aren’t easy to find on traditional tire chains.
For example, it comes with two pieces of four armed traction elements for quick snap installations and removals that take no more than three minutes. It also incorporates traction bars with tungsten studs on the tread of the tires.
And, the four traction bars let you easily adjust the chain by moving the links to various holes on the traction pads. This means that the chain works for various types of vehicles like SUVs and minivans. Moreover, these studded traction bars and the connected steel chain links eliminates any risk of tangling.
2. Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain
Our second best bet is the SCC SZ143 Super Z6 cable tire chain, which is a highly rated product thanks to its convenient features, such as the simple design that makes for easy installation with much less effort. It also features diagonal cable chains that give you better performance and traction as compared to more conventional designs.
This tire chain is made with manganese alloy steel, which makes it lightweight and comfortable to handle. What really makes it stand out, however, is the element of rubber tighteners which eliminate any need for retightening after you install the chains.
To sum it up, this tire chain is versatile, effective in doing its job, and highly compatible with various vehicles. All things considered, it’s an excellent model for a tire chain that works great in the winter season.
3. Twist Link Tire Chain for Trucks and SUVs
In third place is the Twist Link tire chain for trucks and SUVs, which features durable steel cross chains that get support from the tire’s level end fasteners on each side. This steel construction also makes the chain easily accommodated by your vehicle’s front and rear wheels.
This chain comes with a good weight and makes use of side-cams that allow proper driver locking during installation and any adjustment. Its overall design is simple even with the links and twists, and it’s highly suitable for massive vehicles such as vans, trucks, and SUVs.
Furthermore, this convenient design is what makes for a unique functionality in letting you easily drive and handle icy, snowy, muddy, and even sandy roads. The cam links and level-end fasteners we mentioned earlier also increase practicality and make mounting and dismounting relatively quick and easy.
4. Quality Chain Cobra Cable Passenger Snow Traction Tire Chains
Ranking fourth is the Quality Chain Cobra cable passenger snow traction tire chain, which is one of the more budget options that doesn’t sacrifice on traction. This is evident in the way the chain hugs and secures every part of your tires, along with its ergonomic, low profile design that makes for easy and convenient operations.
The chain is highly durable and comes with a Class ‘S’ clearance, meaning the advantageous rollers are highly adaptable for utilization in different SUVs and cars with low clearance, and they also reduce vibration and noise during the drive. These rollers are even equipped with rubber adjusters to guarantee fastening and traction.
And despite the chain’s subtle design, it’s still very robust and can easily withstand harsh wintry conditions. The chain also comes with a carbon steel alloy for better wear and tear resistance, and it has been galvanized for added durability and endurance against rough terrain and adverse weather conditions.
5. Quality Chain Volt LT Cable Tire Chains
Taking the fifth spot is the Quality Chain Volt LT cable tire chain, which is quite similar to the SCC Super Z6 in the sense that it also comes with the diagonal cable design. That said, it’s also unique in its own way, and it comes with rubber adjusters to help secure the chain to your tires.
It’s also made with high quality and sturdy materials. For instance, the cross cables come with ally rollers to enhance traction abilities and overall durability. It even comes with rubber straps that are highly adjustable to accommodate various types of vehicles.
What’s more, this tire chain boasts of many other convenient features, such as how the cable configuration makes for a smoother ride with increased traction and better resistance to wear and tear, along with exceptional endurance to tough driving conditions.
6. VeMee Snow Chains for Car
We also really like the VeMee snow chain, which is a model specifically designed for cars, and comes in ten-piece packages with different sized chain pieces. This anti-slip chain comes in a universal and easily adjustable design, so it conveniently works on various cars, trucks, and SUVs in snow emergencies.
Plus, there are adjustable tension straps on each piece to give you convenient fitment on different tires. They even help you quickly and easily install the chain without needing to remove your tires beforehand. And of course, the individual-piece packaging helps with easier transport and storage- just collect one whenever you need it, and go.
The chain is also made with steel studs in the material to make for better tire and tread protection. There is also the thick and pure TPU material that securely holds the chain’s original steel construction. These things make the chain extremely tough and durable, as well as gives it superior grip for driving on snow, ice, mud, or sand.
7. Peerless Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain
You should also check out the Peerless Auto-Trac tire traction chain for light trucks and SUVs, which is a convenient snow chain thanks to its unique diamond chain pattern. This cross chain design stands out and gives the chain superior traction while also making for a much superior ride when compared to other tire chains.
This one makes for an easy and convenient installation to removal process with its self-tightening ratchets. It also comes with high-impact rackets made from polycarbonate to facilitate automatic centering and tightening. And, the manganese steel alloy construction makes the chain simultaneously lightweight and durable.
All in all, it’s a versatile tire chain that offers one-of-a-kind functionality that eliminates any need for a chain tensioner. It’s easy to install and just as easy to use on snowy roads, slippery pavement, and deserts. Plus, it’s highly affordable too!
8. Security Chain Company SC1032 Radial Chain Cable Traction Tire Chain
Last but not the least is the SCC SC1032 radial chain cable traction tire chain, which is the most lightweight out of all the other options on this list. This is a huge benefit as it means the chain is really easy and comfortable to mount and take off your tires, and you don’t even have to lift your vehicle to do it.
Despite its lightweight construction, however, this chain is made with durable stainless steel that offers superior resistance to damage and corrosion. It also makes use of traction coils rather than steel rollers to make it more driver-friendly, since the loops offer better resistance to damage and minimize the risk of getting flat.
It may be an old-fashioned chain, but that only means it’s affordable and long lasting. Its performance is proven and tested, and its traction is so much better than many of today’s steel rollers. All in all, it’s a great tire chain for snow.
Best tire chains for snow buying guide
Every winter season, driving safely on icy roads and heavy snow often means equipping your tires with tire chains made for the snow. These will help you tackle the road more effectively and reduce the risk of getting into an accident. To help you find the best tire chains, here are the most important things you need to consider:
Why you need tire chains
First of all, do you really need tire chains? Here are the ways these tire chains can help you tackle the snowy roads:
● Tire chains let you enjoy better traction for driving on heavy snow and icy roads, which is more than what you can expect from standard tires, or even specialty snow tires.
● Snow chains also let you safely navigate turns by giving you more turning power in the snow and ice.
● When compared to driving with bare regular tires, having tire chains on allows you to drive much faster since you don’t need to slow down significantly to avoid slipping.
Tire chains vs tire cables
Essentially, tire chains are mesh-like devices composed of interconnected metal chain links that wrap around your tire to give you better traction. These chains are long lasting and have great corrosion and damage resistance, which are important things if you’ll use the chains often.
On the other hand, cable chains are web-like tire covers made from individual steel cable pieces and often come with small metal rings that make for a better grip on the snow. These are smaller, lighter, and feature lower profiles than metal tire chains.
If you don’t drive in the snow often, or only encounter light snow, the reduced traction and durability are acceptable compromises for the cheaper price.
Important factors to consider before you buy the best tire chains
Below are the most important features you need to look for in a tire chain before making a purchase:
Not all tire cables and chains are self-tensioning, but it’s ideal that you look for one with this feature so you don’t experience any slack while driving, thanks to the ratchet tightening the chain along with the movement of the tire.
Remember, properly tightened chains are important, since too much slack not only reduces performance, but can even cause damage on the chain and tire.
Now, while manual tensioning cables are easier to install, the only chance you have to re-tighten the chain in case of slack is by stopping the car or waiting until you reach your destination. That said, self-adjusting chains can also fail so you’ll need to invest in spare tensioners.
Another beneficial feature is an automatic release function, which makes the removal process so much easier. This will prove useful during long drives with some parts of the trip riddled with snowy roads, and some clear as summer, in which case you’ll need to remove the chain before continuing the drive, lest you want to drive on bare pavement with the chain on.
Tire chains are available in different link patterns, with some of them square, some diagonal, and others diamond, ladder, and so on. Each link pattern has its own advantages:
● Square chains are best in terms of traction and durability
● Diagonal chains are great for ice and snow traction, and are ideal for vehicles with ABS and traction control
● Diamond chains are most suited for automobiles with anti-lock brake systems
● Ladder chains are more versatile in that they can either be used for ice and snow exclusively, or be alternated for driving on and off the road
Tire chains come in four different classifications:
● Entry level for light snow and ice
● Standard for regular snowfall levels
● Premium for particularly snowy areas and lots of icy surfaces
● Alternative traction for vehicles with low profile tires.
Tire chain categories are a different matter altogether. When it comes to passenger cars, you need SAE Class S rated snow chains, which are chains made for vehicles with new front-wheel drives and low ground clearances. Different category designations are made for vehicles with higher ground clearances, and are not suitable for daily drivers.
Of course, the tire chain should also be the right size for your tires. This means accounting for your tires’ height, width, and diameter. The tire chain should match those dimensions so that it won’t be too small or large, as an ill-fitting chain will result in inefficiency and frustration.
When it comes to chain material, you generally have the option of metal and rubber.
Metal chains are better in terms of control over the drive, but these are damaging to the pavement, whereas rubber chains are better for your car and the road alike, although they typically reduce clearance. That said, rubber chains do come with metal fasteners so you can attach them on passenger vehicles and trucks.
Speaking of clearance, or the distance between your vehicle’s body and your tires, this is important in the sense that you need more clearance to prevent the tire from hitting the body of the car while you move forward, and what can give you that are thicker tire chains and cables.
Snow chains aren’t made equal, even when it comes to weight. In general, lighter chains make for a better fuel economy, easier installation, and more convenient storage, while heavier chains perform better in harsh snowy conditions.
There are also many different ways tire chains can be installed. An easy method is via clamp-on installation likely involving self-tensioning mechanisms, and another option is chains that drape over the tire, which are even easier to mount, but are not as effective in doing their job.
You can get a tire chain for snow for as low as $40 to as high as $100+. The cheapest chains come with the worst features, aren’t as durable, and require tedious manual installation, while those in the middle range typically offer assisted or semi-automatic fitting, or, for a few extra bucks, even helpful features like auto-tensioning and self-centering.
And then there are high-end chains that are made specifically for pickup trucks and SUVs, and even more expensive ones for light trucks. These chains are mainly more expensive due to their enlarged size.
Best Tire chain FAQs
Q: How do tire chains work?
A: Tire chains are designed to envelop your vehicle’s wheels in order to give it more traction and grip, which are needed in icy and snowy conditions, so the wheels can rotate and move forward rather than skidding or spinning in place.
Q: When do you need to use tire chains?
Tire chains are primarily designed for winter use in order to let you safely tackle snowy conditions without risking accidents on the road. However, some tire chains can also be used for regular driving conditions if you want the benefit of quicker pick-ups, harder stops, and sharper turns. They may also be useful in certain off-road terrains.
Q: Are tire chains necessary for 4-wheel drives?
Regardless of what vehicle you drive or what type of tires you have, the traction that you can get from them can only get you so far in particularly slippery situations, so it’s always better and safer to use tire chains when the roads are particularly snowy. Many cities and states even make this mandatory during the winter, save for certain vehicles.
Q: Can you just use snow tires instead?
Specialty snow tires are great, since they are really made to handle the rigors of snowy and icy roads. They are even better if paired with a four wheel drive. But, when the weather is particularly harsh and the roads are extremely icy, using tire chains on winter tires is always a smart idea.
Final verdict: which is the best tire chain brand?
Whether you’re dealing with mild or extreme snow on the road, tire chains are your best friends when it comes to traction and grip, so you can let your wheels rotate freely without experiencing problems. You just have to make sure that you know how to use the chains properly, especially if you are driving an SUV or truck, so you can avoid mishaps on the road.
As for the best tire chains for snow, our top pick is the Spikes-Spider 14.522 SPXL Sport Series Winter Traction Aid, which is equal parts unique, innovative, convenient, and easy to install.