snowchains.com - UK leading snow chain supplier
sales/advice - 01732 360638
FAQs - snow chains and winter driving advice
Always try on your chains when you receive them
Tyres (of the same size) vary between manufacturers, therefore no online snow chain retailer can prescribe the correct size of chains with 100% reliability. If you think you have received the wrong size just give us a call so we can arrange to exchange them for a better fitting set. Please remember to try them on in clean/dry conditions, and not to drive on the chains in case you do want to exchange them.
What snow chains should I use for my vehicle?
We offer a full range of snow chains to suit all vehicles - the key considerations are:
1. Chain size (suitable for your tyre dimensions);
2. Clearance - at the back of the wheel (see below for more on this);
3. Clearance - between the road surface and wheel arch (and room to get your hands into the arch).
Note: very low profile tyres can also limit the options open to you. Please call us if you have a query.
Our budget Polar range are perfect for getting you out of trouble, both here and abroad, and meet all legal requirements when driving in Europe and on mountain roads - these are used by the RAC, AA and MOD. The premium range of snow chains offer all our budget snow chains offer, as well as having an automatic tensioning system (with the exception of the Thule CK-7s). Our premium range of snow chains are more hardwearing, are made of high tensile steel and carry a 5 year warranty. We also sell snow socks; a textile 'sock' that wraps around the wheel to give increased grip in snowy conditions. They are very easy to fit and are a great solution for local use.
My vehicle has limited clearance - can I still use snow chains?
Some vehicles have very little space between the wheel and the suspension of the vehicle which means the chains could come into contact with the bodywork, braking systems or suspension with serious consequences. It is possible to check if your vehicle has a clearance problem by placing your hand on top of the wheel. You need to be able to fit your hand between the wheel and the suspension of the vehicle - move your hand from 9 ‘O' Clock round to 3 ‘O' Clock along the back of the wheel to check the distance between the wheel and any obstructions. A standard car snow chain has a 9mm protrusion and so there needs to a gap of about 15mm between the inner edge of the tyre and any obstructions. For 16mm chains you need at least 21mm of clearance. When it is not possible to fit a standard snow chain we have various options to help. The Thule K-Summit snow chain requires no clearance around the back of wheel as it fixes to the wheel nut on the outside of the wheel, making it suitable for the most affected vehicles. We also have a 7mm chain which has been specially designed for cars with clearance problems. A snow sock is another solution; a textile cover that wraps over the wheel to give improved grip on snow covered roads. The traction given by a snow sock is not as good as that of a snow chain meaning they do not meet legal requirements on European mountain roads.
Some 4x4/mid-size vehicles also have clearance problems and again the Thule K-Summit offers a very comprehensive solution. The Thule XG12-Pro snow chain can be used on some vehicles as it protrudes 12mm off the wheel, compared to the standard 4x4/Van/Motorhome snow chain protrusion of 16mm.
In order to fit a regular snow chain you also need enough space between the wheel and the arch to get your hands into the arch on top of the wheel.
How many snow chains do I need?
Snow chains are sold in pairs and need to be fitted to the drive wheels. This is generally seen as sufficient and meets the legal requirements on mainland Europe and mountain roads. Some drivers prefer to use four snow chains (two sets) for additional traction. This would give more control, especially if you are driving for long stretches in areas requiring snow chains. On a four wheel drive vehicle they are generally fitted to the front wheels (please check manufacturers handbook for advice), but if there is restricted space between the wheel and the suspension of the vehicle at the front they will need to be fitted to the rear wheels.
Where and when should I carry snow chains?
On mainland Europe a driver is responsible for equipping his vehicle for all weather conditions. A driver can be fined if he fails to use snow chains when they are needed, thus impeding the normal flow of traffic or causing an accident.
Snow chains are a legal requirement on all European mountain roads. Roadside checks are carried out and drivers may be fined if they do not have a set in their vehicle. Snow socks do not meet the required standard in European ski resorts.
How fast can I drive whilst using snow chains?
We would always recommend driving with caution in snowy conditions, even when using snow chains. The maximum recommended speed is 30mph.
A gentle driving style is essential when using snow chains. Excessive acceleration and hard braking will put too much pressure on snow chains and may cause them to snap.
What accessories do I legally have to carry in my car when driving on the Continent?
Regulations regarding accessories are subject to change and we would recommend checking the AA website for the most up to date information. Currently it is compulsory to have a GB sticker, warning triangle, reflective vest, beam deflectors and spare bulb kit across most of continental Europe plus breathalysers for France.
Regulations regarding the use of reflective vests vary from country to country, with some countries requiring any passenger that exits the vehicle to wear one. We recommend all passengers have a reflective vest.
Are snow chains legal?
The use of snow chains is legal in the UK, as long as they are not used in a manner that will damage the road surface. This means snow chains must only be used on snow-covered roads and need to be removed when driving on a tarmac surface. The use of snow chains is legal across most of Europe, and in many areas they are compulsory. Local signs indicate when they are legally required and this includes all mountain roads/ski resorts. Outside of these compulsory areas, any driver found to cause a hold up or accident as a result of not being equipped for the weather conditions is liable to be fined.
Can I use snow chains on tarmac?
Snow chains are designed for use on packed snow and ice. Driving on tarmac is not recommended because it will wear the chains very quickly. Snow chains can also be used in muddy conditions - very useful for motorhomes. We also sell snow chains to the middle east for use in sandy conditions!
What about snow socks?
Snow socks are an alternative to snow chains usually recommended when a car does not have clearance for snow chains. If you are unsure of which to choose you may find useful our snow chains vs. snow socks article. It remains a grey area whether socks meet the required legal standard in European ski resorts.
How easy are snow chains to fit?
Once you have the hang of it you should be able to fit each snow chain in a couple of minutes. We recommend you try on the snow chains before you go on holiday. We have also produced snow chain fitting videos, available on the fitting page, so you can see how it's done.