If you are going to the mountains, don’t forget the snow chains. It’s easy to use, but it has its rules. Some cars don’t support them at all
The past week brought a good amount of snow and tormented drivers in the districts, highways and cities. Especially in mountainous areas, motorists put on snow chains, which should be an integral part of mandatory equipment, even if the law does not require it. While the use of winter tires is strictly given, the wearing of snow chains is only mandated on specific sections by the C5a sign and the ending C5b. Otherwise, their use is entirely at the discretion of the driver.
But the problem arises with the selection itself. Most kits are universal and can adapt to the dimensions of the bike. However, some car models do not allow their installation due to the small space in the undercarriage, or their assistance and driving systems are not adapted for this. You can find the information in the manual, or in the technical certificate together with the specific size of the wheels.
As always, luck favors the prepared. There is no harm in trying on the chains at home in the heat. You will do better in blizzards and with fragile fingers. With this, you will also practice the correct tightening, which must be checked after a few tens of meters. There are also kits with automatic tightening on the market, where you don’t have to deal with it and there is also a fuse for correct fastening. Classic chains have a diameter of 9 mm, for sports cars and cars with rear-wheel drive there is a thinner 7 mm variant.
Foresight is the key. If you are already driving on snow or ice (on bare asphalt you risk damage to the car, excessive wear of the chains, and it does not benefit the road itself), it is necessary to follow the road and put on the chains in advance, not until the hill, when you lose traction. Of course you put them on the driven wheels, but it’s not a bad idea to use two sets on all wheels. It is logical for both axles to be driven, but you will reduce oversteer with the front wheels and understeer with the rear wheels.
Because the car’s behavior will change, turn off any possible assistants that the unusual situation might have. The maximum speed with chains is limited to 50 km/h. Don’t forget to clean them after use and ideally let them dry overnight. If your eyelets freeze together in the car, re-use will be difficult. Monitor wear and tear continuously. It is possible to turn the steel chain inside out and “run” it from the other side as well. Then it’s time for a new set.
There are also several alternatives. One of them is anti-slip tapes, which do take up less space, but putting them on one at a time may not suit everyone. Anti-slip wraps for whole wheels only work on ice and, for example, in Austria, they are not considered a full-fledged alternative to chains. It is more of a rescue accessory. In addition, they wear out quickly.