The low down on cor­rectly fit­ting Snow Chains

Alpine News - - Cross Country - By RICHARD TOWN­LEY

BE­FORE in­stalling and us­ing any snow chains, al­ways read the ve­hi­cle’s owner’s man­ual and fol­low the fit­ting in­struc­tions that have been sup­plied with the snow chains.

This is im­por­tant as the Konig, Rud and Thule snow chain war­ranty/guar­an­tee does not cover any snow chains that are used on a ve­hi­cle that is fit­ted with wheels, tyres or a wheel/tyre com­bi­na­tion, that is not ap­proved to be fit­ted with chains by the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer.

For wheel chains to work ef­fec­tively they must be able to rely on the com­pound and tread of the tyre to be able to grip to the chain mesh and to help pre­vent the wheel from spin­ning in­side the chain.

There are is­sues even when a di­a­mond pat­tern snow chain sys­tem is used on high per­for­mance 2WD or AWD “sum­mer” tyres.

On sum­mer tyres snow chains will grip to the snow/ice but the tyre can slip or spin the chain even when they are tight­ened on to the tyre.

The prob­lem is com­pounded by the cam­ber of the road, the weight and torque of the ve­hi­cle, the tyre width and the amount of tread on the tyre.

Wheel chains fit­ted to sum­mer tyres on the front wheels will in­crease trac­tion for take off and driv­ing but can not as­sist with lat­eral sta­bil­ity. Be­cause of the in­ad­e­quate grip on the rear tyres the ve­hi­cle will over steer and when brak­ing the ABS sys­tem will be ac­ti­vated, fur­ther in­creas­ing the stop­ping dis­tance. The prob­lems are al­ways worse when driv­ing down hill.

Wheel chains fit­ted to sum­mer tyres on the rear wheels will in­crease trac­tion for take off and driv­ing but can not as­sist with steer­ing or lat­eral sta­bil­ity. Be­cause of in­ad­e­quate grip on the front tyres the ve­hi­cle will not ‘turn in’, it will un­der steer and when brak­ing, the ABS sys­tem will be ac­ti­vated, fur­ther in­creas­ing the stop­ping dis­tance. Again the prob­lems are al­ways worse when driv­ing down hill.

There are two ba­sic type of di­a­mond pat­tern wheel chain ten­sion­ing sys­tems. (A) Self-ten­sion­ing sys­tem, eg Konig/Thule T2 Magic, XG-CSCL-XS etc. (B) Man­ual ten­sion­ing sys­tem, eg Konig/Thule Zip-CK-CB, Rud Grip etc. The ad­van­tage of the self­ten­sion­ing sys­tem (A) is that it pre­vents the chain from be­ing over ten­sioned and with the man­ual ten­sion­ing sys­tem (B) the chain can be over ten­sioned if the ten­sion­ing chain is pulled up su­per tight.

This may be seen as an ad­van­tage, how­ever, the tighter the chain the quicker it will show signs of wear es­pe­cially when it is driven on a ‘bare’ road that is not cov­ered by snow.

Snow chains do not have to be su­per tight on the tyre and with cor­rect ten­sion your chains will ac­tu­ally last longer, an ad­van­tage for you and for shops that hire chains.

◆ THE RIGHT FIT: Cor­rectly fit­ting the right snow chain will make for a safe drive in the snow and also pre­vent both tyres and chains from wear­ing out sooner than they should.

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