text.skipToContent text.skipToNavigation


Most vehicles on the road in the United States are not designed to be driven effectively in winter weather, and snow chains can be an invaluable asset when traveling in such conditions is necessary.



What Is a Snow Chain?

  • Snow chains are devices that wrap around vehicle tires and help to establish traction on slippery driving surfaces. They originated in the northern United States where winter conditions were punitive and enabled drivers to continue motoring when roads were covered with snow.

How Does a Snow Chain Work?

  • Snow chains for cars are typically manufactured in pairs. They’re designed to match the dimensions of the tire in terms of profile and width, and when fitted properly, will surround the tire completely. As a vehicle moves forward, the metal chains “bite” into the surface beneath to provide traction. Once snow chains are fitted, however, forward speed is sacrificed for safety and traction.

How Is a Snow Chain Made?

  • Typically,snow chains are made from steel cables or links, but they can also be made from rubber or polyurethane. Heavy-duty versions can be made from hardened steel, especially those used beneath buses or tractors. The main “net” of chains are held in place with cables or elastic tensioners, and there may be an aluminum central bar to hold everything in place and initiate tension when the vehicle moves. Nylon bumpers can be attached to the chains to help protect alloy wheels.

How Does a Snow Chain Fail?

  • They may not be attached securely enough.
  • Driving on predominantly dry roads for too long.

What Are the Symptoms of Failure?

  • Chain links may break.
  • Loss of control even when chains are fitted.

What Are the Implications of Failure?

  • Broken chain components could cause a tire puncture.
  • Loss of control could lead to an accident.

Care should be taken to choose the right type of snow chain for the vehicle and its drive configuration. While their use is often a matter of choice, some jurisdictions may ban them due to the possibility of damage to the underlying surface.

If you have questions or concerns about snow chains or any of your vehicle’s components, come into your local Pep Boys where we can answer any question, help you find any part, or perform any vehicle service you might need.