Tire chains, also known as snow chains, are used to give your vehicle maximum traction in slippery conditions. They’re especially important if it’s raining, muddy, or snowing outside.
Do 4X4 trucks really need snow chains? If you live in an area with a lot of snow, you should carry them to comply with local laws. If you live in an area where it doesn’t snow a lot, you can probably leave the chains at home.
For overlanders who like to travel to remote, off-road destinations, it never hurts to bring some chains along just in case.
It can be challenging to decide if you need to purchase tire chains or not. Consider the pros and cons to help you determine whether it’s worth the money.
Navigating State Requirements
Different states around the United States have different laws regarding the requirement of chains. Requirements can be broken down into three different levels:
- Level 1- Snow tires, fit snow chains, or traction devices are required to be on the drive axles of all motor vehicles except ones equipped with all-wheel or four-wheel drive.
- Level 2- Chains or traction devices are required for all vehicles. There is an exception for all-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles that have snow-tread tires on all wheels.
- Level 3- Chains or traction devices are required for all vehicles. This means that there is no exception for all-wheel or four-wheel-drive vehicles.
These requirements may differ at times, depending on the weather and how bad driving conditions may be. It’s essential to know the rules for the area you’re driving in. It is also important to pay attention to the weather to determine whether the tire chain requirements will change.
Why Should I Use Chains?
Chains are designed to improve your tire’s traction when driving in conditions in which the tire would sink, like deep snow or mud.
Tire chains are metal chains designed in a specific pattern to increase tread. Chains should be equipped to the drive tires of your vehicle. For example, front-wheel-drive vehicles would put the chains on the front wheels. Four-wheel-drive vehicles would put them on all tires.
It’s important to note that fitted snow chains will limit your vehicle to speeds around 30 mph. It can be a hassle to continuously take the chains on and off, but they’ll definitely help when you absolutely need to get through that snow bank or muddy patch.
If you have a four-wheel-drive rig, you already have an advantage in slippery conditions, but even four-wheel-drive trucks need tire chains to improve traction when the driving conditions aren’t great.
If you plan on driving off-road, good tire chains are essential. You never know what conditions you’ll run into.
Using tire chains on your truck does have a few disadvantages. The first disadvantage is that tire chains can be a hassle to fit and untangle. It makes things even worse if you live in an area where it snows frequently and you need to constantly take the chains on and off.
Tire chains can also damage your vehicle if they’re incorrectly fitted on your tires. The chain can break and damage your wheel wells. They can also damage roadways if vehicles use them too much. Tire chains are only suitable for driving in rural areas. Don’t try to drive through any towns or cities.
Finally, if you’re going to use tire chains, make sure you keep a regular tire rotation and alignment schedule. It should be done more often if you are using your truck or jeep for offroading.
Understanding Road Conditions
Tire chains should only be used when snow or ice is on the road, or if you’re off-roading in muddy conditions. Using tire chains under normal conditions can damage both your vehicle and the road. Once you reach a section without ice, snow, or mud, you should pull over and remove the chains.
When you put tire chains on your rig, keep speeds to under 30 mph. Tire chains aren’t meant for fast driving. The rotation speed and the weight of the chains can cause the straps to come loose or break, sending the chains flying.
Finding the Right Chains for Your 4×4 Truck
The most important thing to look for when searching for tire chains is that they fit your vehicles tires. Your car’s manual or the sidewalls of your tires can inform you of the tire specs. You need to get chains that work for your specific vehicle/tires. Some snow chains are adjustable.
This allows for your tire chains to provide your tires with a tight and secure fit so they can work properly. Look for the sizing displayed on the product package or in the online description to make sure you get the right ones.
Carrying tire chains in your overland rig is a great way to be prepared for any conditions on or off road. The last thing you want is to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere. It’s better to be safe than sorry.