How-to

How to Get a Grip in the Snow

How to Get a Grip in the Snow

Use Tire Chains with Easy: Helpful Hints!

Snow 4-wheeling is great, chilling fun, and coldly challenging. We’ve all seen the TV commercials for the winter sales of the fancy new 4WD bounding across snowfields, blasting fresh powder all over the camera! It looks like such fun! One problem with this scenario is that you have to watch out for tree stumps and rocks hidden by the deep, fresh powder. Blast across some meadows and your tire could get shoved under your rig, bending the rim and flattening the tire. OUCH!

Be careful when the momentum factor carries you away. Should you go too fast, and the rig will slide off the trail. The ice under the snow will ensure that. You can be “clipping” down a trail in deep powder, come into a turn, try to negotiate the turn and the rig continues straight. Here is where tire chains come in handy. This article is going to talk about what I feel are some of the most important pieces of equipment to help get you and your rig ready for the winter trail, tire chains in general.

how to install tire chains

I usually use chains whenever I do any backcountry driving in the snow -4 tires, 4 chains. I’ve even written articles in the past on how to install tire chains, when to use them, and how to keep them from twisting up. But, now I’ve found a much better way!

It literally takes half a minute to install a chain on a tire. I installed all four tire chains in minutes and didn’t have to move the tires at all to get the chains tight! I then drove right out of the predicament.

That’s right, the tires did not have to be rolled or the vehicle moved to install these chains. Although it is a good idea to roll down the road about 50 feet and make sure the chains are properly tensioned, in a tight spot like I had on the trail they worked just fine without doing this.

It’s as simple as sliding the chain behind the tire, bringing the inner cable connector up to the top and making the connection for the inner link, then connecting the outer link, straightening the chain on the tire, pulling the tensioning chain through the locking mechanism, pulling tight, then hooking it to an appropriate link to keep the chain tensioner.

You can use chains for worn or non-aggressive tread tires too especially when driving through mud or lose rock. It is best to put them on the front axle so that you have steering, braking, and traction. Other suggestions for using chains are the following:

  1. Be cautious when spinning the tires. The fact is that the chains may catch on unseen stumps, rocks, as well as roots, and that will result in could breaking an axle or even a hub.
  2. Inspect the trail in deep snow – there may be hidden obstacles.
  3. Inspect chains before and after each ride. Watch out for worn links and stretched connectors.
  4. Apply some WD40 to the chains after each use. The chains shouldn’t rust.
  5. Be cautious when steering with the front end articulated. The chains should not contact vehicle components.
  6. Keep in mind, chains will enable you to dig to the trail in deep snow and ice. Consider high-centering in those conditions. Sometimes, though very deep, it is best to use soft, high flotation tires to move across the top of deep drifts in lieu of chains. After that, you can air up to place the chains back on.
  7. Do not touch cold, icy chains with your bare hands. It is advised to use heavy-duty neoprene/rubber gloves. Leatherwork gloves of good quality will work too when you put chains on.
  8. Drive slowly and deliberate when the chains are on so that you gain proper traction and take control over the icy trail.
  9. Use higher RPM’s in lower gears to keep the chains “churning.” Such an approach will ensure that ice breaks in hard-pack snow and the vehicle gains traction on the track.

tire chains

No matter if you use your ride to get through wintry streets to get groceries or the kids to school, or winch to a good ice fishing spot, you should be prepared for anything. Winter is the season of harsh trials and beautiful sceneries. you should always have the proper equipment on you and a good plan on how to use it. even if you have all the gear in the world, but you have no clue how to use it, little good will come out of it.

No matter what kind of rig you own, from stock showroom vehicles to the most radical of off-road machines, you must always check it out before heading to the hills. You can prepare a checklist to be sure you have seasonal items that maybe wouldn’t make it into your kit at other times of the year. I built a shelf in my garage to hold the off-season items. That way, it goes in the vehicle and when I’m done, it goes right back on the shelf in its place. I think it was Confucius who said: “A place for everything and everything in its place,” or maybe it was my drill sergeant.

It sure is a winter wonderland out there…quiet, peaceful, and scenic. The best part about winter 4-wheeling is the lack of bugs and people competing for campsites! Be prepared, stay safe, and don’t be a stick-in-the-mud (or snow)!

Basic Rules for Using All Tire Chains

  • Prepare chains prior to the primary use.
  • Check the owner’s manual to see if the chains can be used on your type of vehicle.
  • Make sure that the chains are correctly-sized for your tires (see article above).
  • Follow directions for installing tire chains precisely. Apply the chains as tightly as you can to ensure the maximum chain life.
  • Get off-highway somewhere to a safe place before installing, servicing, or removing tire chains.
  • Don’t deflate tires to install tire chains. (Tires should be normal inflation.)
  • Drive approximately 1/4 mile, then stop and retighten. Some extra links may be cut off, or retained on the fastener arm. Apply the rubber adjusters after retightening. DO NOT USE ADJUSTERS ON “ALL CABLE-TYPE” CHAINS.
  • Try not to exceed 30 miles per hour. Both accelerate and decelerate slowly. Do not allow the spinning or locking of wheels.
  • If a cross-chain seems to fail, stop immediately. Continue with a repair or removal. NEVER DRIVE WITH A BROKEN CHAIN.
  • Try not to hit curbs with tire chains on.
  • Do not use tire chains while towing.

If you live in an area that gets plenty of snow, you may want to consider adding the Best Jeep Snow Plow to aid you in getting around with your new tires.

About the author

Mattew Brodie

Mattew Brodie

Hi there! This blog was created to share my off-roading, gear-related knowledge with those interested in the field. I’ve worked as mechanic for years and have been a devoted off-roader for as long. Now, I’ve decided to combine the two and share my experience with passionate audience. I do not claim to know it all – but when something new hits the surface, I will be on it to research its ups and downs. Call me an off-roading nerd if you like, and as long as you can find something useful in here – you are heartedly welcome!

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