When you’ve gotten out into a great off-roading experience and get into a situation where you need your chains, there’s nothing worse than realizing that they’re too big and you’re stuck. Adjusting the fit of your chains is a fairly common procedure due to the differences in tire sizes. It’s pretty straightforward to remove links from your ATV tire chains before you need them with just a little time and effort.
1. Putting on the chains
Put the chains on by spreading them out either behind or in front of your ATV, then back the tires onto them, preferably with the easier to fasten side on the inside, so that the harder to fasten side is where you can see it easily. Slotted ramps can make this process easier by holding the chains in the correct position.
2. Try to fasten the chains as tightly as possible
Be sure to put a chain tensioner on to take up the slack. Drive 1/4 mile and re-tighten. If you have more than two or three extra links when fastening, you’re going to want to remove the excess chain. To do this, you can use a pair of heavy bolt-cutters, a cut-off wheel on a Dremel or similar tool, or a similar process after removing the chains from the tire.
3. Chains Trimming
If trimming them back will put a cross-chain past or too close to your fastener to be able to tighten it easily, you will need to remove the close cross-chain. To do this, you will need to remove the chains from the ATV, and wearing safety glasses, use a cold chisel and hammer to loosen the joining link that attaches the cross-chain to the side chain by turning the joining link sideways, wedging the cold chisel into the joint and striking the chisel with the hammer. Once the joining links are loose, repeat on the other side.
4. Engage the tightening lever and put a chain tensioner
Don’t forget that you will need to engage the tightening lever or cam and possibly put a chain tensioner on to help keep the chains snug against the wheel. If you do have spare links on the side chains, you’ll want to fasten them down to prevent damage to your fender wells. You will also want to keep your speed down while you’ve got chains on as well, preferably under 25 miles per hour.
It’s important to remember that properly fitted chains have up to twice the life expectancy as poorly fitted chains due to broken links, excessive wear, and similar issues.
By taking a little care to make sure they are properly fitted at the start and taking a little time to maintain them by letting them dry properly, fixing broken links and other issues will make your investment last a long time and give you every bit of performance you need out of them. Check out our Best ATV Tire Chains for Ice Fishing Review to find out more about the last product updates on the market.