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Do tire chains really help?
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Do tire chains really help?

I live in Florida and am driving to Tennessee (in the mountains) in January and I know I will run into ice. I was thinking about investing into some tire chains or anything else that you can put on the tire to increase traction. There will be some minor hills... Do tire chains really work? What are the best kinds to get, and will they really work on small hills and such?
Additional Details
What about the plastic PVC type "chains" or the rubber "chains" and additions? Do they do the same justice?


Wired for Sound
I'm not sure where some of the folks got their information, but to my knowledge, tire chains are legal in all states that they would be needed in. Granted, Florida, Hawaii, etc probably wouldn't see the humor of you driving down the road with them on the vehicle. :-}

Tire chains work best in snow.... if the snow has packed to ice, they also do a good job, but if you are talking freezing rain situations... the best thing you can do is park the car, get a room and let the weather warm up.

If you are going to be on the interstate highways, I highly doubt that you will need them unless you hit a freak storm that just dumps snow.

The best thing you can do is slow down. Like stated above, four-wheel drive will not help you on ice. It will only compound the problem...

If you decide to purchase a set of chains, I would suggest that you go with cable chains if you have a front wheel drive car. They provide the most amount of clearance between the tire and the fenderwell. If you have a rear-wheel drive car, you might consider regular tire chains, but do yourself a favor.... no matter what kind you get, practice putting them on the car in your driveway before you leave Florida. It's a lot easier to "get the hang" of putting them on or taking them off when it's 60 degrees and sunny rather than 25 degrees, snowing and dark. Carry extra clothing to wear and a good pair of gloves (or two pair, in case the first one gets soaked).

I have run a truck in the mountains of Colorado most of my career and now in the Pacific Northwest where the snow is really wet and deep when it comes down. Chaining is a fact of life when driving a truck, no matter what someone stated above. You either chain it up, or park it and most loads don't have the luxury of sitting until the snow melts.

Just remember one thing... getting to your destination late is better than not arriving at all. Don't push yourself or your car. There is nothing wrong with knowing your limitations.

Have a safe trip and I hope this has helped....

The Mr. Pine
They make a huge difference. I found a good source.

Chains are to be used when appropriate...in snow. I can't think of a state that has mountain snow areas that has made them illegal.

Yes tire chains work or you can opt for cable chains. Or get a set of Snow/Ice tires and your good to go. Try www.tirerack.com and look at winter tires.

Vince M
Not only do snow chains work, they may be required on certian roads at certain times. The local transportation departments or law enforcement agencies may set up check stations to make sure that your vehicle carries chains, in case of weather changes, or to check that chains are installed before allowing the vehicle to procede into icy road conditions.

If you are only anticipating a single trip where these conditions may be encountered, you might consider renting chains. In winter, many auto parts stores and sporting goods shops will rent them for your vehicle.

I found that they don't cost that much to purchase, and, ever since one strange trip from California to Reno, Nevada, when it snowed in June, I ALWAYS keep a set in the trunk of my car. It takes up little room, and it's less trouble to unpack and repack them each time I take a trip over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. (about four times a year.)

They work but it's a terrible ride, kind of like driving on those rumble strips all the time. If you don't have ones that fit your car perfectly they will ruin the tires and probably your wheel wells. They are impossible to get on sitting on the side of the highway in the freezing cold.

Your better off stopping and waiting for crews to salt/sand the road. If your going someplace where they are used to that kind of weather, then they will know how to take care of the roads. If you hit an ice storm in Florida, then your in trouble. In New England, they would have salt and sand on the roads hopefully before it starts. Point being you won't need them - I live in New England, own 4 cars - but not one set of tire chains. I drive 500 miles a week year round commuting to work.

Edit - 4 wheel drive won't help on ice. Been there done that.
4 wheel drive on snow is a different matter.

Yeah, tires chain really do help with the traction, but is illegal to use in most states.... It basically, ruins the pavement on the streets....

Tire chains work, but are illegal in most states, like said above. They also are a hassle...too much so to bother using, unless you're driving a big 18-wheeler (and even some of those truckers don't use them)...try snow tires, or ask your friends that live in those local regions (if they do live around there) what they would suggest.

Tire chains help, but like the other guy said you cant use them in most places. If you are really worried about it rent a SUV or a Subaru for your trip. If you cant do that, get some good snow tires and drive carefully.

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