When winter weather arrives, drivers have to make a big decision: snow tires or chains? This decision is even more difficult for drivers who will only be visiting a snowy area for a couple weeks, or who only see winter driving conditions when they head up to a ski hill on weekends. Most drivers realize that winter tires are the better choice, but hope to be able to sneak by with the cheaper chains, if they can.
Here’s some information to help drivers with the snow tires or chains decision.
The Benefits of Snow Chains
The best thing snow chains have going for them is that they’re cheap, especially compared to the cost of new snow tires. They’re also designed to provide traction for all sorts of winter road conditions, including compact snow, ice, and slush. When a driver will be dealing with days or weeks of dry roads in between winter conditions, he/she won’t have to worry about wearing down the tread of winter tires, either.
However, tire chains have drawbacks, too. They can be difficult to put on, especially the first few times or while in a blizzard with freezing temperatures. They can’t be driven on dry roads, so if road conditions change, the driver must stop to take them off (and may need to put them back on again a few days or hours later).
When choosing and learning to use tire chains, keep these tips in mind. The chains should be worn on the drive wheels (front tires for front-wheel drive cars, back wheels for rear-wheel drive, and all four tires for all-wheel drive). Drivers should also practice putting on tire chains at least once from the comfort of their garage or driveway; learning how to do this with freezing fingers and a face full of snow is not ideal.
The Benefits of Snow Tires
While they may be expensive, snow tires provide convenience and peace of mind for any driver facing snow, ice, or slush on the road. Once the snow tires are put on the car in late fall or early winter, they don’t need any attention, other than checking the air pressure, until spring. Drivers can face any road conditions with confidence.
Snow tires stop faster than all-seasons on ice, grip better on snow, and expel slush from their tread so that it doesn’t build up. The rubber also stays pliable even in below-freezing temperatures, unlike all-seasons, which can harden well before temperatures reach freezing levels. Check with your local car dealer for help deciding which tires are best for your vehicle.
Snow Tires Or Chains
Both snow tires and chains have benefits and drawbacks: which should a driver choose? If a driver lives in an area where winter road conditions last for months at a time, winter tires are the better choice. If he/she will only face snow and ice on the road during a few out-of-town trips, newer all-season tires paired with chains will suffice, as long as the driver follow the rules for safe snow and ice driving, too. Whether embarking on a short or long journey, drivers can be prepared by checking weather and road reports, carrying chains (even if the car already has snow tires), and packing a car emergency kit.
The safety of the passengers in a vehicle, as well as occupants of other vehicles, is in the hands of the driver. Be smart this winter season and use appropriate winter tires or chains.