I have a 4 x 4, do I really need snow chains?
The answer is YES. While 4 x 4 vehicles offer superior grip over conventional 2 wheel drive systems, snow chains significantly increase the available traction, beyond that offered by even specialised snow tyres. In addition to this, when travelling abroad you will find police and local
authorities may prevent you from driving into many European ski resorts without snow chains.
How many snow chains do I need?
- Front wheel drive - 1 pair of snow chains fitted to front wheels
- Rear wheel drive - See note below
- 4 wheel drive - Ensure 4 wheel drive is engaged/1 pair of snow chains fitted to front wheels
All vehicles will benefit from snow chains fitted to all wheels to gain lateral grip, to either reduce understeer on rear wheel drive vehicles or to reduce oversteer on front wheel drive and 4 x 4 vehicles.
My vehicle is rear wheel drive, should I fit them on the steering or driving wheels?
With rear wheel drive cars, there are basically two options.
- The safer (but more expensive) option would be to run chains all round. This obviously gives consistent grip at both ends of the vehicle, and maximum resilience against harsh conditions.
- The alternative is to run chains just on the driven rear wheels. This ensures that the vehicle keeps moving forwards, but leaves you with reduced grip on the front of the vehicle. As a result, the vehicle will have an inherent tendancy to understeer. Conventional wisdom says that if a car is going to either under or oversteer, understeer is the safer option, as most competant drivers can easily assess the available grip, and any loss of control can normally be controlled easily by simply removing any throttle and brake that"s being applied until steering is regained.