ProCarReviews is reader-supported. We may earn commission on sales through our links at no extra cost to you. View policies.

best tire chains

The Best Tire Chains 2019

The best way to improve your traction whilst driving on snow or ice is to use tire chain that are mounted on a set of winter tires. They simply attach to either of the wheels or just the ones that apply the power (front or rear wheel drive).

The best tire chains are the Security Chain Super Z6 Set, which are available in multiple sizes and are suitable for limited clearance vehicles.

Tire chains for snow and ice are something that can be stored easily in the car for when traction is an issue. There are various designs that suit all vehicles from trucks to cars and selecting the correct type will make a huge difference.

Tire Chains Comparison

Tire ChainsTire WidthClearance
SZ143 Super Z6215mm to 285mm6.33mm
ZT729 Super Z LT215mm to 265mm6.33mm
Konig K-SUMMIT195mm to 295mm0mm
Peerless Auto-Trac205mm to 275mm6.33mm
Sanku165mm to 265mm0mm
Glacier 1046135mm to 275mm6.33mm

Tire chains are not an essential piece of equipment for all drivers as conditions may vary from state to state. However, if you know snow and ice is on the way, it’s highly recommended that you invest into a quality set of tire chains.

One of the main factors to consider is how much clearance there is because if the tire chains collide with your fender, it’ll be a costly repair.

Below is a list of the best tire chains that will provide maximum traction in snow or ice and are suitable for all vehicles.

The Best Tire Chains


1. Security Chain Company Super Z6 Tire Chains


The Security Chain Company is the most popular brands in the snow chains industry and for good reason too. They produce a wide variety of chains to suit all passenger vehicles from cars, pickups, SUV’s and much more. They are even compatible with cars with limited wheel clearance, which is a huge benefit of sporty vehicles.

Unlike many of the cheaper alternatives, these are designed are a rubber cable construction that sit tighter and need no tightening once installed.

Other features of the Security Chain Company Super Z6 include:

  • Sizes to suit all vehicles
  • Fast to install and doesn’t require moving of the vehicle
  • In-rubber tightener for easy adjustment
  • Fits tire widths that range from 215 to 285 mm
  • Only require 6.33 mm of sidewall clearance
  • Includes a nylon storage bag and gloves

They are the best tire chains for cars that are versatile and available in several sizes to suit your requirements. They are designed to be high performing (rated class “S”) when used with anti-lock brakes, traction control and other vehicle configurations.

Check it Out

2. Security Chain Company Super Z LT Snow Chains


Tire chains for trucks can be difficult to find but the Security Chain Company also provide a solution for this. The¬†Super Z LT are designed for light trucks and SUV’s and meet the S.A.E class “S” for clearance requirements.

As with the Super Z6 for cars, these also use the same rubber cable construction that are far more durable than conventional chains or cables. However, the brand also state that these are even more heavy duty, which is required for the heavier trucks.

Other features of the Security Chain Company Super Z LT include:

  • Additional rubber tensioner for quick adjustments
  • 215 to 265 mm tire width
  • Require 6.33 mm clearance
  • Easy to use and setup
  • Suitable for electronically monitored control systems
  • Rugged design for heavy duty usage

The Super Z LT by the Security Chain Company are the best tire chains for trucks. They use a more heavy duty design with an additional rubber tensioner when compared to the car specific alternative.

Check it Out

3. Konig K-SUMMIT K23 Tire Snow Chains


If you want the ultimate set of tire chains for snow and ice, then the Konig K-SUMMIT K23 are the best option. They use a ratcheting system that automatically self adjusts and tightens as you drive with an advanced geometric design.

The Konig brand were bought out by the Thule brand in 2004 and they are known for their premium quality roof cargo boxes. These tire chains follow the same superior build quality and even come with an impressive 5 year warranty for peace of mind.

Other features of the Konig K-SUMMIT K23 include:

  • Doesn’t require any clearance behind the wheel
  • Suitable for tire widths between 195mm to 295mm
  • Fit to the lug nuts with no contact with the alloy wheel
  • O-Norm 5117, UNI 11313 and TUV certified
  • Not suitable for off-road usage
  • Special injection-moulded plastic plates
  • Hard metal studs and special steel chain

Although these tires chain are some of the best available, they do come with an¬†expensive price tag. However, if you find yourself driving on snow and ice regularly, the Kong K-SUMMIT K23 is a worthwhile investment that won’t disappoint.

Check it Out

4. Peerless Auto-Trac Tire Traction Chains


Another set of tire chains by the Security Chain brand are the Peerless Auto-Trac, which meet the class “S” clearance requirements. They use a self tightening ratcheting system and are easy to install and will remove completely in minutes.

Compared with the alternative tire chains, these use a diamond pattern, which are designed to provide better grip in the snow. However, the downside of this pattern is that they are limited to 30 MPH but this wouldn’t be an issue in heavy snow.

Other features of the Security Chain Peerless Auto-Trac include:

  • Suitable for heavy snow
  • Limited to 30 MPH
  • Require 6.33 mm clearance
  • Compatible with tires widths of 205mm to 275mm
  • Self-tightening ratchets
  • Easy to install and remove in minutes

They are the best snow chains for heavy snow with a range of different sizes to choose from. However, if you are planning on driving on icy or muddy surfaces, the alternative tire chains by the Security Chain brand are the better option.

Check it Out

5. Sanku Tire Snow Chains


If you are on a budget and only want a set of tire chains for emergencies, then the Sanku set are the best option. They are universal and fit tire widths that range between 165mm to 265mm, which is suitable for most cars, trucks and SUV’s.

These tire snow chains are limited to speeds of up to 25 MPH and are designed to be used to gain traction during small driving distances.

Other features of Sanku Tire Chains include:

  • Resistant to temperatures of -50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Compatible with tires widths between 165mm and 265mm
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Super anti-skid nail construction
  • Includes gloves and tools

Overall, the Sanku Tire Chains are a cheap option that are ideal for storing inside of your trunk for emergency use. They are limited to just 25 MPH and are primarily designed for gaining traction of snow, which may limit their usage.

Check it Out

6. Glacier 1046 Cable Tire Chains


Another affordable and popular option are the Glacier 1046 cable tire chains, which are lightweight and easy to install. They are constructed of hardened steel rollers on cable cross members, which can withstand years of usage.

The brand state that they will not void any vehicle warranties and they also meet all state requirements for cable traction devices.

Other features of the Glacier 1046 Chains include:

  • Type “S” limited clearance
  • Suitable for both front and rear wheel drive cars
  • Ladder style cable chain
  • Durable storage bag included
  • Galvanised coating for rust resistance
  • Reduced noise and vibration
  • Suitable for 135 to 275 tire widths

The Glacier 1046 snow tire chains are easy to use and designed to withstand the toughest of conditions. Compared to many cheaper alternatives, they also meet all the state requirements and don’t void any vehicle warranties.

Check it Out

Tire Chains Buying Guide

Tire chains are designed for snow, ice and even off-road use if stated by the manufacturer. They are designed to help improve traction by using the chained or cable construction.

Before you purchase any tire chains for your car, you’ll want to ensure that they are compatible. Some vehicles may have complex traction control systems, which could be expensive to repair if they became damaged. They could also be located too close to the fender or brake pipes when installed.

To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding tires chains.

snow tire chains

Compatibility

As mentioned above, your vehicle may not be compatible with tires chains. This is due to them either not clearing the fenders or causing issues with the traction control system.

If the handbook states the against the installation of traditional snow chains, you should opt for the “ladder track” type of tire chains. These fit all cars and it’s just a matter of finding the right size for your vehicle tires.

Snow chains usually come in pairs and are installed in the driving wheels, which is either front or rear wheel drive. However, many people prefer to fit them on non-driving wheels too as it helps to improve the vehicles stability.

Once the tire chains have been installed, you will want to select correct driving mode. If you have an old car, the only option you will have is to turn the traction control off.

Tire Size

Despite most cars being compatible with the installation of snow chains, you will need to ensure you choose the correct size. The most important measurement is the tires width, which you can find on the sidewall of your tire.

All brands will state the tire width requirements, which range from as small as 135 mm to as wide as 325 mm. Trying to stretch the chains on a larger tire may not provide the expected results that you desire.

Clearance

When you install tire chains to your vehicle, it will add to the overall size of the tire. This can be an issue for some vehicle that have low ground clearance. All brands will state a clearance measurement, which you should check out before purchasing.

Installing tire chains that are too large could cause damage to the fender whilst travelling over bumps whilst turning the wheel.

Entry Levels

Most large tire chain manufacturers will offer various tire chains based upon their classification. These will include entry level, standard, premium and alternative traction. If you are faced with minor snow and ice, the entry level alternatives are ideal. However, for bad snow and ice conditions the premium type is the best option.

The alternative traction is a misunderstood type but in short, it’s designed for car with low profile tires. In order to avoid damage to the alloy, the design differs from standard chains because there is less rubber available for the chain to attach too.

chains for snow tires

Cables vs Chains

Certain brands may opt to use either chains or cables within the construction. Most snow tire chains will use metal chain links that are designed to withstand the harshest of conditions and are galvanized in order to prevent rust. They are then linked together, which creates a mesh that wraps around the tire for traction.

The alternative option is to use cable chains, which use a steel cables that create a webbing to cover the tires. The benefit of this type is that they require less clearance and are often easier to use due to their lightness. However, they won’t provide as much traction compared to metal chain links.

Categories

When using tire chains for cars, SUV’s or trucks, you will want to check the category. Most passenger cars will use tire chains that are rated as SAE class “S”, which is designed for cars with restricted clearances. If there is no restrictions as such, these tire chains will be rated as SAE class U.

Chain Patterns

To complicate things even further, tire chains also come in several different chain patterns. These include ladder, diamond, square and diagonal patterns. The ladder style is the most common and they can be used for snow or ice and off-road use in most cases.

Diamond patterns offer superior traction in heavy snow but they limit you to the speed that you can travel. Diagonal chains are very much similar to diamond and square chains are similar to the ladder style but both are less common than diamond and ladder chains.

Self-Tensioning

Securing the tire chains can be tricky in certain situation but having a self-tensioning design ensures they are correctly tightened. The mechanism removes any slack by tightening the chains as the tires begin to move. If you were to use a manual tensioning cable, you will need to re-tighten the cables after you drive, which can be time consuming.

It’s also advised that you purchase additional tensioners if they are not already included within the kit because they can fail.

Automatic Release

During your journey, you may only come across snow or ice on certain parts of your drive. Therefore, you will want to be able to easily remove the tire chains at the side of the road. The best way to quickly and easy take them off is to use the automatic release mechanism. It will more than half the time spent taking them off manually and worth paying the extra for.

When to Use Tire Chains

Whenever there is too much snow or ice on the road, the use of snow chains is highly recommended. Depending upon where you live will determine on how well the roads are cleared. Most kits include gloves, which allow you to easily put the tire chains on as and when you need them.

It’s highly advised that you take them for a short test run before driving long distances as this will ensure they are installed correctly. You will experience minor vibrations but it shouldn’t be too much that it makes it impossible to drive the car.

chains for truck tires

Driving with Chains on the Wheels

The handbooks come with precise instructions on how to use the car with tire chains. Due to most manufacturers requiring different setups, below is a brief guide to using tire chains:

  • Always have the anti-skid or traction control turned off.
  • You should continuously drive at speeds of less than 30 MPH.
  • Slowing down around bends is critical
  • Fast acceleration and braking are highly discouraged.
  • Drive slowly since spinning the wheels could lead to damage.
  • If the chain is broken or dented, immediately stop and take them off.
  • Always check for worn out connectors when removing the chains.
  • Before storing the chains, always clean and dry them.

Conclusion

Traction can be a real issue when travelling on snow or ice but introducing tire chains can solve all your issues. Simply storing them in the trunk will ensure you are equipped for all driving conditions. Even when using winter tires, you can still find yourself getting caught out by large amounts of snow or ice. Installing tire chains can make the difference of being stranded or driving wherever you want.

There are many different types of tire chains but not everyone will need to spend large amounts on the best tire chains. However, if you are travelling in bad conditions on a regular basis, we highly recommend the premium examples.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *