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How to Install Tire Chains

Step-by-step Instructions  |  Checking for a Proper Fit  |  Helpful Hints  |  SAE Classifications

Step-by-step Instructions to Put on Tire Chains

Step 1

Step 1. Lay chains out flat and remove all twists and tangles. Arrange chains so that the side with the sharp open hooks is facing down and away from the tire.

Step 2

Step 2. Double-check to make sure that the sharp, open-hook side of the tire chains is facing down. Otherwise, if the hooks are facing up, they will eventually face toward the tire after the chains are installed, which may cause tire damage.

Step 3

Step 3. On one end of chains, identify the "C" hook (left) and the bow lever (right).

Step 4

Step 4. On other end of chains, make sure there is an equal number of free links on both sides.

Step 5

Step 5. Drive tire over the top of chains so that the bow-lever side of the chains is on the outer side of the tire and the "C"-hook side of the chains is on the inner side of the tire. Leave about 1 foot of chain off the tire.

Step 6

Step 6. On the inner side of the tire, take the "C" hook and hook it through the chain link on the other end of the chains.

Step 7

Step 7. Go to the front, take the bow lever and insert it through the chain link.

Step 8

Step 8. Then pull back on the bow lever. This will tighten the chains.

Step 9

Step 9. Pull bow lever past link, insert into link and release. After lever is hooked, check chains for a good, tight fit. Make sure chains are centered on tire, with the same number of free links on the inside and outside.

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Checking for a Proper Fit

  • Chains should be made as tight as possible by hand without using tools.

  • To check for a proper fit, try to slip a hand between tire and chain. If a hand can be slipped under a cross chain or a side chain with ease, then the chains are too loose.

  • If cross chains or side chains are loose fitting, open the outer bow lever, move the inner "C" hook to the next tighter link, move the bow lever to the next tighter link, re-close the bow lever, and re-check for tightness.

  • After installing tire chains, drive approximately 1/4 mile, stop and re-tighten if necessary.

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Helpful Hints for Using Tire Chains

For your convenience and safety:

  • Before purchasing tire chains, consult your vehicle's manual to see if snow chains can be used on your vehicle.

  • Make certain your tire chains are properly sized for your tires. A proper fit is key to performance.

  • Follow directions for installing tire chains. Apply as tightly as possible by hand for maximum chain life.

  • Be sure to pull off highway to safe place before installing, servicing, or removing tire chains.

  • Do not deflate tires to install tire chains.

  • Drive approximately 1/4 mile, stop and re-tighten. Extra links may be cut off or preferably retained on the fastener arm. Keep chains tight to snug throughout the operation. Only after re-tightening may rubber adjusters be applied. DO NOT USE adjusters on cable-style chains with both side-cables and cross-cables.

  • Do not exceed 30 m.p.h. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Avoid spinning or locking of wheels.

  • If a cross chain should fail, stop immediately. Repair or remove. DO NOT drive with a broken chain.

  • Avoid hitting curbs with tire chains.

  • Tire chains are not designed for towing vehicles.

Proper Fit Maximizes Chain Life*

Proper Fit:  

Green progress bar 100% Chain Life (max.)

Loose Fit**:  

Red progress bar 50% Chain Life

*When maximum speed is 30 m.p.h.
**Chains loosened by one link each side.

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Definitions of SAE Classifications

SAE Class "U" – Regular (non-reinforced) and lug reinforced passenger tire chains for vehicles with regular (non-restricted) wheel well clearances.

SAE Class "S" – Regular (non-reinforced) passenger tire chains and cables for vehicles with restricted wheel well clearances.

SAE Class "W" – Those passenger tire chains that use light truck components, as well as some light truck chains.

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