Here we are again, in the depths of the winter months, ice and snow on the roads, not too much of a problem for us 4×4 drivers, that’s one of the benefits of having these vehicles is it not. Usually we cope just fine, but occasionally the weather can catch us all out with a heavy fall of snow and the AWD system of the car may need a little help do its stuff . The larger 4×4 tend to have less trouble with the weight of the vehicle helping out on the traction front, but even these trucks can struggle with steering on compacted snow and ice, this is the point that you need to fit your snow chains or variants.
In some European countries it is a legal requirement to carry snow chains or their equivalents throughout the winter months, parts of Spain being one believe it or not, as they suffer regular heavy snow in the northern mountainous regions.
The term “snow chains” in today’s market must be used loosely as there is a huge choice of these accessories for your vehicle type and many are no longer made of metallic chains. Over recent years new designs & developments have brought to the market easy fit and self-tensioning products made from canvas, plastics, rubber and metals, with some manufacturers using varied combinations of these materials.
We have put together a review of a small selection on the market today to give you an idea of what is available and what points you need to consider before handing over that hard earned cash.
All prices quoted are per pair.
Thule K – Summit and Thule K-Summit XXL
The Thule K- Summit Snow Chain is suitable for every kind of vehicle with very limited clearance behind the wheel. The innovative ratchet system permits effortless fitting. The chain ratchet’s onto the wheel bolt and the correct wheel bolt for your car is supplied with the chains. When fitted the K-Summit will centralise onto the tyre automatically when you move off so there is no need to stop and adjust. Unlike a conventional cable chain there is no chain components behind the wheel so there is no danger of the chain interfering with the modern cars ABS brake and suspension electronics. The K-Summit XXL is the snow chain for the big 4×4 and SUV vehicles and the extra foldable arms are designed to take the extra weight of the 4×4, otherwise the K-Summit XXL preforms in exactly the same way as the car chain.
Priced around £390
THULE Self Tensioning Snow Chains
The new Thule CS-9 snow chain as showed here the smartest snow chain with automatic release. The 9mm tread clearance means that is suitable for many large profile wheels and tyres and the self-tensioning system means just one stop to fit the chain. To remove the chains from the tyre just pull the external red button and the chain fall automatically fall to the ground. For the 4×4 and SUV car we would recommend the Thule XG-12 Pro snow chain, which is self tensioning and has a 12mm inside tread clearance and welded double-traction plates to increase grip on the snow.
Priced around £179.00
UNIVERSAL Multi Grip Snow Socks
Lightweight and budget priced effective alternative to chains, with a universal easy fit for vehicles with shallow wheel arch clearance. Approved for use in French ski resorts as chain alternatives, and can be washed before stowing away after use. These are not recommended for use on any clear road surface to avoid product damage.
Priced around £60
Snobootz consist of a durable fabric boot which wraps around the tire. Rubber traction pads are bonded to the fabric which are embedded with steel cleats to offer aggressive ice-clawing traction. Independent university tests show the Snobootz are about 20 % faster than snow chains from zero to 20 mph on a full-size SUV, 66 % faster to install and at one-third the weight of chains, Snobootz are easier to handle and store. They’re not cheaper than chains, but they are faster, easier and safer.
Priced around £170
Michelin Easy Grip Y11
The Y11’s are a composite construction alternative to chains with a high durability, excellent performance on snow and ice alike. With a low profile they are compatible with limited wheel arch clearance, ABS systems, approved as chain replacements with availability in various sizes to suit your vehicle and taking around 5 minutes to fit.
The centre disk of the fitting straps is reflective, giving better night visibility of the vehicles side profile, speed is recommended not to exceed 30mph.
The set of chains also come in a handy storage bag for the boot of the car. Taking everything into account, performance, construction and price, we think these are a good buy.
Priced around £130
Again a modern equivalent to the chain constructed from polyurethane plastics and stainless steel. The claw is made up of three sections that strap together around the tyre.
It is recommended to try before you need due to sizing of the plastic straps that must be cut down on first fitting.
These units are said to be fitted in around five minutes, we took 7 minutes each side, you can however fit without having to move the vehicle.
The claws can be used in snow, mud and sand relatively lightweight and very tough.
Clearance can be an issue for low arches and brake hose proximity at the rear of the tyre. We advise caution on these two points.
The product has been rigorously tested over 10 years with speeds up to 50 mph, under an armored Hummer for 200 miles and although not recommended, covered 500 miles on a hot tarmac road with very little wear.
The system gives 50-60% more surface area of grip per sq. inch per revolution than chains and is a patented design, manufactured by Flex-Trax in the US.
Priced around £175.
MITA next generation snow chains
At time of publishing, not yet available in Europe.
Currently available from Mita snow chains USA. They can be used as a single strap or doubled up on each tyre.
See the demonstration video below;
Priced around £240