Tire chains help you drive in snow and ice by giving your tires extra traction. But they can also cause problems if they’re loose.
A questionnaire survey of drivers who use metal tire chains showed that troubles when driving with them often occurred because the chains loosened. So NCAC advises you to learn how to apply and properly use chains and check if there’s any slack in the chains after driving a few hundred meters.
Damage to the Tires
When tire chains are loose, the metal links can rub against the tires and cause abrasion. This can result in reduced performance and possibly damage the tires themselves. If the chains are loose, they can also become tangled in other vehicle parts, creating an unsafe driving experience. Loose chains can also come into contact with the vehicle’s brake lines or suspension components, which can cause expensive damage and even impair functionality.
Checking the slack in your chains after applying them is very important. This can be done by pulling back on the bow lever, which will exert opposing force against the attached C link. Move the C link one or two links down and the bow lever up or down to tighten the chain. When the chain is tight enough, it will form a snug fit around the tire, and you should be able to put your finger between the chain and the tire. If the chain is not tight, pull over and try again. Always keep a few extra chain links on hand in case some loosen during the drive, and carry cable ties to secure any flopping chains to other chain links.
You should practice installing your chains on a flat surface to get the hang of it. It is also a good idea to have the car in neutral and to be at a complete stop when performing this procedure. Some manufacturers advise against putting chains on the front drive wheels while driving and recommend using them only on the rear wheels of four-wheel drives.
Tire chains are designed to dig into ice and snow, not pavement. If you use them on bare pavement, the chains can damage your tires and even the road itself. If you’re unsure whether the conditions are right to use chains, check local laws and consider pulling over in a safer location with more room to work.
When used properly, metal tire chains should not directly damage alloy rims. However, they can shift and slide if installed incorrectly or come loose during operation. This can lead to the chains rubbing against the rims, which can result in damage, such as scratches and scuffing. This can be minimized by following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and by ensuring that the chains are securely fastened to the tires.
Damage to the Vehicle
Just like your regular car tires, your chains generate a lot of friction between them and the road. If your chains are too loose, they can cause damage to both the tires and the vehicle. In some cases, this damage may be more serious than simply a few scratches on your wheels or suspension system. In extreme cases, it can result in a broken chain or even tire removal.
It is important to make sure that your chains are properly installed and that you check them frequently while driving with them. Ensure that the chains are properly fitted to your specific tire size and that you have enough clearance between the chains and other parts of your vehicle, such as the brake systems or undercarriage. It is also important to only use your chains when necessary and to follow local laws regarding their usage.
The most common trouble reported in questionnaire surveys for drivers who used tire chains was slack in the chains. NCAC suggests that slack in chains can cause the chains to jump and slam against the road or even the car body, potentially breaking them and damaging the vehicle.
Loose chains can also wind around the brake hose or cause them to lose their effectiveness. This can be extremely dangerous for you and other drivers on the road and may even lead to a fatal accident. In order to prevent this, you should always apply and remove your chains in a safe place, such as a parking lot or on a side street.
In addition, it is crucial to only use your chains when there is a sufficient amount of snow or ice covering the road and to drive slowly while using them. Driving too fast can damage the chains and the road itself, and driving on bare pavement with your chains on is never recommended.
When you are ready to put your chains on, begin by pulling over and removing the plastic instruction mat. Then, carefully untangle the chains and set them on your tire, starting with the yellow chain in the front right tire and then the blue one in the back. Once the chains are on, you should test drive them for a few minutes to make sure they are secure and not damaging the tires or the vehicle.
Increased Noise and Vibration
A loose set of chains will rattle and vibrate around your tires, which can be very annoying to anyone riding in the vehicle. Especially on rough roads, this can cause a very uncomfortable ride and may even cause damage to your tire. Loose chains also reduce their traction, so they’ll be less effective at gripping snow and other slippery surfaces.
To prevent this, always check the chain’s tightness before driving with them on. You can do this by laying out the chains flat and seeing how the open hooks are facing the ground and if the “C” hook is positioned correctly. You’ll also want to make sure the bungee on the red chain is in its tightest position. The C hook gets its name from the shape of the letter C and is the part that attaches to the bottom of the tire.
According to questionnaire survey results, a lot of trouble with tire chains occurs when they are loosened while driving. This can happen due to improper application of tire chains or the occurrence of a broken loose stopper. In a simulation test conducted by NCAC, loosened chains jumped and slammed against the road surface during driving, damaging the tires and body.
If your chains are loosened, you should pull over and tighten them, then drive on again until they are snug on the tire. The best way to ensure that your chains stay tight is to follow the instructions that come with them and to keep a close eye on them while driving.
The main thing to remember is that you should drive only as fast as the manufacturer recommends when using tire chains, which will usually be quite slow. Driving at high speeds quickly wears out the chains and reduces their effectiveness.
In addition, you should try to remove the chains as soon as possible after driving a long distance because they will be exposed to a lot of heat and friction. When they cool down, they will tighten and become more stable.
Damage to the Brakes
If your chains are loose enough that they start rubbing against other parts of the vehicle, it can cause damage to both the chains and the car. This can result in costly repairs and a less comfortable driving experience. It can also be a safety hazard, as the chains may suddenly come into contact with other vehicle components and cause injury to you or other road users.
If the chain is too loose, it can also cause damage to the brakes. This can happen if the chains are pulled on and off too quickly or if they catch on to other parts of the car, such as the brake lines, the suspension, or the wheel wells. The sudden impact can cause a loss of traction and force on the brakes, leading to reduced stopping distances and a spongy or soft brake pedal.
Lastly, if the chains are too loose and rub against the tires, they can cause uneven wear. This can lead to flat spots on the tires, reducing their traction and lifespan. To avoid this, make sure your tire chains are tight when you put them on and keep them that way throughout the duration of the snow season.
Slamming on the brakes is sometimes unavoidable, whether it’s another vehicle unexpectedly merging into your lane or a deer running into the road. But if you do it frequently, it can cause damage to your tires, rotors, and calipers. Slamming on the brakes also puts extra stress and strain on the tires, which causes them to wear down much faster than they should.
It’s important to remember that your brakes aren’t indestructible, and they will need to be replaced at some point. It’s even more important to have them inspected regularly by an expert, like the professionals at Les Schwab, to ensure that they are in good condition. Brake failure while driving can be extremely dangerous, so it’s important to maintain the integrity of all of your vehicles’ safety systems – starting with the brakes.