Snow chains are not a common accessory for Spaniards, especially the further south they live. For this reason, it is common for us to make various mistakes when assembling the chains, which can end up being a problem when riding safely.
Triangles, vest, jack, keys to change wheels … are some of the accessories that we carry in our vehicle and that guarantee mobility in the event of a puncture or minor breakdown. Some cautious users add spare lights, engine oil or coolant to this batch. And the least, accompany this kit some snow chains.
Anyway, the latter is not strange. Spain is not a country that is particularly affected by ice and snow during winter, except in specific areas of the country and in times when the weather becomes especially harsh. In these cases, it is reasonable to have chains in the trunk, especially if it is planned to drive through areas known to cause problems with snow and ice. However, it is not strange that when we have to use the chains we screw up loudly in the attempt. So that you can correct them, we are going to see the most frequent errors when placing the chains and how we can avoid them.
# 1 Do not learn to put the chains previously
The experiments, with soda. And just as we are not going to go for a walk with some brand-new shoes, we should not wait for snow to put the chains on our car for the first time. For this reason, it is advisable to experiment with the placement of these chains in the tranquility of our home, seeing the way in which the instructions indicate how to proceed. Thus, the day we have to do it for real, everything will be easier. A task in which it is key to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to proceed with the assembly.
# 2 Placing the chains incorrectly
There is no use buying the best snow chains if we don’t install them correctly. Snow chains should always be placed on the tires on which the traction is located. So the usual thing is to place them on the front wheels, except in rear-wheel drive vehicles, in which the chains are moved to this axis. In case you have a 4 x4, if you can turn the drive onto an axle, this will be where we must place the chains. If this is not possible, the ideal would be to mount them on all four wheels.
# 3 Not parking safely to put the chains
Although there is probably not much traffic in the area where we want to stop to place the chains, doing it in the middle of the road is an unnecessary risk. We need to find a safe location to proceed with the assembly of the chains. This area should be flat, as much as possible, and not be too slippery or overly loaded with snow, since all this can end up being a problem when installing the chains.
# 4 Don’t wear gloves
Snow chains are made of metal and other elements that can cause damage to our hands. Something that is also helped by the cold outside as well as the presence of snow and humidity, both on the ground and in the wheel arches and on the tire itself. All these elements can cause scratches and cuts to your hands during the process of putting the chains in place. To avoid this, it is essential that we use safety gloves suitable for our size and that they have the necessary protection to prevent moisture or any sharp edge from injuring our hands.
# 5 Do not verify the assembly
Once we have mounted the chains on the vehicle, it is necessary to travel a few meters, with about 100 enough, and stop the vehicle again to verify the assembly. In the case of traditional metal chains, we may have to slightly tighten the assembly, which can also happen in semi-automatic chains. In the case of textile chains, the purpose of this verification is to verify that the covers are correctly positioned on the wheel, properly stretched and that there are no folds or other inconveniences during assembly. In case of not complying with this verification, we run the risk that the chains are incorrectly mounted and “slip” on the tires, which can also be a serious risk, since they can get caught in the different moving parts of the vehicle.
# 6 Not respecting speed limits
All current snow chains, both the traditional metal ones, the fabric ones or the semi-automatic ones, have a very clear speed limit: 50 kilometers per hour. That is, as long as the chains are mounted on the tires, we should not exceed that speed, no matter the road we are on. But this does not mean that we must circulate at this speed, since it must be adjusted to the specific conditions of the section in which we are circulating. So if we are in a mountainous area with many curves, with a large amount of snow or with a steep slope, we will always have to adjust the speed at which we can safely keep the vehicle on the road.
# 7 Not removing the chains on time
Snow chains, as their name suggests, are designed for driving on snow. Therefore, they must be removed the moment the snow disappears from the road. The reason is twofold. In the case of traditional snow chains, the metal ones, the turning process with the chains damages the tires, both to the tread and to the studs. In the case of textile chains or other similar materials, these tend to deteriorate when they do not have a sufficient and compact layer of snow at the bottom on which to roll. So it is essential to remove the chains when they are not necessary.