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Old 11-05-08, 02:29 PM   #1
Joe Gardner
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What snow chains to buy?

Who makes the best? I'm 100% clueless when it comes to snow chains, I have never put them on before, I have never driven a car with them on etc...

I have a '06 VW Jetta, front wheel drive. Can I get away with just chains for the front wheels?
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Old 11-05-08, 02:33 PM   #2
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meh any chains will do... make shure they very strong though... my dads broke once also it will get away with the frnt ones only i think.... unless its like 2-5ft snow lolz
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Old 11-05-08, 02:34 PM   #3
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I would ask Pcad, or check here

http://tirechain.com/
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.

Last edited by jsharr; 11-05-08 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 11-05-08, 03:02 PM   #4
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front wheel drive, yes you can get away with using chains on the front. I have used the standard cable chain for many years without any problems, they are fairly straight forward to put on.
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Old 11-05-08, 03:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Joe Gardner View Post
Who makes the best? I'm 100% clueless when it comes to snow chains, I have never put them on before, I have never driven a car with them on etc...

I have a '06 VW Jetta, front wheel drive. Can I get away with just chains for the front wheels?
Whatever you do, be sure to not buy them until you're within spitting distance of the chain installation area. You'll get a great deal!
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Old 11-05-08, 03:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Gardner View Post
Who makes the best? I'm 100% clueless when it comes to snow chains, I have never put them on before, I have never driven a car with them on etc...

I have a '06 VW Jetta, front wheel drive. Can I get away with just chains for the front wheels?
With a FWD, you only need the chains on the front.

One of the easiest to install, and best gripping (IMO) is the Security Chain(tm) Cable Chains.
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Old 11-05-08, 06:39 PM   #7
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i recommend a snow tire (brand name = gislaved) w/ studs at all 4 corners; no need for chains, imo

alot more $ but change them in the spring and store; they will last many snow seasons
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Old 11-05-08, 07:06 PM   #8
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i recommend a snow tire (brand name = gislaved) w/ studs at all 4 corners; no need for chains, imo

alot more $ but change them in the spring and store; they will last many snow seasons
I rotate a dedicated set of studded snows on my wifes Passat during the winters and it works very well for most conditions.
The problem is, after Nov. 1st here in Utah, chains or 4wd are required to get up any of the canyons to go skiing if the snow is packing on the roads.

Joe, chains on the fronts will be fine. These Thule tire chains work great on my wifes Passat and they are easy to set up.

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Old 11-05-08, 07:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Gardner View Post
Who makes the best? I'm 100% clueless when it comes to snow chains, I have never put them on before, I have never driven a car with them on etc...

I have a '06 VW Jetta, front wheel drive. Can I get away with just chains for the front wheels?
I thought you guys were moving to Costa Rica???

As to your question, most people put snow chains on the front tires only for a front wheel drive vehicle. Not sure what the benefit would be if you put them on the back as well. Just to be on the safe side, check your owner's manual to find more info.
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Old 11-05-08, 07:50 PM   #10
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I prefer leather restraints in cold weather.
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Old 11-05-08, 08:40 PM   #11
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I bought mine at Pep Boys. They're easy to put on, self tightning and hold the road well. I don't remember the brand name, I think they only cary one brand though
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Old 11-05-08, 10:17 PM   #12
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Joe, I lived in and learned how to drive in one of the worst places for snow, Southern CA.

Before you laugh, the So Cal mountains got a respectable amount of annual snowfall, but unlike beautiful Colorado or Utah with the powdery dry snow, the SoCal mountains are just 90 miles inland, and the snow falls like cement due to the moisture picked up off the coast. Snow chains were an absolute necessity. Here's a few tips from my experiences:

-Whatever chains you do choose, don't wait til you're in dire need to put them on for the first time. You'll either piss off the locals or find out you bought the wrong size and be stuck.

-On dry pavement, install your chains and size them. This is best accomplished by laying them out in front of or behind the tires you wish to install them on, then driving onto them. Wrap them around the tire as tight as you can, making sure to secure the end of any extra links by hooking them in the locking link. Advanced tip: cut off those extra links so they don't beat the hell out of your fenderwells. The next time you go to install them you'll be able to hook the end of the links and be done.

-Chains with reinforcing bars last the longest. These are most often only available in Light Truck chains, but the effort to cut down a set for your passenger car is well worth it in traction. The ride will suck, but it sure beats not moving.

-If possible, whether your vehicle is a 4X4 or a 2X4, chain up all four wheels. The last time I bought studded tires, the dealer said that they no longer sell them in pairs. On a RWD vehicle they are needed for steering, on a FWD they prevent the light rear end from losing traction and swapping ends. The safety factor is crucial.

-Buy chain adjusters. These are basically just big rubber bands with hooks, but on cars with tight fenderwell clearance, they'll prevent a lot of damage when the chains expand to a larger diameter at speed. Advanced tip: If the adjusters seem to big, cross them in an X pattern for a tighter fit.

-Throw a small tarp, an old shower curtain or some sort of waterproof ground covering into your chain bag. It'll always be in the worst conditions when chaining up. Other items to include: a snowsuit, waterproof and warm gloves, thin gloves for manual dexterity when hooking that back fastener, snowboots and a small shovel.

-It is possible to remove a single crosslink and still get good performance with chains. One advantage to this is speed. If you can remove a single crosslink and wrap the chains around the tire from the top instead of having to drive onto them, it's a bit faster, and in conditions where you're already stuck, it can get you unstuck.

-Other handy things to include in your kit: bolt cutters, baling wire and/or spare split links, spare crosslinks, a spare chain adjuster. A broken crosslink can really tear up your bodywork. Make sure you carry something to secure one.

-I don't mean to insult your intelligence, but on more than one occasion I saw chains installed on the rear of a FWD, and vice-versa. Chains always go on the drive wheels, but as stated, preferably on all four.

-Some vehicles only have clearance for cable chains. While adequate, they aren't as effective as true chains in really sloppy snow.

-Pull well out of traffic when installing chains. Far too many times I came upon someone trying to figure out how to install chains for the first time while blocking both lanes at the bottom of an icy hill. Fortunately for them I already had mine installed, otherwise they'd be dead.

-Don't wait until you get stuck or conditions are "bad enough to need chains" before installing them. You can typically wear out ten sets of chains driving them "before they're needed" before approaching the cost of one insurance deductible for an accident.

-Studded snow tires may seem expensive, but they're worth it. On glare ice they'll outperform chains for braking. In deep and/or slushy snow, chains do better. Yes, I've installed chains over studded tires.

Hope that helps.
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Old 11-05-08, 10:27 PM   #13
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There was nothing funny or sarcastic about your post Word, other than that part about the guy at the bottom of the icy hill almost being dead. That was almost funny.

Your post was well written, cogent and informative. This is very out of character for you. Are you drinking again?

I am concerned.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 11-05-08, 11:52 PM   #14
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-Whatever chains you do choose, don't wait til you're in dire need to put them on for the first time. You'll either piss off the locals or find out you bought the wrong size and be stuck.
Absolutely. Les Schwabb sold me the wrong size last winter and I didn't bother trying them out because seriously, how hard can it be to cross reference tire size to chain part number on their computer?

Even with the chain adjusters I couldn't pull all the slop in. The chains were ruined in a single use and I still need to fix the mess they made of my fender paint.
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Old 11-06-08, 12:08 AM   #15
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There was nothing funny or sarcastic about your post Word, other than that part about the guy at the bottom of the icy hill almost being dead. That was almost funny.

Your post was well written, cogent and informative. This is very out of character for you. Are you drinking again?

I am concerned.
You see, this issue is one I am obviously passionate about.

Other than that:

-Of course I'm drinking.
-If you don't throw out a cogent post every once in a while, your off-camber posts mean nothing.
-I may actually care about visitors to snow country being safe.
-Pumpkin Porter is much better than you might think.
-I learned the hard way and would like others to learn from my wisdom.
-I like pie.
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Old 11-06-08, 11:03 PM   #16
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Thanks all, I was debating on buying some cable chains, but it sounds like real chains are the way to go. Great post wordbiker, much appreciated.

Costa Rica is still 6 months away, we are waiting for the snow to turn bad before we head south.
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Old 11-06-08, 11:14 PM   #17
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My next vehicle, I'm solving this problem two ways... AWD vehicle on my buy list, and a set of snow tires if I move north. I keep hearing about too many horror stories of bad snow chains.
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Old 11-06-08, 11:26 PM   #18
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I really wish I had an AWD vehicle! I was even playing with the idea of buying a used Subaru for ski season and selling it in the spring. Sounds like too much of a headache, so I scraped that idea.

We had to take the ski bus up the canyon about half a dozen times last year. Chains or a AWD vehicle would have solved that issue. No more bus for us this year!
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Old 11-06-08, 11:59 PM   #19
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My wife drives a Subaru Forester. Although it does very well with M/S tires, I made sure she has a set of studded tires on stock steel rims. Very easy to swap them out and her nice alloy wheels stay nice.

Fortunately my 4X4 truck gets around great without chains, but I do carry some weight in the back...and do have a set of chains for backup as well as all the tools and supplies I listed. Sad, but I also had a full set of Hankook studded tires on my Camry when I hit a deer and totaled it. Ooh...I need to list those for sale.
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Old 11-07-08, 06:58 AM   #20
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The deer had insurance and got totaled? How cool is that@!
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 11-07-08, 07:06 AM   #21
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Suggestion:

Get a cheap set of wheels and tires to mount the chains on.

You don't want to ruin the original set of wheels and your good road tires on your car for that.

When finnally out of the snow patch to the clear road, change tires into road tires.

When about to hit the snow; change tires to the chained set.

Much faster and virtually mess free.
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Old 11-07-08, 07:34 AM   #22
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You only need chains on the front, and I'd definitely recommend real chains rather than cables. They'll give you more traction and last longer but be careful of clearances with your wheel wells. Check your owners manual.

There is no way in hell you should consider carrying a set of tires with chains on them. You do NOT want to drive on chains on pavement -- the ride is beyond terrible, you have to go very slow, and your car doesn't like it. You also don't want to jack up a car on slick surfaces or snow. Mounting decent chains only takes a few minutes once you know what you are doing. There are design differences, and the good ones are much easier to use.

Traction tires help a lot, but there is no comparison between them and chains. Besides, there are many places where chains are required by law. Even if you're dumb enough to drive without them, you stand a great chance of getting stuck or causing an accident.
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