Snow chains are not a common accessory for the Spanish, especially the further south they live. For this reason, it is common for us to make various mistakes when mounting the chains, which can end up being a problem when it comes to driving 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 replacement lights, oil, or engine coolant to this lot. And the least, some snow chains accompany this kit.
Anyway, the latter is not strange. Spain is not a country that is particularly affected by ice and snow during the winter, except in specific areas of the country and at times when the weather becomes especially harsh. In these cases, it is reasonable to have chains in the trunk, especially if you plan to drive through areas known to cause problems with snow and ice. However, it is also not strange that when it comes to using the chains we mess up resoundingly 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 Not learning to place the chains beforehand
The experiments, with soda. And just as we are not going to take a walk with brand new shoes, we should not wait for it to snow to put the chains on our car for the first time. Therefore, it is advisable to experience the placement of these chains in the tranquility of our home, seeing how 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 we should proceed with the assembly.
#2 Placing the chains incorrectly
It is useless to buy the best snow chains if we do not install them correctly. Snow chains should always be attached to tires that drive. So the usual thing is to place them on the front wheels, except in rear-wheel drive vehicles, in which the chains move to this axis. In case you have a 4 x4, if you can dump the traction on one axle, this will be the one 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 place 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. It is necessary that we look for a safe location to proceed with the assembly of the chains. This area should be flat, as far as possible, and not be too slippery or excessively snow-laden, since all this can end up being a problem when proceeding with the installation of the chains.
#4 Not wearing 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 moisture, both on the ground and in the wheel arches and in the tire itself. All of these items 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 Not checking the mount
Once we have mounted the chains on the vehicle, it is necessary to travel a few meters, about 100 is enough, and stop the vehicle again to verify the assembly. In the case of traditional metal chains, it is possible that we have to slightly tighten the assembly, which can also happen in semi-automatic chains. In the case of textile chains, this verification is intended to check that the covers are correctly placed on the wheel, properly stretched and that there are no folds or other inconveniences in assembly. In case of not complying with this verification, we run the risk that the chains will be incorrectly assembled 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 the 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, regardless of the road we are on. But this does not mean that we should 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 to the one that allows us to keep the vehicle safely on the road.
#7 Not removing the chains on time
Snow chains, as their name suggests, are designed for driving on snow. For this reason, they must be removed at the moment when 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 pattern 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 on the bottom to roll on. So it is essential to remove the chains when they are no longer necessary.