Automatic tire chains - limitations and precautions

Written by Eric Jones,

There is no such thing as 'the perfect traction aid.' All different methods for increasing traction have their specific advantages. Accordingly, your choice of traction aid should be the optimal compromise for your personal needs, taking into account the features and benefits the different methods offer. When deciding on your traction aid, excluding options due to limitations or other cons could be one approach. So, which are the limitations of automatic tire chains?

Despite the fact that automatic tire chains by most experienced users are considered the most convenient and preferred choice, there are drawbacks you should be aware of.

Installation required
To function, automatic tire chains need to be properly installed. And, for a correct installation, a skilled mechanic is needed for 4-6 hours. This means vehicle standstill at the workshop and a cost for having the job done. However, this is a one-time cost, and a way to avoid installation hassle is to order the vehicle with automatic snow chains mounted from the manufacturer or bodybuilder.

Advanced mechanics
In practice, automatic tire chains are a mechanical system – including actuators, chain wheels, compressed air and electronics. All these components must cooperate to make the automatic tire chains work. Consequently, compared with conventional chains, there is a risk of component failure, which may jeopardize function. However, the system is proven and very sturdy, and failure is very rare.

Some maintenance is required. To keep the system in good working condition, it needs to be engaged regularly (typically once a month). Some users even unmount the entire system in the spring and remount it when winter strikes.

Not for all slippery road conditions
The automatic tire chains are not effective in deep snow, or in muddy conditions. Typically, snow deeper than 4 inches will reduce effectiveness, and at 6 inches or deeper, they become ineffective. Also, in deep mud they will be ineffective.

Speed limitations
Even if slippery conditions as such indicate slower speed, when the automatic tire chains are engaged, driving speed is limited to 35mph.

An investment
The investment cost for automatic tire chains is relatively high – approx. USD2,000 per drive axle. Although such initial cost may seem daunting, it must be spread over many years of driver's convenience and safety – and numerous occasions when delays due to slippery road conditions will be avoided.

Browse the free online resource; All about automatic tire chains, to learn more. 


All about automatic tire chains

Eric Jones

About Eric Jones

Eric is the Global Sales Director for the Onspot brand. He has over 15 years of industry experience and received an MBA from Ball State University. Eric enjoys spending time with his wife and two children and being active outdoors. On the weekend, you can normally find Eric enjoying a craft beer with food sizzling on the grill.


Subscribe to blog updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

Se all

Follow us