Onspot automatic tire chains: What mechanics need to know

Written by Leonard D'Orlando,

Whether you are a mechanic that has years of experience with Onspots or new to the automatic tire chain system, what follows are some tips and advice on the proper maintenance and operation of Onspots.

Maintenance should be as easy as operation. Mechanics often tell me this, and it is true. The first step in setting up your Onspot maintenance program is to determine if the complete chain units will be on the vehicle year-round and how many miles/hours the vehicle averages in the year. If the complete system is left on then you should expect to be servicing the system more frequently, possibly even between regular PM services. Pivot points will need grease, chain link wear and chain wheel bearing play will need to be checked, as well as proper alignment of the chain wheel to the tire side wall.

Operation should be as easy as maintenance. Whether the complete chain system is left on year-round or not, proper operation is just as vital to the longevity of the system. As easy as the system is to operate it is always best to reinforce when and when not to use the system, in what conditions, and at what speeds. Information and videos on proper operation can be found on our website and we encourage fleets to provide training to drivers before or even throughout the season as time permits. If the chain systems are to be left on year-round drivers need to be aware that these units are often times the lowest points on the vehicle. Also, if the system is to be “exercised” in the off season which we encourage, it is recommend accomplishing this by engaging and disengaging the chain system on a dirt or gravel road for around ten seconds.

Taking off the chain system. This is not just another option, but one that helps to promote longevity of the chain units. In most cases, the left-side and right-side chain assemblies can be removed by simply undoing two nuts and bolts on both sides, leaving the mounting brackets attached to the vehicle. By storing the chain units, you will have the advantage of being able to “bench” test them when time permits, as well as grease, adjust, repair and/or replace anything needed. Yet another quicker option is to simply take the left-side and right-side chain wheels off and store them. If the chain wheels are directional you will want to mark them left and right. The advantage of taking off the chain wheels is the fact that you will be removing 10-12 lbs. of weight from the arms. This will prolong the life of the arm pivot points and chain wheel bearings. Some words of caution if you go this route are to disable power to the operating system to prevent engagement and still remember to grease the arm pivot points when the vehicle comes in for a PM as they will still be exposed to the elements and temperature fluctuations.

New fleets to the Onspot system. When new fleets are interested in Onspots they often rely on their mechanics to gather up all the necessary information about the auto chain system. In addition to all the information previously mentioned be aware that to determine the proper chain unit parts the vehicle(s) will need to be measured. The VSI or Vehicle Suspension Information forms for all the various suspensions can be found on our website. These forms can easily be filled out by you, the mechanic or one of our dealers. There are a few things to be aware of if you choose to fill these forms out. First and most important is that all pages of the form need to be filled out completely. All measurements should be taken to at least the 1/4” if not an 1/8”. There are also additional considerations to be aware of when measuring tandem axle vehicles as well as “sister” vehicles. Please follow the link below for additional information on measuring vehicles and remember that you can always contact an Onspot representative for additional assistance.


Snow chain For Mechanics Maintenance Automatic Snow Chains onspot Service blog posts automatic tire chains Fleet Maintenance Onspot service All about automatic snow chains All about automatic tire chains VSI Form

Leonard D'Orlando

About Leonard D'Orlando

Leonard has six years with Onspot Automatic Tire Chains in North America. Four years as a field technician on the East Coast and two years as a Regional Sales Manager. During the four years as a field technician Leonard provided install and maintenance training to dealers. Leonard also performed fleet reviews for customers and provided technical service support. An alumnus from the University of Maine, Leonard graduated with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Education. Leonard also attended Texas State Technical College where he earned an associate’s degree in automotive mechanics.


Subscribe to blog updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

Se all

Follow us