Some motorists may not be familiar with them, but tire chains for snowy, icy, and steep mountainous roads are common in some states. In some cases, particularly in the steep mountain passes of the Rockies, or slick lease sites tire chains are even required at certain points, never mind in some places it is legislation. You don’t have to be a trucking company to learn from this one!
When obtaining your tire chains, you must first make sure they will fit your tires. Most tire chain packaging has a guide that indicates which tires it fits. Never try to attempt to use chains that are too large or too small for the tire, as this could result in dangerous driving and damage to your vehicle.
Follow the Manufacturer’s instructions on the Tire Chain packaging during installation.
1. Practice installing your Tire Chains during dry conditions to make installation during winter conditions easier and to confirm that there is sufficient clearance and proper tire fitment.
2. ALWAYS pull off the roadway to a safe place to install or remove the Tire Chains. Set your vehicle’s handbrake and block 1 tire during the installation procedure.
3. Lay the chains on the ground beside the tire with the traction part of the chain facing upward and remove any tangles.
4. There are 2 common procedures to install Tire Chains:
· a) Lift the tire chains from the side closest to the vehicle and place the Tire Chains over the tire as centred as possible. Ensure the traction side of the tire chain is on the outside of the tire and stretch the chains, preventing tangles. Fasten the inside fastener as tight as possible and then fasten the outside fastener.
· b) The alternate procedure to install the tire chains is to drive your vehicle onto a small block of wood 2” x 4” (approximately 10” long) and repeat the instructions in 4a.
5. After the end fasteners have been attached drive the vehicle slightly forward so that the tire chain is now underneath the tire. Retighten the end fasteners to assure maximum tightness. Attach the Spider Bungee or the Rubber Tightener.
A few little reminders:
· Install Tire Chains as tight as possible as this will lengthen the life of the tire chains. Loose tire chains will also damage the vehicle.
· Do not exceed 50 km/h as the tire chains may break from excessive speed.
· Do not drive on bare pavement while using tire chains. This will cause premature wear and breakage.
Even on larger trucks we need to talk, The “Primary” drive axle is always the rear axle of a 3 axle tractor. The second set of chains go on your trailer axles, staggered. One chain on the front, left, outside tire and one on the right rear, outside tire.
Always hook the inside of the chains first and then tighten chains from the outside, and make sure they’re tight or you’ll lose them on the highway or they will beat up your fenders. Run for a mile or two, then re-tighten and you should be good to go.
Lock in your power divider, also called the “Inter-axle Differential”.
This will Provide maximum power to both drive axles. If your heavily loaded, you got it made when maximum chains are Installed. You can run through deep snow without a problem, even going uphill. If your running empty, it’s best to get a little run for hills.
Move a little extra weight to the steer axle by moving the fifth wheel forward a couple notches.
This will provide maximum traction for steering on slick roads. Also, use motor oil to lubricate the fifth wheel in cold weather. It makes it easier to turn on solid ice.
Always look far in the distance when driving in the snow and ice.
Especially look out for Morons… keep your distance from them or get around quick choosing your passing location strategically.
Always Remember to keep your chains tight.
When you install chains on your tires, make sure that you are properly attired and protected. You don’t want to risk getting frostbite or getting hit when working on a road’s shoulder. A good pair of work gloves and a reflective vest can help.
Remember to set your truck’s brakes properly before attempting to install chains. Don’t risk having your rig start slipping or rolling.
If you are installing snow chains on your truck as part of a team, always make certain that both of you are well away from the tires when the truck is pulled forward to finish installation.
1. The first thing I do is place the chain flat out on the ground as you can see. I’ve found this is the best way to start. Be sure the adjustment cams are placed facing outward on the outside of the tire, so they are easily accessed.
The tire chains have locking clips, which are a simple configuration. They’re relatively easy to hook up. They are used to fasten the entire chain down at the end of the process.
Some truckers place the chains on the tires by rolling ahead on the tire chains, and then fasten them up. I find it easier to just take a few seconds, by placing them down on the ground and draping them over the wheel.
2. I pick up the chain on the side farthest from me and then drape it up over the tire. When I pick it up, I grab it around the middle. Pick it up and drape it over the wheel, so the chain is distributed as evenly as possible over the tire. Be sure that the clips that secure the the cross chains are facing outward, in order that they don’t rub on the side wall of the tire.
3. Then, I reach in behind the duals to hook the inside clip of the tire chain. I find the fifth wheel hook a handy tool for this step. I use it to hook the inside clip, between the tires. I move the mudflap out of the way if necessary and reach in with the hook and grab the hook from the far side, and pull it forward, and clip the inside clip with the chain, so it’s fastened on the inside of the dual now.
4. On the front face on the tire, I tighten the cams up snugly with an adjusting wrench. The wrench is inserted into the cam and turned to increase the tension in the chain.
Try to tighten each cam, to help snug up the chain. You probably won’t be able to get a turn from each cam…. probably just one or a few of them.
For extra security and tension for the chains, you can use regular bungee straps. However, I bought a specialized set of tire straps, out in Wyoming at a truck stop. They are very handy for securing tire chains. The rubber straps can be hooked onto the chain, evenly spaced to secure and tighten up the entire configuration.
Test your chaining installation When I have all the tire chains installed that I require and well secured, I’ll drive perhaps an 1/8th of a mile, stop the truck, get out and double check everything to make sure they are secure.
By driving slowly for a short distance, you can test the security of the chaining. The last thing you want is for the chains to come off while you’re driving. The chains can cause serious damage to the truck if they come loose.
When to remove the chains Tire chains are designed to run on snow. Once you hit wet or dry pavement, it’s time to stop and remove them. Hopefully, once you’ve chained up and you’ve reached the the top of the hill, the road will be dry and you can take the chains off.
Speed A truck with chains, isn’t meant to travel fast. They are meant to get the truck through rough spots. The chains can break away, fly loose and damage the equipment. I don’t like to exceed 30 or 40 mph with a set of chains on.
Chain Requirements It is necessary to check the states and provinces where you’ll be traveling, to find out what chains they require. Some states only require that a truck carry them, some indicate that it’s necessary to chain up under certain conditions…when chain requirements are in effect. So be aware of what the chain requirements are, or else you’ll be forced to wait out the road closures.
Number of Chains The maximum number of chains which states require are six chains. However, six tire chains for a tractor trailer can add up to a lot of weight. So when you put your chains away in your truck storage box, be aware that you’ve potentially gained almost 1000 pounds in weight as a result. Remember, that will add to your gross vehicle weight, so be aware of that before you pick up your next load.
Types of Chains The chains I used in the demonstration are single chains. A single chain will cover one tire. Double chains will wrap around both tires. Triple chains will wrap around both tires but align in the middle to hook up between the duals, which helps to secure them.
Chain Weight Chains are very heavy. They are awkward to install, store and handle. The welded cleats on the cross-links gives them great traction, but also adds to the weight. When you’re carrying a full set of triple chains, you’re carrying a lot of weight. It makes the truck difficult to maneuver, and they’re especially tough to install.