How to Install Tire Chains

You are here


If you live in an area where the winters are snow filled, then you will probably need tire chains at some point. The question arise: should you have someone install them for you, or should you do it yourself? While installing them yourself may seem like a daunting task, it actually isn’t that hard and can save you money.
  • First, you have to determine if your car is front wheel drive or rear wheel drive. If you decide to only put tire chains on two tires, they need to go on the driving tires. 
  • Next, check your owner's manual for any reference to "class S" or limited clearance for tire chains.  If your tires need a limited clearance product, then traditional chains aren’t recommended for your car, and you should consult the owner's manual for further instructions. 
  • Then, you want to lay the chains flat on the ground so they are parallel. You need to make sure that there aren’t any twist in the links.
  • Drape the chains over each tire making sure that the ‘speed hook” or “J hook” fastener is on the inside. The other side of the chains will have a lever fastener with a “keeper” link. You will also need to make sure that the smooth side of the cross member end hooks is against the tires. If you are not sure what these parts are, you should be able to recognize them when you see the tire chains.
  • Once you have the chains draped over the tires, reach behind each tire and fasten the speed hooks by inserting the J hooks through the third link from the other end of the chain. Pull the slack toward the outside edge of the tire. 
  • After the chains are hooked together, pull your car forward several feet. Then pull the rest of the tire chain slack toward you. Insert the lever fasteners through the third links from the opposite ends of the outside chains and pivot the levers back on themselves, then fasten them under the keeper links.
  • Drive forward several feet, then pull all the slack out of the chains and refasten them as tightly as possible. There should be about the same number of loose links on each side of the chains.
  • Secure these extra links with zip ties, or remove them with bolt cutters and add rubber tighteners to lengthen the life of the chains.