Winters in Poland are different. One year they surprise us with sulfurous frosts, the next year they treat us to plus temperatures and rain instead of snow. In the mountains, however, the conditions are always different than in other areas of the country. There the winter is sharper, colder and snowier. In many places, car chains are necessary or needed. These are car accessories that should be on the equipment of every driver who plans a winter trip to the mountains. You can also rent them from Kaizen Rent. They make driving on a snowy road easier, and most importantly, safer.
Wheel chains - a useful car accessory
Wheel chains come as a mesh wrap or in the form of zoned bands. Sometimes it is also a full cover, it depends on the type of these car accessories. They are put on the wheels during winter, specifically when driving on snowy and ice-covered roads. Their purpose is to increase the grip of the tires to the ground. It is very often on them depends the success of driving on a hill during minus temperatures and with a thicker or slightly thinner layer of snow.
Basic car chains consist of wire, which in turn is made of metal, such as chrome or nickel. The construction is not infrequently reinforced with titanium, which is of great importance especially for heavier cars.
Wheel chains are car accessories that are always matched to the size and type of wheels. When you use Kaizen Rent, you get chains matched to the car you rent. When you purchase them, the choice is up to you.
Types of automotive chains
You should know that the effectiveness of car chains significantly depends on their type. It must be admitted that the creativity of manufacturers is getting bigger and bigger. Uniqueness does not always translate into better effectiveness, although it can be an interesting and useful alternative in some cases. So what winter car accessories are currently available on the market?
- First of all, we distinguish traditional chains made of steel alloy. They are the most popular, distinguished by their versatility, they can be adjusted to any wheel size. They consist of a metal network of square or circular links. Usually we deal with links made of combination of chromium, nickel and manganese. If you want even more resistance to damage and solidity of the chains, choose those with the addition of titanium. Modern metal car chains are equipped with special systems facilitating their installation. This is important, because at very low temperatures it can be a problem. The mesh on the tire usually forms a rhombus pattern. This makes these winter car accessories provide the tires with even more grip on ice.
- The second type of car chains are textile chains. Rather, they have little in common with a chain per se, more like a tire cover. It is a thin cover made of material, which is reinforced with steel in critical areas. Their advantage is their weight and size, as they are lighter and thinner than traditional wheel chains. This makes them recommended for cars where there is little space between the wheel and the wheel arch. Unfortunately, most of such chains do not cope well with mounds of snow, so they will not do their job properly in difficult conditions.
- The third type of chains is SpikesSpider. They are distinguished already by the installation itself, because we put them only on the outer part of the wheel. For the winter time, we permanently mount a special adapter to the rim. This significantly reduces the mounting time of the chains. SpikesSpider chains come in different forms. They can be plastic caps with metal spikes or classic chains, which stretch between caps made of plastic. Their disadvantage is certainly the price, as they are more expensive car accessories. At the same time, they cope just as well in difficult conditions as classic wheel chains.
How to choose the right car accessories - car chains
Car chains don't just vary in type. Within one type, there are also several chains, which in turn come in several sizes. The parameters that can be different in each model are: link size and thickness, mesh density, as well as the material from which the chains are made. We always match the chains to the wheel size, to the specific car model and its series. So we always check what is the use and purpose of the chains we choose.
We are guided by the kn size group. The most popular wheel sizes are divided into sets, marked from kn30 to kn260 respectively. So before you decide to buy specific car accessories for winter, check what size tyre is fitted on your car and then match it to the specific group from the size chart.
The owner's manual for some cars states that chains cannot be mounted on their wheels. This is due to the clearance of the car. This is the distance between the tire and the wheel arch. The standard values of this parameter are 9 mm and 12 mm. In their case it is possible to mount chains. However, you need to pay attention to the thickness of the links. However, for cars with low ground clearance, textile chains will work well, because they are thinner and do not need too much space between the tire and the wheel arch.
Traditional metal chains will always be a good choice, if, of course, the clearance of the car allows you to use them. They are characterized by high efficiency, provide very good grip, are also resistant to mechanical damage, heavy loads and adverse weather conditions. Textile chains may turn out to be the only possible choice in case of low car clearance. However, they are less effective and are not recommended for driving in rough conditions. As far as SpikesSpider chains are concerned, it is an option for the most demanding customers, who want to gain safety, characteristic for classic chains, and ease of installation at the same time.
Principles of car chain use
Once the winter car accessories have been chosen, you still need to read the instructions for their use. Always before the first use we check how to put them on, store them, but also how to drive on the road in them.
When putting on the chains, we suggest the drive train of the car. In case of front drive, we put the snow chains on the two front wheels. In rear-wheel drive, snow chains are fitted to the two rear wheels. If your car is all-wheel drive, put snow chains on each of the four wheels. Never fit snow chains on a single tire. It has a negative influence on driving and creates danger for the driver, passengers and other road users. In addition, chains should only be used on snowy roads. Everywhere else you should remove them.
What do the regulations in Poland say?
Many drivers wonder whether driving in car chains in certain areas and under specific conditions is required or only possible. It is worth taking a look at the road traffic regulations. As Article 60 (3) of the Road Traffic Law states: "The use of anti-slip chains on tires is only allowed on a road covered with snow".
In addition, there are road signs referring to driving with snow chains. The picture with chains on (C-18 sign) means it is absolutely mandatory to drive in chains. We will encounter this in mountainous and foothill areas.
We have two other road signs that refer to snow chains:
- The "roadway frosting" sign (A-32)
- An "end of snow chain order" sign (C-19)
How do I put on my car chains?
Putting car chains on wheels can be difficult and cumbersome. It is influenced by our experience, but also by following the instructions for use, as well as the conditions in which we pull them. Snow, frost and limited visibility certainly don't help. So the first time we put on these car accessories should be before we even hit the road. So we do a test run.
- Pull out the wheel chains and shake them to see if they are tangled.
- We arrange them so that the center of the cable is on the inside of the wheel.
- There are hooks at the ends of the cable. We have to connect them together on the front upper part of the wheel.
- So connected construction we move to the inner part of the tire.
- The outer chains are also connected to each other. Through the pulleys we pass the tension chain and tighten it.
- Now we have to make sure that the chain is properly tensioned. To do this, connect the end of the load chain to the link.
- Check that the chain is properly tensioned. Then drive it about 100 meters. It is best to do this several times.
Extending the life of automotive chains
Snow chains, just like other car accessories and parts, need to be taken care of so that they last longer and perform their function throughout their life. Car chains are made of metal, so they are exposed to corrosion when in long contact with water. Moreover, they work very hard under heavy load, so they are exposed to mechanical damage. For sure, you have to put on and take off the chains according to the instructions. After each use, we dry them and store in a dry place. Clean them from street salt, sand and other dirt. It is best to store them in their original packaging, or in a plastic box. It is worthwhile to additionally protect car chains with anti-corrosion preparation.
When winter is approaching and you plan to go to the mountains, it is a good time to buy snow chains. We can never predict the weather in the mountains. But we can always be well prepared to provide ourselves and other road users with maximum comfort and safety when driving in difficult winter conditions.