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Thread: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

  1. #1

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    Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    I'm looking on Amazon.com. I've got a AWD subaru wagon. There are cable and chain versions. Some with stretchy bungees. The easier to install, the better as i'd need to do all for tires i assume.
    Can anybody recommend a brand/type?


    vinny

  2. #2

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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    Typically, cable are easier to put on than chain and are quieter. If a cross strand breaks, they don't cause as much damage to the sheet metal wheel wells. But, chains grip better in snow. When you hit dry pavement for any distance, take them off. The cables run on dry pavement only a few miles before breaking. Chains can break too, but will go a bit longer.

    The most important thing about chains is get them with a reasonable amount of slack and then take up the slack with the rubber bungee loops. Tight chains or cables will eat the sidewalls through on your tires and will break faster. They both need room to fly out from the tires a little bit. Also, wide profile tires are worse in snow than narrow tread. My personal choice would be fairly narrow tires with cable chains, rather sloppy fit on the tires and tightened with the rubber bungees.

    When installing, there is a tendency to hook them rather loosely on the inside and take up the slack on the outside. That leaves the chains loose on the inside and likely to fly off to the outside. Try to get the hooks evenly distributed to the same length inside as outside. There are various latching mechanisms and you have to look through the choices to see which ones you want to hook up laying on your back in a blinding snowstorm with no help. Be sure to block the car from rolling. Lay the chains out and drive onto them toward one end, then lift them over the tire so that you are working either low on the front, or low on the back to hook them up.

    The biggest mistake I ever made on a set of chains was to take the wheels off the car and put the chains on the tires as tight as I could get them. I ruing two perfectly good tires in just a few miles. Loose with the rubber snubbers is good. Live and learn. Story of my life.

  3. #3

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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    Vinny,

    You don't put them on all four wheels - just the front ones for steering AFAIR. I've seen it in the owner's handbook somewhere but skimmed over it because thankfully, we don't get much snow (from a driver's point of view.)

    Even though I've got AWD (I've got a blobeye STi) I've got to crawl round in the slippery stuff as the tyres are so wide / low profile for normal performance driving and a spare set of wheels with snow tyres are expensive / rare in the UK...

    Andrew

  4. #4
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    I've got chains on my AWD Explorer right now and they will stay there the rest of the winter. They go on the rear wheels only. Here, where I have to get up a tough hill and bite into a lot of ice at times chains are the only answer some days. Chains with the metal bungy cords that adjust the fit are the best. I could have put them on a different truck but figured the Explorer was the oldest and the one that would suffer the lest from any damage so it got elected. If things get real dicy I park the Yukon at the bottom of the hill and use the Explorer to get up an down .... life in the frozen wastes.

    You can drive with them on dry pavement but you need to do so carefully and slowly. Keep it under 30mph and check the fit frequently and you will be ok.

  5. #5

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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    Vinny don't just buy cables or chains from Amazon. You need to do a little research regarding the exact model car you have, the current size tires you have and the amount of clearance between tire and car body components. The really good companies will have a list of what model chains/cables safely fit what car/tire combinations. Putting a too big a chain on the tire could result in problems far more serious than just tire damage.

    Cables tend to be thinner than chains and enable a better fit on a tire with less room. The type that use bungee type tensioners will usually give you the proper tension.

  6. #6

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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    I've driven Audi A6s with AWD in Massachusetts snow for many years without ever needing chains or studded tires, though admittedly not that frequently on steep, icy hills. Some folks don't realize the difference between 4WD and AWD, assuming them to be the same.

  7. #7

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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    It depends on how stuck you plan to get.

    I use the heaviest lug-reinforced chains I can find on my pickup, admittedly overkill for a Sube. But there is a big difference in the amount of traction; cables work well on packed snow but not as well on ice or in mud. Deeper snow will respond better to chains, but you'll pay a penalty in ride comfort. Also, IINM, many cables allow higher speeds than true chains, where you're pretty much limited to around 25 - 30 mph.

    BTW, if you need maximum control in a slick situation, and only have one set of chains, put them on the front axle so you can use the steering to pull yourself out of trouble. This is especially effective in mud.

    Best of all, of course, is chains on all four tires. For a lightweight car, try cables on the front for driveability, and chains on the rear for max traction.

  8. #8

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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Hilker View Post
    I've driven Audi A6s with AWD in Massachusetts snow for many years without ever needing chains or studded tires, though admittedly not that frequently on steep, icy hills. Some folks don't realize the difference between 4WD and AWD, assuming them to be the same.
    What do you mean exactly. Both systems provide essentially the same capability and there are lots of variations in AWD and 4wd systems. I'm a jeeper and have a very good understanding of the various drive systems. AWD and 4WD are essentially the same except that AWD uses a differential to transfer power between front and rear driveshafts and is always engaged while 4WD is essentially a locked system and can generally be deselected in the transfer case. Now you can get into all sorts of limited slip and locker systems, but the basics apply to both systems in that all 4 wheels are powered by the drive train.

    And as to the OP's question about the Suby, my wife has owned an Outback wagon for 6 or 7 years here in Colorado. Her previous cars had snow tires for the winter so she got them for the Suby the first year. That was the only time she ever used them, only using an all season tire. She drove that Suby 40 miles in 18" of fresh snow during the 2003 Denver blizzard and did not get stuck. Pretty impressive to me and I would usually choose her suby over my jeep with 33" tires any time it snows.

    Is it especially icy where you are? If not, you may not want to spend money on cables/chains if you'll never use them.

    On the suby, since all four wheels a driven by limited slip, you'll probably want chains on all four corners. Most limited slip systems require you have some traction somewhere in the system in order to drive the other wheels. You can "create" traction by carefully applying brake pressure, but if you can just run chains on all four corners this won't be a problem.

    Otherwise the advice about chains versus cables is consistent with what I know.

  9. #9
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    I don't mean to hijack this, but had I put different tires on my 2wd 1 ton van, would I have still gotten stuck in the gravel? I couldn't believe how fast and easy that was. I had regular street treads. Would snow tires help? Would I buzz on the pavement with snow tires?
    my picture blog
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  10. #10

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    Re: Best Snow Chains for AWD car?

    I use these on my truck. Install easy, handle higher speeds, and work in mud as well.http://www.flextrax.com/
    The only trouble with doin' nothing is you can't tell when you get caught up

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