Stay Prepared for Winter Driving – Carry Tire Chains

February 13, 2016

Driving in snow and ice can get the best of all of us so whether it is getting your vehicle out of deep snow, decreasing stopping distance or dramatically improving overall handling tire chains can be a lifesaver.  Even with four-wheel drive tire chains enhance handling and traction for acceleration and braking.  There are plenty of good reasons to have a set of chains in your trunk or in the cab of your truck.

Selecting exactly what style of traction device can be a little tricky, but don’t worry, of the many options Laclede Chain Manufacturing has available there’s one that is sure to meet your needs.  For passenger cars, sport utility vehicles and light trucks Laclede Chain’s lineup falls into three main categories:  cable chains, ladder style link chains and diamond pattern hoop chains.

Cable chains are a good entry level option and work well with tight wheel well clearance applications.  Laclede’s cable chains are designed to allow the rollers on the cross members to rotate while in use.   This allows the cross members to wear more evenly as contact is spread out across more surface area.  Cable chains are easy to install, provide a smoother ride but do not provide as much traction as some of our other styles of traction devices.

Ladder style link chains have some advantages over cable chains due to a more aggressive profile and heavier material all around.  These factors result in a higher degree of enhancement to traction, braking, acceleration, general handling and durability.  Link chains are noisier with a bumpier ride than cable chains.  Because of the heavier duty construction and larger wire diameters ladder style link chains do not meet SAE Class S wheel well requirements for Light Truck and SUV applications.

For passenger car applications our ladder type chains come in one style Passenger Link aka “PL” and this product series does meet SAE Class S Wheel Well Requirements.

For light truck applications most of our ladder configuration chains come in both a “CAM” style and “R” (Regular side chain) style.  Both CAM and R chains have the same components except for on the outside rail of side chain.

The outside rail of a CAM style chain contains multiple (three or four) locking cam plates that serve to help tighten the chain once installed on the tire.   Each pair of CAM chains comes with a cam tightening tool (“T-handle”) that allows the cams to be turned and locked in to place to take up slack in the chain.  A snug fitting chain will last longer and with cams there is no need to use a separate rubber adjuster for tightening.

“R” (Regular) style link chains have a flat plate lever fastener on one end of the outside rim chain.  During installation you just slip a link onto the plate, rotate the plate 180° and then move the keeper plate to hold the lever in place.  We recommend using rubber adjusters with these chains to help keep the chains tight on the tire.

Laclede Alpine Series is our premium product line for passenger, light truck and SUV applications.  These chains are easy to install, provide excellent traction, and a smoother, quieter ride due to the diamond configuration of the cross chains.  With more cross links distributed across the tire tread face Alpines provide an even greater degree of traction assistance.  Also, the square shape of the cross links provides good bite into snow and ice while distributing wear out more evenly across the link compared to twist link chains.

Alpines can be installed without moving your vehicle so they are a great tool for getting unstuck.  The Alpine series incorporates a draw chain tightening mechanism which allows for an extremely tight fit and a smoother and quieter ride compare to other products.  Our Alpine Premier (1500) and Alpine Sport (2300) series are SAE Clearance Class-S while the Alpine Super Sport (2500) are SAE Clearance Class-U.


Passenger Cable:

Light Truck Cable:

PL chain:

R style truck chain:

CAM style truck chain:


Here are a few more things to note before you get on the road with your chains:

CHECK YOUR OWNERS MANUAL – There should be a section in your vehicle owner’s manual with details on wheel well clearance and tire chain usage.  It is important to follow these guidelines.

ALWAYS TEST FIT YOUR CHAINS – The tire sizes listed on packaging, literature and our website are recommendations, not absolute guarantees.  Even within the same size designation, two different brands or styles of tires can vary in size by up to 15%. Not only will test fitting your chains ensure a proper fit on the tire, it will familiarize you with the installation process.

TIGHTEN YOUR CHAINS FREQUENTLY – It is extremely important to stop and re-tighten your tire chains after driving a short distance.  During re-tightening you may find you can take up an extra link or two on the rim chain, or on cam style chains get that last cam to lock down.  You should also check your chains periodically during use for tightness and wear.

DO NOT DRIVE ON BARE PAVEMENT – There are certain circumstances when driving on bare pavement is unavoidable.  Driving on bare pavement for more than a short distance dramatically reduces the life of the chain and can result in product failure.

DO NOT SPIN YOUR TIRES – Even with tire chains on, some spinning of tires may be unavoidable.  Excessive tire spinning places a lot of extra tension on chains and can cause product failure.  Do not drive with a broken chain.


If you have any further questions please contact us at 1-800-547-4702, via e-mail, or by using our new live chat feature on our website,  We’re available Monday-Friday, from 7:30AM to 4:00PM PST.