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Chains are required when there is at least 2 inches of snow on the road. Chains provide extra traction, which is crucial in snowy and icy conditions.

Failure to use chains when required can result in accidents and fines. Winter weather can pose a significant challenge for drivers. Snowstorms and icy roads require special precautions to ensure safe driving. One of these precautions is using snow chains.

Snow chains provide additional traction by creating more grip between the tires and the road. They are particularly effective in hilly or mountainous areas. However, it’s essential to know when chains are required and how to use them correctly. In this article, we’ll cover how many inches of snow require chains and everything else you need to know to stay safe while driving in snowy weather. So, let’s dive in!

How Many Inches of Snow Requires Chains


Factors To Consider When Using Snow Chains

Winter is here, and you may be wondering how many inches of snow require the use of snow chains. Snow chains provide extra tire traction in snowy and icy conditions, making them a valuable tool for drivers who must navigate harsh winter driving conditions.

Here are some factors to consider when using snow chains:

Severity Of Snowfall

The amount of snow on the ground is a crucial factor when deciding whether to use snow chains. Below are some key points to help you decide:

  • Snowfall severity: In areas with heavy snowfall, it is best to use snow chains when there is any significant amount of snow on the roads.
  • Ice or slushy conditions: Even if there isn’t much snow on the roads, if they are covered in ice or slush, snow chains can still be needed to maintain tire traction and reliable braking ability.

Type Of Vehicle

Another important factor to consider when deciding whether to use snow chains is the type of vehicle you are driving. Here are some key points:

  • Vehicle type: Some vehicles, such as four-wheel drives, may not require the use of snow chains in light snow conditions. In contrast, front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive vehicles typically do.
  • Tires: Snow tires provide better traction than regular tires but do not guarantee safety in harsh winter conditions.

Requirements By State Or Local Regulations

Several states and localities have snow chain laws that require their use under specific circumstances. Some of these requirements include:

  • Specific roads: Some areas require the use of chains on specific roads during certain times of the year.
  • Snowfall amounts: Certain states require the use of chains when snowfall amounts exceed a particular threshold.
  • Vehicle types: Some areas require all vehicles to use chains, while others only require them for specific vehicle types.

The use of snow chains can be essential in navigating winter road conditions safely. By taking into account the amount of snow on the roads, the type of vehicle being driven, and local regulations, drivers can make an informed decision on when to use snow chains.

Tips For Using Snow Chains

Driving in snowy conditions requires additional safety measures to ensure your safety and that of others on the road. If you live in an area with frequent snowfall or are planning a winter road trip, it’s important to know how to use snow chains effectively.

Here are some tips to follow:

Fit The Chains When The Vehicle Is Stationary To Prevent Any Accidents.

Before starting, find an area where you can safely park your vehicle off the road to fit the chains. This will prevent any accidents from happening. Follow these steps when fitting the chains:

  • Make sure the car is in park and the handbrake is engaged.
  • Fit the chains over the drive wheels of the car. In most cases, this will be the front wheels for front-wheel-drive vehicles and the rear wheels for rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
  • Tighten the chains as much as possible.

Tighten The Chains As Tightly As Possible.

Well-fitted chains are important to maintain proper traction when driving in snowy conditions. Make sure to follow these steps when tightening your chains:

  • Once the chains are on, drive a few feet forward, then stop and re-tighten the chains. Check that they are snug and properly aligned.
  • The chains should be tight and not have any slack. Ensure they are not so tight that they break or damage the vehicle.
  • It’s important to note that snow chains should not be used on clear roads as they can damage your tires and vehicle.

Avoid Driving At High Speeds.

Snow chains are meant to provide additional traction when driving in snow or ice. However, they do not guarantee complete safety. Follow the speed limit and reduce your speed as necessary when driving with chains on. Keep in mind that you might have reduced braking and steering control, so it’s essential to drive safely and avoid sudden movements.

Remove The Chains As Soon As You Reach Clear Roads.

Once you have reached clear roads, it’s time to remove the chains. Driving with chains on clear roads can be dangerous and cause unnecessary wear and tear to your tires. Follow these steps when removing the chains:

  • Stop in a safe area away from traffic.
  • Remove the chains in reverse order from the way you put them on. Unhook the inside hooks first, then the outside hooks.
  • Store the chains in a bag or container to prevent them from tangling and getting damaged.

Frequently Asked Questions On How Many Inches Of Snow Requires Chains

How Much Snow Requires Tire Chains?

Snow chains are recommended when there are two or more inches of packed snow on the road. However, laws vary in different states and regions.

Are Chains Mandatory In The Snow?

Chain requirements are dependent on the state and the road conditions. Some areas require drivers to use chains on certain types of roads.

What Kind Of Tires Need Chains?

Vehicles with all-season tires, standard radial tires, or low-profile tires often require chains to navigate snow-covered roads.

How Do I Know What Chains To Use?

Refer to your vehicle’s manual for recommended tire chains. Look for chain compatibility with tire size and the number of chain links.

Can I Drive With Chains On Bare Pavement?

Driving with chains on bare pavement can cause tread damage to the tires and the road surface. Therefore, it is not recommended.

Do I Need To Use All Four Chains?

Most cars require chains on two wheels only, but some trucks and suvs may require chains on all four wheels for safe driving in snow and ice.


It’s important to always check local laws and regulations regarding tire chains before hitting the road during snowy conditions. In general, it’s recommended to install tire chains when driving in areas with 6 inches or more of snow. However, it’s important to also consider the type of vehicle, terrain, and driving conditions before making a decision.

In addition, it’s crucial to properly install and maintain tire chains to ensure maximum safety and performance. So, whether you’re a seasoned driver or new to the snowy roads, always prioritize safety and caution when driving in winter conditions. And remember, when in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Stay informed, stay prepared, and stay safe on the roads this winter season.



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