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During winter, driving conditions can be dangerous and unpredictable, with road surfaces ranging from dry, to wet, to snow-covered, to icy, sometimes in a single day. In situations where snow and ice have power over the road, snow chains are a common accessory. Here’s a guide to when and how to use them.
In certain places, particularly on mountainous roads and roads leading to ski resorts, there may be legislation requiring you to use snow chains or winter tyres. In some areas in Europe, this requirement is signalled by the official B26 road sign.
In most cases, however, this road sign is accompanied by another sign which states that snow tyres are acceptable.
photo credits: Stéphane DUCLET
It is important to use snow chains when necessary or when indicated to do so by a snow chain sign, regardless of the tyres on your vehicle.
It is important to note that the use of chains comes with some restrictions:
Additionally, for safety reasons and to avoid damaging the snow chains, it is necessary to remove them before driving on normal road surfaces.
To minimise the need to use snow chains, we recommend using tyres adapted to the conditions, such as winter or all season tyres.
Unlike summer tyres, winter and all season tyres are designed for driving in winter conditions. Their rubber remains flexible even in low temperatures and their deep grooves add grip on cold and wet ground, as well as in snow. Even with these tyres, however, snow chains can be useful when driving in extreme conditions as they increase grip on ice or snow.
Be sure to choose your fittings carefully. Winter tyres and all season tyres are better suited to composite or metal chains as snow socks deprive winter and all season tyres of their natural grip on the snow.
The main difference is in the design: snow chains are added on top of the tyre tread, while snow socks completely cover the wheels. With snow chains, the grip is a result of the tyre and the chain working together. With snow socks, it is the fabric material of the sock that provides grip.
On hard pack snow, the 2 systems work about the same, whereas on fresh snow and black ice, chains are more effective. They are also more resistant and will deteriorate more slowly on roads that have been cleared of snow. Socks, however, are much easier and faster to put into place.
Until the early 2000s, you could only find metallic chains on the market. For the past fifteen years or so, however, notably at the instigation of Michelin, new concepts of chains—such as socks (S.O.S Grip) and composite chains (Michelin Easy Grip)—have been developed for easier usage, particularly in terms of installation and continually improving performance.
To learn more about our line of snow chains, visit our dedicated website.
Each European country has its own legislation regarding the use of snow chains.
These regulations specify the types of products that can be used (for example, in Germany and Austria, only metal chains can be used) and how and when they can be used.
See our table below for the regulations in different European countries.
*subject to change. Please check the country’s current regulations.
Most vehicles can use classic or standard chains, but some vehicles require special chains. This is generally due to their having a smaller wheel well, which means that using standard chains can cause damage to the vehicle. If that is the case for you, you will have to use snow socks, composite chains or side chains.
Before choosing a product, you will need to know the model of your vehicle and the size of your tyres.
All vehicles, regardless of being front, rear or 4 wheel drive, must have snow chains fitted to all four tyres to maintain vehicle stability.
SUV & 4x4
Safety made to last in all weathers
Electric or hybrid car
Road control made to last in severe winter conditions for your SUV
Helps control, whatever the winter conditions.
What are winter tyres? What are their strengths and why are they important? Learn why snow tyres are an essential investment for the winter season.
Which winter tyres are the safest? Some helpful tips from Michelin: to choose the best winter tyres for you, you must take into consideration where you live, the kind of driving you do, the make and model of your car and the tyre dimensions.
Summer tyres, winter tyres and all season tyres: how do you choose the right tyres for your vehicle? Read on for advice from Michelin about the different kinds of tyres.