Fitting Cable Chains for Tires

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Mark your tire chains to indicate how they should fit your tires. Learn more about preparing snow tire chains in this free winter weather driving video from a master mechanic.

Part of the Video Series: How to Install Tire Chains
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Video Transcript

In this segment, I'm going to show how to pre-fit a cable chain to an automotive tire. Basically, when you're pre-fitting a chain, what you're doing is you're putting the chain on and finding out which adjustments, which clips you, need to use. You're looking for the tightest possible fit and then somehow marking or setting that chain up so when you go to put it on out in the road, you're in the snow and a bad situation. You'll know exactly which hooks and connectors to use. Exactly how it should go on so it'll fit tightly and correctly. Let me lay out a chain here. First we need to identify the chains, the inside of the tire and the outside. You could do that by checking the instruction manual. They should have different hooks on one side than the other. This I already know it goes on the inside of the tire. These chains were made to drape over the top of the tire. I'm going to do the same format, because on the back you'll see, it says tire side. So this side of the cable chain has to be towards the tire. We just want to lay the chain over. Basically what I'm going to do is just holding it kind of tight and rotate it around a little bit, so that I've got the free play in my hands. Hook the inside link first and then on this particular set of chains, there's only two adjustments, this outer clip and the inner clip. You just want to slide that through and pull the chain as tight as possible which is the second clip. That's what the total amount of adjustment they have on these. This style cable chain is going to rely on the center tensioning device. A rubber band or bungee cord to hold this chain snug to the tire. There are a lot of different manufacturers and types and styles and most chains will give your more adjustments. Usually three or four different adjustments on the outside and at least three or four on the inside. This set was pretty much designed for a specific size of tire and rather than giving you adjustability, it's made to fit that specific tire. Then the tensioner themselves will hold it together. Now that we've got the chain basically fit onto the tire. The next step is to put the tensioning device on. Please watch our next segment, we'll cover installing the tensioner.

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