Snow Cables Vs Chains – Which One Is The Winner In The Snow?

by Conner Mckay

Winter is coming and you are probably thinking of getting winter equipment for your car. So, you cannot decide between snow cables vs chains? If this is the case, you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out with your trouble and tell you everything you need to know.

Planning for the winter is key if you want not to end up stuck in the snow. Although you may say, I have winter tires, the snow couldn’t do anything to me. This isn’t always the case because you never know what sorts of blizzards you might come across. Especially if you are doing long journeys across the country and also if you live in a place where snowstorms often happen and paralyze everything.

So, don’t be that gut and plan everything ahead. That’s why you need to learn more about this winter equipment and learn which is the best option for you and also for your car. Having the proper winter equipment will save you a ton of money on possible repairs if you end up in an accident and also in lost nerves while stuck. With winter equipment you will keep going where everyone stops. And we are going to teach you how.

In this article, we are going to learn what are snow cables and also what are snow chains. Then we will see what you need to consider before buying since there are a ton of things that need to be taken into consideration. Then we are also going to give you our recommendation on winter equipment. So, follow along.

What Are Snow Chains? – Snow Cables Vs Chains

Snow chains are one of the earliest tools for internal combustion vehicles that man has made in order to tackle snow and blizzards. They were invented in 1904 by Harry D, Weed from New York. He got the idea and quickly made the design and the design was patented as Grip Tread for Pneumatic Tires in 1904.

He said that he was inspired by some drivers who wrapped ropes around the tires with the idea of improving the vehicle traction on the snow. People in New York specifically have struggled always through the winter since it knows to rain quite a lot of snow there and considering that they were the center of the world at that time. We cannot be surprised that the chains were invented there.

The snow chains are saving thousands of lives each year and prevent people from ending up stuck in the snowy conditions and freezing to death.

That’s why you should always have a snow chain kit in your truck when the winter season comes by. You never know when it will start to rain and make your life miserable. So, getting a good set of chains for your car is a key if you want to avoid getting stuck somewhere on the roads.

Anyway, the chains are quite a useful tool when it comes to tackling the snow and that’s why they haven’t evolved much. As someone would say, they were perfect from the beginning.

Even though, there were some new inventions out there. Also known as snow cables that are also an important aspect of this article and we are going to cover them in detail. Then we will decide who is the winner when it comes to snow cables vs chains. So, follow along.

What Are Snow Cables?

Snow cables are a special variety of winter equipment that is getting quite more popular among drivers because it offers quite a performance in comparison to regular chains.

The cables are a more modern design that goal is to deliver proper traction during the icy and snowy conditions on the road.

These cables are made out of steel and are specifically encased inside of a special alloy in order to deliver proper traction on the snow.

They come in two patterns. A ladder pattern and a Z pattern. But which of these patterns is the best when it comes to tackling the snow. It is claimed by many people who use these cables more often during the winter that the ladder pattern is quite better in comparison to the Z pattern. So, consider getting one of these for your car or truck.

Snow cables are the more modern alternative to regular chains. They are both better for the tire and also for the surface. Since chains are purely made out of metal and their shape is not very friendly for both tires and asphalt.

Snow Cables VS Chains

The asphalt may get damaged and also the tires could suffer some permanent deformation if the car is run on the chains for too long. This will result in scrapping your winter tires and the need to replace them with a new set of tires. And you don’t want that. That’s why when thinking between snow cables vs chains, you should opt for the cables in my opinion.

Chains offer more grip, but cables are also quite good and will not deliver a lot less in comparison to chains. So, there is not a big loss in performance from choosing the cables instead of the chains.

Chain And Cable Sizes

In the US there are three classes of snow chains. And these classes are standardized based on the wheel clearance of the vehicle. This means that there should be a proper clearance between the wheel and the wheel well in order to mount these chains.

They are SAE designated which means that they are approved by the Society of Automotive Engineers. So which are these sizes?

There is SAE Class S. This good clearance is for most modern cars that are running low profile tires or wider tires. This means that there is less space for bigger chains and you need to mount the SAE Class S. Which has a minimum tread face clearance of 1.46 inches and minimum sidewall clearance of 0.59 inches.

The next is the SAE Class U, which is intended for vehicles that are running nonrestricted wheel well clearances. The minimum tread face clearance for these is 1.97 inches and the minimum sidewall clearance is 0.91 inches.

Then the last class is the SAE Class W which is intended for light trucks that do not have any limitation when it comes to the wheel well. These are minimum thread face clearance of 2.5 inches and minimum sidewall clearance of 1.5 inches.

So, the bigger clearance you have on your car wheel well, the bigger chains you can mount to your vehicle. You don’t have to stress with these designations too much just make sure that you are running SAE S if you run a regular car and also the right chain size for your tire size.

These are the numbers and letters on the side of your tire. For example, 205/55/16. You need to make sure that the chain will match these demands.

Snow Cables Vs Chains Installation

Although tire snow cables vs chains are pretty much similar and might even confuse you. They are not installed in the same way.

Chains are actually quite simpler to install in emergency situations. Or in other words when you get stuck in the snow.

How you do this is by removing the chains from your trunk and placing the chains on top of the wheel and then attaching them to the places they need attaching. Then you are good to go.

Snow cables on the other hand are quite more difficult to mount in situations where you are stuck in the snow.

This is because you need to place the cables and then drive over them in order to hug the tire with the cables. This can be quite difficult to perform and it’s almost impossible when you are stuck. Here is a video on how this is done properly.

It is often advised to practice a few times how to install both the snow cables vs chains. Practice will make you quite experienced in emergency situations and you will not panic and get stuck even more.

It is often advised to stop your car when you are close to a blizzard or you started to enter one. Then mount the snow cables vs chains and then drive. Because if you get stuck it is quite difficult to mount this equipment.

But even if stuck, you need to think sharp and how to perform this job properly. That’s why practice. Because as they say, practice makes everything perfect and so does chain or snow cable installing.

Downsides Of Running Chains Or Cables On The Car

There are a ton of downsides to driving chains or cables on your car. They are basically ruining the performance of the vehicle when it comes to handling. That’s why they need only to be used with precautions. And we are going to discuss now which are the downsides of driving your car with chains or snow cables.

Driving too fast can make you lose control and damage the tires. This is a fact, the recommended speed of driving with chains is 20 to 30 mph maximum. Driving faster will cause your tires to degrade and deform. Also, you can lose control if driving at high speeds.

Don’t drive with chains on dry roads. If you drive a lot of time with chains on dry roads. You will damage your tires and also the chains are going to degrade and wear off. The braking distance will also be reduced considerably and the car will start to slide if you brake hard which can take you into an accident.

Don’t accelerate too quickly. If you accelerate quickly, you will damage the chains and also the tires. The car can also lose traction if you are accelerating on a dry road.

Overall, these are the precautions that every driver should follow when driving the car in the winter. So, to sum things up, install chains only when you feel that this is necessary and there is no other way of tackling this weather.

As soon you tackle the road and return on dry roads, remove the chains completely and place them in your trunk. Then, place them again on the tires if there is a need to do so. Snow cables vs chains? Which are better? In the next chapter, we are going to find out.

Snow Cables Vs Chains

We have covered a lot when it comes to both of these types of winter equipment. Now let’s see which is the way to go. Should you get chains or cables? Let’s find out.

This depends much on how you want to drive. If you opt for snow cables, you can expect to have a more comfortable drive because they do not create a big amount of friction in comparison to chains.

Chains are much chunkier and can greatly reduce your driving ability. They are heavy duty which is good and will help you to tackle almost anything. But when it is up to comfort. I would advise you not to get chains. Especially if you plan to drive your car for longer periods of time using them.

So, to sum up, real quick, go for chains if you think that you will need that extra edge to help you out in tricky situations when there is a lot of snow and you need to mount them real quick.

If you do not have this need, then go for the snow cables. They are also much lighter and more compact in comparison to the chains and do not weigh a lot as well. Plus they are more modern and better engineered. So, the winner in this duel of snow cables vs chains is the snow cables.

Now let’s discuss what are the things that you need to consider before you buy.

Things To Consider Before Buying – Snow Cables Vs Chains

Before buying the chains or cables, you need to consider some things. If you don’t consider these things, you might end up with bad chains that you will not be able to mount and regret the decision that you made to purchase them. That’s why in this chapter, we are going to cover these things that are important when it comes to snow cables vs chains.

1. The Clearance

The clearance is probably one of the most important factors when you go for winter equipment. Remember the SAE sizes that we covered above. They indicate the clearance that you need.

If you are running a regular car, you would probably need the S limited clearance chains or cables. And go for the other clearance types depending on the application.

If you get a bigger chain size, the chain could rub against the wheel well and cause damage to your car. That’s why this is the important thing to note.

2. Size Of The Tire

The size of the tire is the second most important aspect because you cannot fit any chain type to any tire. There are bigger chains for big tires and small chains for small tires.

You need to learn your tire size. And that is written onto the sidewall in letters and numbers. For example, 205/55/R16. You need to find chains that meet this demand and will actually fit your tire.

Snow Cables VS Chains

If you get a smaller chain than this, you won’t be able to mount them on your tire. So, that means that you are out of luck and will wait for roadside assistance to get you out from the snow.

That’s why make sure that you get the right size of cables or chains.

3. How Much Do You Will Use Them

If you plan to use these for a limited amount of time and be able to mount at your desire, then you should opt for the cables.

If you want to have some heavy-duty equipment that you can put on in a minute and get you out of trouble, then getting the chains is the way to go.

4. The Price

If the price is one of your top priorities. You should go for cables. Chains are quite more expensive when it comes to the comparison with cables. If your budget is quite limited, then the cables are the way to go.

If you don’t have a limited budget. Then going for chains is the better option since these chains are a more heavy-duty and more durable option.

5. How Many Do You Need?

This is a good question. Because the answer depends on your vehicle. So, let’s say that you have a 2WD car, then you don’t need to get a set of chains or cables for the wheels that do not have power. Getting only one set for two wheels will be quite enough. If you mount chains on the wheels that are not powered, your gains would be minimal and you will get stuck.

On the other hand, if you are running a 4×4 or AWD configuration, you can mount them in the rear or at the back. And you can mount two sets on all 4 wheels. Which will be your best bet when it comes to tackling the snow.

Best Snow Cables And Snow Chains On The Market – Snow Cables Vs Chains

Snow Cables VS Chains

In order to help you out, we have decided to make a list of the best snow cables and chains that you can get for your car. Why look elsewhere when you can snatch a pair on Amazon and get them delivered right on time before the snowstorms come? So, if you are interested, follow along.

1. Glacier Passenger Cable Chain

If you want a good set of cables and you don’t want to spend a lot. Then this set of cables is probably for you. The Glacier Passenger Cable Tire Chain has great reviews with more than 526 ratings and an overall rating of 4 stars. Which considering how many of these chains were purchased is excellent. They are perfect for passenger cars with low clearance.

2. Security Chain Company Quick-Grip Light Truck Chains

These Quick-Grip chains by Security Chain are the perfect option for you if you want to equip your truck with a good set of chains. These chains come in a set of 2 which is enough to equip the rear wheels of your truck and turn it into a real snow machine.

They also have excellent ratings of 4.5 stars and more than 345 reviews on Amazon and this tells quite a lot about their popularity.

3. Security Chain Company Cables For Trucks

Another good product by Security Chain. But this time cable design. These cables also come in a set of 2 and are intended for truck and SUV use.

They have excellent reviews of 4.5 stars and more than 1.500 reviews which is quite good. If you are for a set of cables then, this is the way to go. These have the S marking which means that they are quite good for vehicles with limited clearance.

4. Peerless Auto-Trac Light Truck SUV Tire Chain

Similar to other products made by Security Chain these Peerless Auto-Trac chains are heavy duty and are intended for vehicles that have S clearance requirements. Which means that they are perfect for trucks and SUVs. They are manufactured out of manganese alloy steel which is very tough.

They also have excellent reviews with 4.5 stars and 1,800 reviews in total. Good product.

5. Konig XG-12 Pro Snow Chains

This is another good product made by Konig. Remember that Konig is one of the best manufacturers of alloy wheels? They also produce winter equipment. More precisely the Konig XG-12 Pro snow chains.

These chains are perfect for SUV vehicles. For more detailed requirements. Make sure that you read their description and learn if your tires are a good fit for their chains.

Tire Chains vs. Cables Facts:

  1. Tire chains and cables improve traction, grip, and control for driving on snowy and icy roads.
  2. Tire chains are made of steel links and are more durable than tire cables made of steel cables and alloy traction coils.
  3. Tire chains are heavier and more difficult to install, while tire cables are lighter and easier to set up.
  4. Chains are preferred for frequent use and larger vehicles, while cables are more suitable for occasional use and vehicles with low clearance.
  5. Tire chains and cables come in different sizes, and it’s essential to obtain the right size for your car.
  6. Snow chains are required to maintain a maximum speed of 30 mph, while cables have no speed restrictions.
  7. Both chains and cables can be installed by the driver and do not require professional assistance.
  8. The type of car, depth of snow, usage, price, quantity, updates, and installation are crucial factors to consider when choosing between tire chains and cables.
  9. Snow chains or cables may be prohibited on specific highways or clear roads, so it’s important to understand the laws in your area.
  10. The correct installation of either chains or cables is essential for increased safety on snowy and icy roads.

Conclusion – Snow Cables Vs Chains

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to snow cables vs chains. We have learned what are snow cables and snow chains. Then we have covered the sizes of these chains and the clearance that has to be learned in order to know what type of chains or cables do you need.

Then we have covered the installation of this equipment on your vehicle and also on the downsides of running this winter equipment when you are not required to do so.

We also covered the winner of this duel of snow cables vs chains. And for light use, the winner is the cables. Lastly, we learned the things to consider before getting chains or cables for your car and also our top 5 list of chains and cables. We hope that you enjoyed our article on this winter equipment and we helped you with your winter equipment choice.

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