Tire Chains vs. Cables (Differences, Price + Are They The Same)

If you live in an area where snow chains or snow cables are a big subject when wintertime comes around, you might need to decide whether you should use tire chains or tire cables.

So, which is better- tire chains or cables? If you’d like to find out, continue reading through this article to see what I learned!

Tire Chains vs. Cables

Tire chains and cables are designed to do the same thing – chains are meant for deep and harsh snow, while tire cables are designed to get around in lighter snow conditions and better for road use. Making your decision between the two will be a matter of deciding what is best for your situation.  

If you’d like more information on whether chains are the same as cables, if tire chains damage tires, how many snow chains you need and more, keep reading!

Are Chains the Same as Cables?

Both tire chains and cables are used for the same reason- to gain traction in the snow- but tire chains are designed with large and heavy steel links, whereas tire cables are made of steel aircraft cables that are wrapped-in traction coils.

Can I Use Snow Cables Instead Of Chains?

Deciding between snow cables and chains depends on what kind of snowy roads or trails you most often drive on.

If you plan on doing a lot of road driving or want to get up to speeds past 30-mph, then cables are a good choice, as they’re lighter and easier to install.

But, if you find yourself moving slowly through deep snow more often than not, then the speed limitation from chains won’t be that big of a deal. As well, you’ll benefit a lot from the durability that chains can offer you.

Do Tire Chains Damage Tires?

If you use tire chains properly, you shouldn’t have any damage to your tires. However, doing things like improperly installing chains or taking tire chains on dry pavement can damage both your tires and the road.

Also, by taking tire chains on dry pavement, you’re eliminating the purpose of using them for traction, because you’ll likely have less traction and will have difficulty stopping.

Do I Need 2 Or 4 Snow Chains?

Technically, you only need two tire chains for each side of the powered axle. But, if you have a four or all-wheel-drive vehicle, you would benefit from having four chained tires or two sets of tire chains.

You would also greatly benefit by having 2 sets of tire chains if you drive a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Your rear sets will help you get traction moving forward or backward, and the front sets will help you get traction during turning maneuvers.

How Tight Should Snow Chains Be?

How Tight Should Snow Chains Be?

Snow chains should be tightened firmly against your tire. You don’t want any slack in your chains, because that would not only make them less effective, but loose chains could also cause damage to your vehicle.

When Should I Use Tire Cables?

It’s most important to use tire cables when needed. If you don’t have to drive on snowy roads, you should always take the time to take off your tire cables.

Tire cables are not kind to already plowed snow roads and possibly illegal to drive on depending on where you live.

How Much Do Tire Cables Cost?

Tire cable prices vary depending on the brand you buy, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $150.

For the average shopper, buying somewhere between the more expensive cables and the cheapest ones will probably be your best bet.

The cheapest cables might not be as high quality, while the most expensive ones will be name brand and therefore quite pricey.

How Much Do Tire Chains Cost?

Tire chains can be a little bit more expensive than tire cables because they are more heavy-duty.

But, just like with tire cables, your best bet would be to buy a pair that falls somewhere in between the cheapest and the most expensive, as this is where you will get the most value for your money.

Do Tire Chains Work On Ice?

Tire chains do a better job than snow tires alone on the ice because they’re designed to dig into slippery surfaces.

However, you have to be careful that you don’t gain too much confidence, as getting comfortable and going too fast with tire chains can lead to disaster.

There are other alternatives for the ice as well. Studded tires, for example, give you a good grip if you’re in a place in the world where you experience more ice than snow.

Is It Easy To Install Tire Chains?

Is It Easy To Install Tire Chains?

Installing tire chains for the first time will probably take a little getting used to, but after you’ve done it a couple of times, it’s quite easy.

When it comes time to install tire chains, make sure you follow the instructions so they go on correctly. Also, make sure that when you’re purchasing them to ask any questions you may have to ensure you install them properly.

What Type Of Snow Chains Are The Best?

  • The ÖNIG CB-12 104 snow chains are the best chains for quality versus budget.
  • Security Chain Company QG2228CAM Quick Grips are the best snow chains for trucks.
  • A set of Glacier 1046 passenger cable tire chains are the best-suited chains for low-profile tires.
  • For ease of installation, go with the Peerless Series 2300 Auto-Trac, as they are known as the easiest chains to install.

Is It Okay To Leave Snow Chains On Overnight?

You should have no problems leaving your snow chains on overnight. Just make sure when you do, you prepare for the morning.

When the morning comes, you don’t want to have to do a lot of work before you get in your vehicle and go, especially if it’s cold. Therefore, if you know you’re not going to need them, I’d take them off the night before.

Also, think about putting the chains on the night before the same way. If you don’t want to wake up with the hassle of putting chains on your tires, but you know you are going to need them, put them on the night before.

Are Plastic Snow Chains Any Good?

Steel snow chains will always be more durable, but if you can get away with plastic snow chains, you might benefit a little bit.

Using actual steel snow chains, you run the risk of damaging your tire, your wheel wells, and risk wrapping the chains around the axles and the brake lines. With plastic snow chains, however, this can’t happen.

If you want to know more, you can also see our posts on if tires chains work, which tires do you put chains on, and what are tire socks.

Conclusion

When it comes down to chains vs. cables, you have to strongly understand the winter situations that you face daily.

If you face daily snowy trails that offer you nothing but snow and ice-packed rides wherever you go, then it would probably be best to choose the more durable options of chains, while lighter weather calls for cables.

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