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How Fast Can You Drive With Snow Chains? Understanding Snow Chain Speed Limits

Snow chain installed on front driver side tire.

The cold season is approaching, and it's time to ensure your car is as safe as it can be in freezing weather. You may have considered using snow chains to give your car traction on icy roads.

You can drive up to 30 miles per hour in heavy snow or ice, thanks to the added traction created by snow chains. However, even with snow chains, you should still be cautious of the dangers of improper installation, changing weather, and personal driving styles.

Wearing snow chains makes for a great alternative with or without snow tires. Chains can dig into the ice, offer easy installation and removal, and be used on all vehicles. However, despite the added traction, there are limitations, such as the max speed you can reach before it becomes a hazard.

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    Snow chain installed on front driver side tire.
    Snow chain installed on front driver side tire.

    How Fast Can You Drive With Tire Chains?

    The recommended top speed with snow chains is 30 miles per hour in snowy conditions. While they are not officially rated, many manufacturers and regular users agree not to exceed this limit.

    They are still chains on the outside of your tires and should be treated as such. For the safety of yourself, your car, and other drivers, you should not exceed five miles past the max limit.

    We all want to get to our destination as soon as possible, and you may ask, “how fast can you drive?” But first, you must consider how fast you can drive while maintaining safety.

    Snow chains protect your car from slipping but are not meant for high speeds. Like most things, the chains are vulnerable to breaking and can do so if driving fast.

    Driving fast can also push away the snow that chains use to gain traction. But, by rushing, you only put yourself and your vehicle in danger.

    How Long Can You Drive With Tire Chains On?

    When driving with snow chains, be wary of driving for too long.

    They will guide you through heavy snow by giving your tires extra traction.

    If used for too long, the chains will wear down your tire's original treading and make it uneven.

    Your tires should only wear snow chains when needed or in areas with lots of ice and snow to prevent sliding.

    What's The Fastest I Can Drive With Snow Chains On?

    Driving fast with snow chains is not recommended by any manufacturer. The recommended speed you can safely drive is 30 miles per hour, with 35 mph being the maximum speed.

    At faster speeds, snow chains have been known to break off and damage vehicles.

    As stated before, you should only install snow chains when driving on snowy roads and avoid high speeds.

    When driving with snow chains, the rule of thumb is to drive your car only when needed and to stay at the recommended speed of 30mph.

    Some roads require snow chains when there are bad winter conditions.
    Some roads require snow chains when there are bad winter conditions.

    Do Chains Ruin Your Tires?

    If used correctly, snow chains should not ruin your tires or brakes when driving.

    Make sure you choose suitable snow chains, as both regular and snow tires can slip in harsh conditions.

    With proper installation, your tire tread should last its expected lifespan.

    What if I have a large vehicle?

    If you have larger tires, you should still be on the lookout for traction devices.

    While items such as snow socks and studded tires exist, cars can still slip, and it might be helpful to know that tire chains and cable chains are affordable, reliable devices.

    Regardless of vehicle size, check with manufacturers and retailers to find suitable chains for your tire size.

    Snow chains that are improperly fitted can cause safety issues while driving.

    Is It Hard To Drive With Snow Chains?

    Using snow chains should be no more complicated than regular driving.

    Other drivers may also have snow chains if you are in a highly congested area. During this, all drivers should drive slower to ensure the highway is safe for each other.

    If there is a sudden stop, you also want to keep a good distance between the car ahead of you to serve as braking distance.

    Once you stop, you should keep a good stopping distance to avoid any sliding your car may experience from fully braking.

    Traffic is highly congested, so you should continue to drive at a slow speed with snow chains to ensure your stopping distances are as safe as can be.

    Do You Put Snow Chains On All 4 Wheels?

    When putting snow chains on tires, grab one for each wheel. Chains come in pairs, so you must buy two to ensure your car has maximum traction in heavy snow.

    The chains can be fitted on the front and rear wheels and should be installed on all four wheels before driving.

    If you cannot carry four chains, your car will experience uneven traction. If you only have two chains, install them on the drive wheels.

    While having two chains helps, it does not mean the car can't experience fishtailing when turning corners.

    A woman installing snow chains.
    A woman installing snow chains.

    Do I Need 2 Pairs Of Snow Chains?

    Tire chains are sold in pairs and are designed to fit a large range of tire sizes universally.

    Only having two chains on your drive wheels does not allow for full traction.

    Do Chains Help In Ice?

    While they are marketed as “snow chains,” they are designed for various winter conditions.

    Like packed snow, ice is no exception.

    Snow chains give maximum traction over anything that might cause your car to slip.

    Steering on dry roads or pavement ruins both the chain and your tire's tread as it grinds the chain, tire, and road simultaneously.

    One such condition that's accepted is if the car is parked overnight while ice forms to prevent sliding if the vehicle were ever to move.

    Final Thoughts: How Fast Can You Drive With Snow Chains

    Snow chains reduce risks, but driving in snow, ice, or freezing weather will always be dangerous for drivers and their cars.

    While you may be prepared for winter driving with winter tires and gear, you should be cautious of the ever-changing road conditions.

    When snow becomes heavy, or the roads are icy, it's important to drive slowly and never reach a speed exceeding 30mph on any surface besides dry pavement.

    Despite the added traction of tire chains, it does not mean you are safe from harm.

    If the snow chains are improperly installed, they can come loose, damage your car and cause you to slide from the road.

    However, with proper knowledge of driving while using snow chains, you can avoid as much danger as possible while driving your car in the snow.