Snow chain test: Which chains are recommended?

If you drive in mountainous regions, you often won’t get far on snow-covered roads with winter tires alone. If you come across a round sign with a blue background and a snow chain symbol, snow chains are even compulsory. Winter holidaymakers on their way to the Alps in particular should therefore have snow chains in their luggage. You can buy them in aftermarket shops, car dealers or clubs. Depending on the type of chain, the cost of snow chains varies between 50 and 250 euros for a pair. Sometimes even a rental purchase for the holiday is possible: unused chains are taken back for a fee. AUTO BILD tested nine snow chains.

Winner in the AUTO BILD snow chain test Pewag Snox Pro

Snow chain Pewag Snox Pro

Snox Pro
  • Very good driving characteristics
  • Good value for money
  • Easy construction
  • No assembly gloves included
  • A lot of strength required

Price €85.00

In the end, the Snox Pro snow chain from Pewag came first in our test with 177 out of a possible 200 points. It convinced with very good driving characteristics, a balanced price-performance ratio and comparatively simple assembly. A strong rubber cord on the inside of the tire wall provides the necessary traction.

How AUTO BILD tested it

For the snow chain test, we chose a Mercedes E 350 CDI with 265 hp, automatic and rear-wheel drive, with Conti Winter Contact TS 830 P tires measuring 225/55 R 16. First the handling was tested. Quality impression, operating instructions, assembly and disassembly were evaluated. The maximum score in this category is 80 points. The driving disciplines starting/traction, steerability/lateral control and driving comfort were given a higher weighting of 90 points. The price-performance ratio of the snow chains received up to 30 points in the overall rating.

Video: snow chain test

Winter test on the slopes

The test results at a glance

The expensive Centrax and K-Summit comfort chains (easy to mount from the outside as there are no chain parts on the inside of the wheel) were disappointing. Although the handling proved to be very good – assembly only took five minutes – both chains performed below average in the disciplines of starting off/traction and steerability/lateral stability. Overall, our test shows that no chain is perfect. The test winner required a relatively large amount of force to pull the elastic strap over the wheel. In part, there were no effective chain protection elements to protect the rims (Super-Gripp, O-Tec, Ring Automatic and CS 10), in part the equipment left a lot to be desired because no assembly gloves were supplied.

Conclusion on the snow chain test

Since every chain system has its own peculiarities, it is advisable to test the assembly before using the snow chains properly. The practice pays off when you have to go through the assembly with clammy fingers in adverse conditions and sub-zero temperatures.

picture gallery


Nine snow chains tested

Buying a snow chain: you should pay attention to this

The right size: In order to find the right snow chain for the car, the following information is required: the exact tire size and the rim width. To be on the safe side, you should take a look at the car’s operating instructions, because some tire dimensions only fit into the wheel arches with certain snow chains. There can be space problems in the wheel arch, especially in cars that are lowered or equipped with large winter wheels. Special chains with particularly thin links can help here. Or when buying winter tyres, you choose the smallest possible tire dimension that is permitted for the vehicle.

chain type: If you only go on a winter sports holiday once or twice a year, a simple cable chain is enough. Prices start at around 50 euros. Slightly more comfortable models have an automatic system that takes over the re-tensioning (from 70 euros). If there is only little space in the wheel housing or if the chain has to be mounted on the rear axle, spring steel U-shaped chains are more suitable. They cost around 130 euros. It is even easier with comfort chains, the chain does not have to be mounted behind the wheel by hand – from 250 euros.

Requirements: As a minimum requirement, a good snow chain should meet the so-called Ö-Norm 5117 for cars, then it is definitely also approved for use in Austrian ski areas.

Tips for using snow chains

Time: At the latest when the blue mandatory sign no. 268 appears. If you continue driving there without putting on chains, you risk a fine. Of course you don’t have to wait for the sign. Tip: It’s better to wind it up a little earlier. Once you get stuck going uphill and are in the way of other drivers, it quickly becomes very uncomfortable.

Mount snow chains: By law, it is sufficient if only the wheels of the drive axle are fitted with snow chains. However, it is advisable to equip all tires with traction aids, because the braking effect is significantly better going downhill.

Snow chains for all-wheel drive vehicles: All-wheel drive vehicles are also subject to snow chain requirements. Here, too, it is sufficient to fit just one axle with snow chains. If there are no manufacturer specifications and only one pair of chains is available, it should be on the front axle. Reason: The car can be braked and steered better, especially when going downhill. But: Without chains on the rear axle, the rear of the vehicle tends to break out. That’s why it’s best to put snow chains on both axles here as well.

Speed ​​limit: The maximum speed is limited to 50 km/h. And of course the chain has to come down again as soon as the road is free of snow.

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