How to use snow chains - 17th June, 2016

If you live in the North Island then you may have never used chains but at this time of the year it’s something you need to know about if you plan on a skiing trip or a South Island jaunt. Probably best to bone up on this before you’re in a blizzard.

First of all, some areas where snow is common (Queenstown, Milford Sound etc), snow chains are required by law so you must carry them in the snow season or risk a hefty fine or a trip to the ditch on the side of the road. With snow falls sometimes at sea level it would pay to have a set in your car wherever you are, just in case.

Snow chains are chains that fit over the driving wheels of your car and provide much better traction on snow and ice. You can’t drive at normal speeds with the chains on but as the roads are as slippery as jellied eels you probably shouldn’t be driving too fast anyway.

  • It is important to get snow chains that will fit the tyres on your car. It’s no use borrowing some off a mate whose car has 17” tyres if your car has 15” tyres.
  • Instead of waiting until you are in a blizzard, practice fitting the chains at home in the dry; this’ll make it easier when you are faced with Arctic conditions.
  • What will also help when you are faced with what will feel like the coming of the next ice age will be something dry and padded to kneel on, a torch and some warm gloves. Wet knees, numb fingers and poor visibility will really make you wish you’d taken a winter break to Fiji.
  • Fit the chains to the driving wheels. E.g. if your car is front wheel drive fit the chains to the front wheels. If your car is four wheel drive, fit chains to all four wheels.
  • Check your car’s handbook for advice on fitting snow chains to your particular car.
  • Watch this instructional video on fitting chains

Or you could just stay inside this winter.

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