Snow chains: what do I have to consider?

Many Germans also travel by car in winter. It is well known that the use of winter tires is now compulsory in Germany. But what about snow chains? Is there an obligation for this as well, or can you decide for yourself at any time whether to create one?


Do I need snow chains? Or are they even mandatory?

Each country has different regulations regarding snow chain requirements. Because these regulations are subject to change at any time, you should before starting a holiday trip by car Inquire in advance whether snow chains are compulsory for the respective winter sports area. There is no general regulation for snow chains in Germany, but on certain roads and passes, depending on the weather conditions, temporarily to a snow chain obligation come. The driver recognizes this from a round blue traffic sign on which a tire with snow chains is shown. Anyone who disregards this sign – and thus the obligation to have snow chains – and continues driving without putting on the appropriate snow chains must expect high fines and, of course, lose insurance cover in the event of damage. The driver cannot excuse himself by saying that he has mounted all-weather tires or winter tires or that he has all-wheel drive. Snow chain obligation means in any case that the put on snow chains unless an additional sign allows you to continue driving with winter tires. But even where there are no special snow chain requirements, it can make sense to put them on if the weather conditions make it necessary to continue driving safely. Drivers should also note that the so-called starting aids on routes where snow chains are compulsory do not count as such. Although these starting aids are also pulled over the tires, they may only be used for very short distances and at a very slow speed (walking speed).
If you want to know whether snow chains are compulsory in your chosen holiday country, you can inquire with the ADAC, AVD or a comparable automobile club. You can also find this information online and a snow chain test at However, since one does not know how old this information is and the regulations can change at short notice, it is better to also contact the respective to inquire about international tourist information. In any case, you should carry a high-quality set of snow chains with you when you go to a winter sports area. That way you don’t get embarrassed when you come across a traffic sign that prescribes snow chains for the onward journey.

Seat Lein X-Perience: A four-wheel drive does not replace snow chains!

Seat Leon X-Perience: All-wheel drive does not replace snow chains!

What are the criteria when selecting snow chains?

Snow chains are not just snow chains. Regardless of the size, there are other criteria that should be considered before buying. Snow chains differ between track chains and drive chains. The track chains are intended to prevent lateral slipping and belong to the steered wheels. The drive chains, on the other hand, prevent the wheels from spinning thanks to the additional transverse chains. As a rule, these are the snow chains commonly used today a combination of both variants. For many motorists, quality and price also play a certain role. However, it should be noted that there is no point in buying the first cheap snow chains you come across just so you can put some on when you are required to. Snow chains should be of good quality. Because snow chains can save lives in an emergency! But only if they meet certain safety standards. At Amazon, for example, you can enter your vehicle model and gets matching hits.

How are snow chains put on correctly?

Depending on the model, snow chains can be attached in two different ways. Either with a normal assembly or by a so-called quick assembly. But no matter which snow chains you own, you have to learn how to put them on. Therefore it is important to Familiarize yourself with fitting the snow chains before setting off, so that in an emergency the individual movements are correct even in bad weather and with numb fingers. During normal assembly, the snow chains are pulled onto the tires as far as possible and then the car is moved forward, with quick assembly the chains can be attached while the car is stationary. To do this, guide the open mounting lever behind the wheel and pull both ends over the tire and close them. hook the short tensioning chain to prevent the chain from slipping off the tyre. After pulling the mounting ring behind the tire, all you have to do is position the snow chain evenly on the tire. Now thread the long tensioning chain into the chain lock, tighten and hook it in. After about 100m ride, the chain should be tightened again. Since the installation can differ slightly depending on the manufacturer and model, you should definitely refer to the respective operating instructions.


Important questions about snow chains

  • Do you always have to carry snow chains?
    It is not compulsory to carry snow chains, even in winter and when the weather is bad, as is the case for the first-aid kit, the warning triangle or the safety vest. However, if you come to an area where snow chains are compulsory due to the blue traffic sign no. 268, you must not continue driving without them. In order to avoid surprises and possible annoyance, you should always have snow chains ready to hand in your luggage, otherwise you are forbidden to continue your journey and you have to turn back. You should also keep in mind that snow chains are for safety and should therefore always be carried.
  • What is the maximum speed for driving with snow chains?
    Just like the obligation to have snow chains, the determination of the permitted maximum speed with snow chains is a matter for the state and can therefore vary. The maximum speed in most EU countries is 50 km/h. However, it can also be lower. Therefore, one should inquire here before starting the journey at a suitable place. If snow chains are compulsory, this speed applies to all roads, including the motorway.
  • Do you have to put snow chains on an off-road vehicle?
    As a rule, SUVs are equipped with automatic or switchable all-wheel drive. If snow chains are compulsory, snow chains must also be fitted here. As a rule, when using a pair of snow chains, they should be attached to the front wheels, as this is where the braking effect and steering ability are concentrated.
  • Which snow chain is suitable for which vehicle?
    All mounting systems are suitable for a front-wheel drive, depending on the requirements and size.
    Quick-fit snow chains are ideally suited for rear-wheel drive, as there is no need to reach into the wheel housing.
    The vehicle manufacturer’s regulations apply to SUVs. If there are none, the snow chains should be on the front axle.
  • Can you replace your snow chains?
    Especially when you buy a new vehicle, the snow chains may no longer fit. Some workshops offer an exchange service at a special price, so to speak, if you give in your old chains and buy a new pair.
  • Can all cars be fitted with snow chains?
    The trend is towards ever larger wheels, which means that there is often no more space in the wheel housing. In such cases, snow chains cannot be used. If you still need some, you should switch to the smallest permissible tire size in advance.
  • Can you also use your snow chain on aluminum wheels?
    Manufacturers have developed special models of snow chains for use on aluminum wheels. Simply ask in advance in the trade or in a workshop.
  • How do you take care of your snow chains?
    Contrary to some opinions, snow chains should not be oiled. However, to ensure that they retain their full functionality for a long time, they should be cleaned well with warm water to remove dirt, ice and salt after each use and then hung up to dry. Only completely dry snow chains may be repacked to prevent damage to them.
  • What should you consider when buying snow chains?
    When buying, you have to make sure that the chain fits the type of car and the tire size, so that you can be safe on slippery roads.

Tip: buy snow chains online!

If you buy your snow chains from Amazon, for example, there is of course always the option of returning them free of charge if you ordered the wrong size or the chains do not fit in the wheel housing in an unfavorable case (e.g. in sporty vehicles) despite the right size.

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