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When To Use Tire Chains

Winter is upon us, and with the new season comes new weather challenges for everyone on the road. While most motorists can simply change to a set of all-season or winter tires to help manage the snow, preparation for inclement weather is more difficult for truck drivers. One of the best safety precautions a trucker can take is installing tire chains on their rig. Here is everything you need to know about when, how, and why to use tire chains on your semi-truck.

Semi-Truck Tire Chain Use

Tire chains allow semi-trucks to gain additional traction during snowy and icy road conditions and are a crucial tool during the winter. Most states have tire chain laws, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) issues a notice when it’s time to put them in place. However, if you are experiencing slippery conditions, you do not have to wait for the authorities’ announcement to install chains. You can also use chains to get your truck back on the road if it is stuck.

While tire chains are vital during inclement weather, they can damage dry roads. Make sure to remove them as soon as the snow and ice melt.

How to Put Tire Chains on a Semi-Truck

Now that you understand when and why to use tire chains, let’s discuss how to put them on your rig. Although semi-trucks have 18 wheels, you only need to install chains on the drive wheels.

Follow these six steps to install tire chains on your truck:

  • Inspect chains. Lay each chain flat in front of each drive wheel with the adjustment cams outward. Inspect them for any damage, twists, or knots.
  • Drape chains over wheels. Start with the inside of the tire and loosely attach each chain link at the bottom of the tire. You can also drive your truck forward a few feet to roll the wheels onto the chains.
  • Connect chains. Once the chains are on your tires, hook the inside clips of each chain.
  • Tighten cams. Ensure a secure fit by using an adjusting wrench to tighten the cams.
  • Test chains. Drive a short distance after installation and inspect each wheel for any malfunctions. 
  • Add extra security. For additional security and tension, attach a bungee cord or tire strap across the outside of the wheel to hold the chains in place.

Tips For Driving a Semi-Truck With Tire Chains

Driving with tire chains differs from driving with bare tires.

The following tips will help you drive safely with tire chains installed:

  • Reduce your speed. You risk chain failure and can damage your truck at speeds over 30 mph.
  • Check your weight. Tire chains can add up to 1,000 pounds to your vehicle weight, so adjust your freight load to ensure you pass weight station inspections.
  • Follow tire chain laws. Local requirements regarding tire chains vary. To avoid a fine, familiarize yourself with your state’s regulations and follow them throughout the winter.

Drive Safely During Every Season

No matter what season it is, truckers should practice safety. At DSW, we prioritize the well-being of our drivers, providing them with state-of-the-art equipment to help ensure safety and efficiency on the road. We also provide live, 24/7 support to all our employees while they are on their routes.

Apply today to start your trucking driving career with DSW.