Traditional snow chains: These are a series of small interlinking chains that wrap over wheels and secure in place by several methods including tension clasps etc.
These snow chains can be relatively inexpensive and have several limitations. Firstly these chains have a relatively high failure rate. When they do fail it is often when the vehicle is in motion and in this instance the chains can wrap themselves around axles, suspension struts and so on, causing vehicle damage and hassle for drivers.
Traditional snow chain systems have also been known to damage allow wheels. Many of these chains over hang the tyre side wall, which is often close to the alloy or steel wheel itself. As the wheels rotate, some traditional chains have been known to take of paint and cause scuffing. Not bad if your wheels are already damaged and battered. However, drivers with newer vehicles can often be caught out by the attractive low prices of these systems, later having to face alloy damage and repair costs.
Because the chains over hang the side walls, these chains can also come into contact with the wheel arches of the vehicles. This can take off paint and causing dents to the body work especially on low clearance vehicles. Many consumers who have tried these ‘budget’ chains would agree that the low price isn’t worth the risk of damaging the vehicle.
Many traditional chains systems also cannot be used on tarmac. Drivers are advised to remove them as soon as they drive onto clear roads. With intermittent snow conditions prevalent in the UK, this can become very tedious for drivers.
Other issues with traditional chains include storage problems, which can cause them to become entangled delaying the quick application that manufacturers claim. Some chains including ‘self adjusting or ‘self-tightening systems’, have also been known to still take up to 45 mins to fit in real field tests!
Snow Socks: Also known as ‘fabric snow chains’ are a relatively new concept. They are a mid-wearing fabric material that covers the wheel and provides traction in snow and on ice. They work much in the same way that woolly gloves stick to snow with the fibres grasping the snow when wet.
These ‘snow socks’ have been tested and many resellers of this product subtly advise they are an ’emergency’ solution only.
Consumers are advised to only use them ‘in emergencies’ and they are to ‘get a vehicle out of trouble’ only. The web is littered with complaints about these snow socks where consumers were led to believe that these devices could be used all the time on snow. They can’t.
Snow socks have the tendency of ripping very easily, especially when drivers hit intermittent snow and tarmac conditions, which in the UK is common. Drivers are advised to remove the socks as soon as they reach intermittent snow/clear road conditions, a tedious and highly undesirable process. Not only that but if consumers do put them on, take them off then try to reapply them later in the same journey, the fabric is drenched making them very difficult to slide over a rubber tyre in the cold.
For application in the snow, most designs of the fabric snow chain involve the user to be able to get their entire hand over the wheel. Difficult and messy when the wheel arch is caked in dirty snow and mud from the roads!!
Snow socks can cost up to 70 per pair and have been known to only last a day or two when in use. That’s 35 a go! When they fail, they have a tendency of wrapping around axles and suspension arms and are a pain to get on and off especially when they are wet. For 70+ consumers who have tried them often say they definitely would not buy them again.
Expensive, Self Adjusting Systems: Some experienced snow chain users have realised that to get the best out of a snow chain generally, that they need to pay more. Manufacturers have released ‘self adjusting’ systems that attach in 2 parts to the wheels; the first part fixes to the hub semi permanently and is left on the vehicle in winter months. The second part is the actual chain itself. This second part attaches to the first and gradually tightens as the wheel rotates.
These systems can cost around 300-350. Expensive compared to the cheaper solutions like budget chains and snow socks. However, consumers who have experienced the negative aspects of cheaper options, want systems that last, that are relatively simple to fit and provide better traction. These consumers tend to go for these.
However, these pricier systems aren’t necessarily the best ‘value’. Consumers who buy these chains often end up giving them away when they sell their vehicle. This is because advanced chain systems come in predetermined tyre sizes. You cannot therefore transfer the chains between vehicles. And at these high prices, one system per vehicle is steep for consumers who have more than one vehicle per household.
Another issue with these advanced systems is that even with the hefty price tag, manufacturers still don’t provide sets that fit 18″+ wheels! Considering most luxury and sports car manufacturers are now adopting larger wheels, this leaves consumers wondering how they mobilise their vehicles in the snow.
One further issue with the high-end 2-part systems is that once again they are designed with an over-hang. The chain stabilisers fix over the tyre tread and side wall. On low clearance vehicles like Mercedes and BMW’s, this can be an issue. The chains have been known to make contact with alloys and body work (wheel arches) in undesirable fashion often causing damage to the vehicles they are fitted to.
Snow / Winter Tyres: These specially designed tyres offer better grip on snow and ice and have proven results, giving consumers peace of mind. In parts of Europe they are widely used.
What about the cost? A set of winter tyres for 18″ wheels will cost the consumer around 120-150 EACH! For an average vehicle that means a cost of between 480 – 600 to get all 4 wheels fitted!!!
With the steep price tag, consumers are also left with a dilemma. Where will they store their all-season or summer tyres while the winter tyres are on? Consumers have to find extra storage space while paying a hefty price for safety. The winter tyre solution is still not the ideal one.
So what options are consumers left with? Ideally someone will come up with a solution that works perfectly. That will not involve changing wheels or tyres and this new system should fix to the existing summer / all season tyres that 80% of the UK use. This solution should be fast to fix and remove at the roadside and suitable for limited clearance vehicles, causing no damage to the wheel or body work when in use.
The solution should cost less than the most expensive 300+ systems. It should be universal fitting and be transferrable between vehicles, ideally a ‘one size fits all’ system so customers only have to buy one set per house hold.
Ideally this revolutionary chain will have low repair costs and be robustly built. However, should the chain fail consumers should be able to replace just those parts that become worn.
It should even be able to handle small amounts of driving between snow and clear patchy roads. And when driving on clear surfaces for short amounts of time, it should not vibrate the heck out of the vehicle.
So where is this wonderful, ‘next generation’ snow chain?
Patented, just released internationally after 2 years of eager anticipation and ticking all the boxes, the MITA Snow Chains will do for after-market vehicle snow traction aids what Dyson did for Vacuum Cleaners!
The MITA Snow Chains offer ‘one size fits all’ design. Each set comes with enough chains to cover the 2 drive wheels – all that’s needed to make vehicles safer on ice and snow.
The system secures around the tyre tread only, limiting damage to wheels and arches. The ‘tank-track’ style system offers greater surface area in contact with the snow, giving improved traction on slippery surfaces.
The chains can be fitted to almost any summer or all season tyres in less than 2 mins and removed in less than 30 seconds at the roadside. The designers have even managed to eradicate all vibration when the chains are used on snow and even clear road surfaces trough their highly innovative design approach!