Snow chain placement



On a recent weekend in the wilds of PA, we needed to install tire chains on three vehicles, all 4wd/awd. Most were of the opinion that it was best to chain the front wheels, but discussion ensued on the advisibility of placing one chain on the front and one on the opposite side rear wheel. All drivers made it out though one of the vehicles w/ 2 front chains lost rear wheel traction and slide sideways at one point. The vehicle w/ one front/one rear had no problem.

Any word from people who have tried one front/one rear chain is appreciated.


I would follow the advice in the owner’s manual about the use of chains. It may vary from vehicle to vehicle.

I would not put one on the front and one on the rear under any circumstances.


I agree. As a general rule, if you’re not putting chains on all 4 wheels, I would put them on the real of 4wd and awd. That’s a huge problem chaining cars only on the front; braking and cornering traction are really compromised. One front, one rear should only be helpful if you had a traction aid to distribute power to wheel with traction. Otherwise, my vote would be rear or all 4. That’s what we do with our tractors and plow trucks.


Best choice – all four
Second choice – rear two
Never – front only


If they are 4WD or AWD the chains should go on the rear unless the owner’s manual says otherwise. 4WD is always on the back. You just saw what happens when chains are on the front. AWD never one front one rear or drive system problems could happen.


Semi Trucks will also place chains on the back tires of the trailer for the same reason.


Car Talk Lackey

Correct Placement of Snow Tire Chains on All Wheel Drive 2012 Ford Escape

For a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the chains should go on the front tires. For rear-wheel-drive vehicles, the chains should be applied to the rear wheels. Some trucks and extreme conditions may call for tire chains on all wheels, which is fine, but make sure you put the chains on the right tires when you only have two.


I’d change that to “correct tires” to avoid misunderstanding, right versus left.


The English language has many flaws. You reminded me of Aircrew Coordination training where it was stressed to never say things like “Turn left right now”.