Snow tires vs tire chains

I recently relocated from Seattle WA to central Connecticut and am not very skilled in winter driving. I was wondering if there is a difference between putting chains on my tires vs purchasing winter tires - which would be the better option? Money is a restriction because we did move cross country and would have to purchase either for 2 cars - 1 that is 4wd and the other is fwd.

I would think All-Season tires would get you through the winter. They are certainly adequate here in Chicago. Does anyone not living in Montana or Wyoming use chains anymore?

You should have no need for chains in Connecticut. I agree that an all season tire should work that’s rated decently for snow. If all you need cars for is commuting, you won’t need 4wd either.
Save your money and get two cars with traction control.

For the best result, buy a set of 4 rims and winter tires for each vehicle so you can swap them back and forth.
Depending on where you live, the city/county should have a good enough snow removal system that it shouldn’t matter

If you drive once around the block on chains you’ll never want to drive on them again.

Chains are meant only for the most severe winter conditions, in which they work, and only for short distances, but if conditions are that bad you should just forget about driving and remain in place.

Forget chains.

Winter tires, on the other hand, are a very good idea, and make more difference than you think they would. For normal winter driving I’d rather have four good winter tires than chains.

Regardless of the tire choice or drivetrain configuration, it’s driver ability that matters most. If you or your significant other have little or no experience driving in snow, there isn’t a tire or a vehicle that will save you.

You MUST get some experience driving in snow before you go out on public roads. Without it you are liability to yourself, your family, and the other motorists on the road.

If nothing else is available, a large, empty, snow-covered parking lot can reveal a wealth of snow-driving knowledge for those willing to learn.

As others have said, all-season tires (brand new) might serve you well, assuming you know how to drive in snow.

But you say you don’t.

Good luck.

Tire chains are for people who don’t live where it snows, but venture there occasionally, or for people who live in mountainous areas where chains are required by law. Winter tires are for people who live in the Great White North, and in my opinion, New England qualifies as the Great White North. You should buy a second set of rims (cheap steel rims), and a set of good winter tires. That is what I would do.

I doubt if you need or want chains, but you certainly do want and need winter tyres (four of them) With lack of experience snow and ice is a serious risk factor. If you start thinking just two winter tires will be enough, or that you can get by without any winter tyres please forget it. Winter driving is not about getting stuck, but it is about being safe. You will be a lot safer with four winter tyres than just two.

I have lived my life in mid Ohio and I use four winter tyres.  In fact I expect it will not be long before I am putting them on. 

Drive carefully this year. I have had a lot of driving experience in Seattle area and while they do have snows and some really bad hills when they are snow and ice covered, you really need to ease into the weather conditions and road conditions this year.

Good Luck

I ran cables on my 92 Honda Accord part of one winter long ago. Cables are less aggressive than chains. Great in deep snow. Vibrations prevented driving above 35 mph on dry roads. I drove alternate (unplowed) roads whenever possible. This only lasted about 1 week. Then I bought 4 winter tires, mounted on steel rims, from Tire Rack. You should do the same. Don’t even consider chains, unless it’s to climb a steep snow/ice covered driveway. Putting them on and taking them off takes time and you’ll get cold, wet, and dirty. When a chain or cable breaks (or comes loose because you didn’t fasten it correctly) it’ll damage your fender, CV boot, and anything else it smacks against.

Lars46 has good remarks and advice. I don’t need chains anywhere in Maine, I can’t fathom the thought of needing them anynwhere in Connecticut.

Don’t drive in snow with the fwd vehicle when it snows. Then you will only have to buy snow or Winter tires for the 4WD vehicle. I had a 4WD truck in Maine and didn’t need great seasonal tires to go everywhere and neither did my 85 Escort.

I used to live in Hartford so do whatever you can to get into the Chelan Wa. area. Don’t trust me on that, but I went to Chelan in 1984 and it was the only dry weather I saw that month. It was raining in Limestone Maine; I went to Hartford and it was rainy; I went to Chelan where it doesn’t rain much in Summer and had a nice six days. It was raining when I got back to Connecticut and rain fell every day in Limestone while I was gone.

Now I live in the Augusta Maine area where snow makes the awful roads smoother. Before I drove in Augusta, I believed that eyeballs couldn’t rattle. Eye doctor asked me if I had double-vision. I told him “only if I close one eye”.

If you absolutely MUST drive during the very infrequent snow storms, buy a set of winter tires mounted on rims…Otherwise, stay home on those few days and let the other fools wreck their cars…Save your money and your standard-issue all-season tires will be adequate…As McP said, FORGET chains…

You need a good set of all seasons tires, if the weather is so bad you need chains, STAY HOME. Having lived in Seattle before moving back to North Dakota, the only thing I changed on my car was tires. In Seattle I was more worried about rain and hydroplaning then sliding on the ice. Here in ND I worry about ice and snow, and a GOOD set of all season tires are more than enough IF you slow down and give yourself extra time and space. Don’t follow too close the three second rule becomes the six second rule at the very least. You’ll find a LOT of accidents happen during the first few snowfalls, until people get used to it. Don’t buy chains unless you’re going up mountains or very steep driveways. Again if it’s so bad you need chains you need to stay home.

I lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where it averages 250 inches of snow a year, and never used chains. It’s also illegal to use chains on the roads in Michigan, and I would think that’s the case in Connecticut. I now reside in Wyoming, where they do allow chains, but I still opt for good rubber on my vehicles over metal. Like some others have suggested, go out in a parking lot that’s completely covered in snow and ice and experience what’s like to slide around, learn how to correct for slipping and sliding. If you do have a steep driveway that gets icy, you can always put some sand down to provide some traction.

Several folks suggest getting a set of rims and mount snow tires, well worth the investment! I have Blizzaks and Michelin X ice on various cars. If these tires can’t get me through no one else is moving either, at that point I wait for the snow plow/salt truck. Chains are a big hassle

If OP isn’t a very skilled winter driver, then “trinkystar” probably isn’t up to mounting chains or cables for that matter. It’s not fun because you don’t do it ahead of time when conditions are good. That assumes you have four of them and clearance.

As far as a good set of all seasons are concerned, even the best are only decent in the first 30 to 40 percent of tread. Snow tires are very effective down to the wear bars. If you are willing to keep all seasons that are newer, you can get by. Many people do it, at much greater expense then specializing.