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Mount on all four wheels

Mount on all four wheels

As a general rule, to maintain control and stability of your vehicle you should install identical tires on all wheels. Avoid mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal construction or size, unless specified by the vehicle manufacturer. The traditional wisdom from the days when almost all vehicles were rear wheel drive (RWD) was to mount two snow tires for winter driving on the drive wheels. The rationale was that this would provide the best forward traction. However, the driving dynamics of front wheel driver (FWD) vehicles in conditions of poor traction are very different from those of RWD vehicles. Vehicles equipped with FWD need both linear (forward) traction, and lateral traction, particularly on the rear wheels, to prevent spin-out and loss of control. For safe operation in snow, FWD vehicles should be equipped with four good snow tires — two on the front for linear traction, and two on the rear for lateral traction to control skid and spin-out.

Learn to Install and Remove Snow Chains
Somewhere along the road the slush turns to good honest snow-pack, and you're glad for the heavy little box that's been sitting in your trunk for lo these many months. You'll also be glad to have a good pair of gloves with you, because bare flesh on freezing metal is not a happy combination. Fortunately, just a few minutes out in the cold will soon put you on your way again, this time safely. Besides, who wants to pay someone 50 bucks just to put on a pair of snow chains?

Step zero; before you begin;
You'll need six to ten feet of clearance in either the front or the rear of your car. This will give you the space to maneuver your car onto the chains. If you're out on the road, find a level, straight stretch over on the shoulder. Be sure that oncoming motorists will be able to see you and your car in plenty of time to stay out of your way. If your car is still in the driveway (lucky you) pack down or shovel the snow so that your car can easily roll straight for six to ten feet.
Important Note: Protect your hands and toes! Make sure your parking brake is set before working around your tires. We've received word from an emergency worker that crushed fingers and feet are not an uncommon result of applying snow chains--due to cars unexpectedly rolling a few inches at the wrong moment. As an extra precaution, you also might consider placing blocks under the downhill side of a couple of tires.

First step; Pull out the chains
There are several different kinds of snow chains for your car. Most are made of stainless steel links. Newer models use cables instead of chain-links, and they may be studded or corrugated to increase traction on the road. For the purposes of this 2torial, the name for this tool will be "chains," but the same principles should apply to installing most makes. In the box of tire chains, you should find two sets of chains or cables, depending on the make, and two rubber loops with hooks attached. Each chain set looks sort of like a ladder, with a closing mechanism at the end of each long strand

Second step; Lay them on the line
Once you've figured out the ladder analogy, understanding how snow chains work is fairly simple. The two long strands are designed to wrap around the tire, one on the inside of the tire and the other parallel to it along the outside. The rungs of the ladder, as it were, cross over the tire tread. This ingenious design somehow manages to give your tires support and traction over slippery, soft snow.
Important: Protect your hands and toes! Make sure to apply the parking brake before laying out the chains, and later before hooking them up. We've received word from a few EMTs that crushed fingers and feet are not an uncommon result of applying snow chains--due to cars unexpectedly rolling a few inches at the wrong moment. As an extra precaution, you also might consider placing blocks under the downhill side of a couple of tires.

Determine whether the car is front or rear wheel drive: (Do the front wheels propel the car, or do the rear ones?) You want the chains hooked up to the tires which are doing all the work. If you're on an incline then prepare to let the tires roll downhill onto the chains.

Rear wheel drive: Clear a path in the snow about five feet long in front of the tires. If you have rear-wheel drive you're lucky: the front wheels should have already cleared a path for you. Lay the chains out underneath the car, with the first rung laid against the tire where it meets the ground. If you have cables with studs or some other form of corrugation on them, make sure these are lying face down on the ground.

Front-wheel drive: If you have front-wheel drive, or need to back up your rear-wheeler, then clear a path by stomping down on the snow, shoveling, or driving your car back and forth (if the road conditions allow the last option). Again, lay the chains in the path of each tire. The rung closest to the tire should be wedged up against it. The long strands should extend straight out away from the tires, parallel to each other.

Third step; Drive-up
In this step you'll drive partway onto the chains, check their alignment, and continue driving to put the tires into their final position on the chains.

  • Get in the car, or let a partner do it if you're not alone. Slowly drive the car onto the chains. Stop when you've driven two feet onto them.
  •  Make sure each tire is sitting squarely on its chain. The strands should overlap both sides of the tire equally. Check both tires on this point.
  •  The straight and the crooked: If one or both of the chains are crooked, pull the chains straight into the path of the tire. Make sure each side is parallel. Then pull up the car and stop when the tires are directly on top of the rungs.

Reader's Response: A UPS driver from a mountain ski resort wrote in with an alternative to driving onto the chains. In some instances, it may be difficult or impractical to clear a path in the snow. If so, try draping the chains over the tires.

Lay the chain on the tire as it is supposed to fit (rungs across the tread, strands on outside and inside of tire), then align the remainder behind the wheel. Get as much of the chain on the tire as possible. Pull forward about two feet, not far enough for the other end of the chain to slide off. (You can also use this method in reverse gear). Make sure the chains are still aligned properly on the tires, and that the ends of the chains are in a good position for you to connect them.

Fourth step; Hook them up
Now comes the fun part. Reach down and take hold of the longest ends of the chains. Drape them over the tire so that the long strands hang down evenly, one end along the inside (axle side) of the tire and the other end hanging along the outer rim of the tire.

Take a look at the closing mechanism. Again, different models may work differently, but most operate as a hook or a clip which holds the ends of the chains together. Most mechanisms fit through an open link on the other end of the same strand. Then they're closed shut to hold the strands fast.

The hook-up: Hook the mechanism into an open link which will make the strand into a nice, tight circle. It is important to make the strands as snug as possible, but allow yourself a link or two of slack if it means easier closure. We'll take up the slack in the next step.

Inside, then outside: Hook the inside strand first. Then hook the outer strand. Then move to the other side of the car and repeat the process.

If You Get Stranded in Snow
You may feel helpless, stuck in the snow in a lonely place - but there are things you can do to survive until help reaches you.

  •  Stay in the vehicle.
  •  Don't wander and get lost or frostbitten.
  •  Run the engine for heat about once every hour, or every half-hour in severe cold.
  • Clean snow from around the end of the tail pipe to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. 
  • For extra heat, burn a candle inside a coffee can - but don't set the can on fabric.
  •  Make sure the vehicle is NOT air tight, by opening a window a little. 
  •  Clear outside heater vents. That's the grill under the windshield. 
  •  Avoid alcohol. It lowers body temperature and will cause you to become drowsy.
  •  Leave one window cracked open.
  •  Freezing winds and driving, wet snow can quickly seal a vehicle.
  •  Signal to other motorists that you're stranded by using flares or flashlights, or by tying a piece of brightly colored cloth to the radio antenna.

Drive slowly. Even if your vehicle has good traction in ice and snow, other drivers will be traveling cautiously. Don't disrupt the flow of traffic by driving faster than everyone else. Remember how far it takes to bring your car to a stop on dry pavement? In winter conditions, allow at least 3 times that distance to reach a full stop and avoid skidding. This means your safe distance behind the car in front of your should be 3 times as far. And you must begin braking 3 times as far away from the stoplight or corner where you turn. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, you can usually feel a loss of traction or the beginning of a skid. There may be no such warning in a front-wheel drive, however. Front-wheel drives do handle better in ice and snow, but they do not have flawless traction, and skids can occur unexpectedly. Don't let the better feel and handling of a front-wheel drive car lead you to drive faster than you should.
Despite a popular misconception, the best approach to recovering from a skid is the same for the front and rear-wheel drive vehicles. If your rear wheels start to skid:

  •  Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
  •  If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  •  If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), keep your foot on the pedal. If not, pump the pedal gently, pumping more rapidly as your car slows down. Braking hard with non-anti-lock brakes will make the skid worse.
    If your front wheels skid:
  • Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately. 
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
    To avoid skids, brake carefully and gently on snow or ice. "Squeeze" your brakes in slow, steady strokes. If your vehicle has anti-lock brakes do not pump the brakes, apply a steady pressure. Allow the wheels to keep rolling. If they start to lock up, ease off the brake pedal. As you slow down, you may also want to shift into a lower gear. When sleet, freezing rain or snow starts to fall, remember that bridges, ramps, and overpasses are likely to freeze first. Also be aware that slippery spots may still remain after road crews have cleared the highways.

Expect icy conditions any time the outside air temperature reaches 40 degrees F or lower. Although water freezes at 32 degrees F, road surface can freeze when the air temperature drops to 40 degrees or less. An important place to watch for this condition is on bridges. Bridge surfaces are exposed to the wind and cool off faster than the rest of the road. You should also prepare for icy conditions on roads through shaded areas where a cold wind can freeze a wet road surface.

Snow that has been compacted during the day and has slightly melted will freeze at night. Usually this white ice can be seen on the road. When traveling on white ice, drive very slowly. If you cannot find a place to park until conditions improve, install tire chains for better traction.

Black ice, clear water that has frozen on black pavement, usually forms below overpasses, on bridges, in areas that are surrounded by landscape or on a source of water running across pavement. Black ice commonly occurs in low, shaded areas and/or when the road surface starts to freeze at night. You usually cannot see or feel this ice until the vehicle is already on it. You may not expect a patch of ice because you've been driving on dry, clear pavement. It may be an area where melting snow or a roadside spring caused water to run onto the road and freeze. If you are not aware that the water has frozen, you could lose control and the vehicle could skid.

Lebanon , Traffic Safety

Date: 4/19/2010 9:21:11 AM

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