Your Garage botysf16 Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it PME Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer WienerDog WienerDog WienerDog  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis Segway miniPro

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

There are a confusing array of tire chains/traction control devices on the market, and even this particular company makes so many different models that it's hard to tell which ones are the best. Here's what you need to know about chains and traction control devices, and why I like the ones made by SCC. I also include some installation hints at the bottom of this review.

There are two broad types of traction control devices: Tire chains and traction control cables. Tire chains are actual chain links. Traction control cables are long pieces of metal cables, covered in a plastic coating, and designed to form a Z-pattern over your tires. The plastic coating is then surrounded by hundreds of tiny, round, metal springs. Cables are generally regarded as better because they are easier to install, last longer, are less damaging to roads, and work better with vehicles equipped with ABS. Also, according to SCC, you can safely drive with cable devices up to 30 mph, even on roads with no snow, without damaging them.

You should normally install traction control cables on your drive wheels, i.e. the wheels that actually push or pull your car forward. If the snow is really bad, though, you may have to install cables on all four wheels. Read your vehicle's owner's manual for more details on where to install your cables.

In any case, it's a really, really good idea to have TWO sets of cables in your car at all times. That way, if something breaks (murphy's law), you won't be stuck.

Within the traction control cable category, there are two general types of cables: Self-tensioning cables tighten themselves using a tensioner (which looks, feels, and operates like a rubber band) that you install when you put the cables on. Manual tensioning cables are tightened by you, and have to be re-tightened after you drive for a couple hundred feet or so. I've heard that emergency vehicles tend to use the manually adjustable models because they are allegedly safer at speeds above 30 MPH, but driving above 30 MPH for any non-emergency personnel is illegal with any kind of traction control device.

There are several advantages to the manually adjustable models. They tend to have more slack, which can make installation easier. Also, the tensioners (i.e. rubber bands) on self-adjusting cables can and do break (it happened to me today) and if they break, you can't use the cables. So, if you get a cable that has a tensioner, get extra tensioners, or better yet, an extra set of cables, just in case.

Here's a breakdown of SCC's cable products:

Z-Chain- Manually adjustable Traction Control Cable. Easy to install, but must be retightened shortly after you start driving. Very easy to install because they come with lots of slack. Often used by police and fire personnel.

Shur Grip Z/Super Z LT- Self adjusting cable. Tensioners can break so buy extras. Less slack, so can be harder to put on the car, but generally easier than Z-chains because you don't have to manually tighten and re-tighten them.

Super Z6/Z8- Newest Self adjusting cable, designed for vehicles with very little sidewall clearance. They have all the advantages and disadvantages of the Shur Grip Z. In addition, however, the connectors are a little harder to work with on this model because of their low profile.

The Z6 and Z8 models are SCC's latest models. They are designed to handle smaller clearances between the side of the tire and the car than their older models. As a result of that design, they are hand crimped during the manufacturing process (instead of machine crimped), and that results in a slightly higher MSRP. SCC's representative tells me that the cable size and metal springs are the same size as their other cable-based products, and so the only reason to not to get the Z6's over the older models (Super Z's) is that the Z6's are slightly more expensive (usually only a few dollars). I've noticed that the Z6 connectors are a little harder to work with than the Shur Grip/Super Z LT model.

On all of these models, the metal rings are made of a spring-like material, SCC says that you don't have to remove the chains as soon as you reach a paved road. Rather, as long as you drive under 30 MPH, SCC says that you can drive with the traction control cables on your car, even as you switch between plowed and non-plowed roads. Because each of the hundreds of little springs are separate pieces, even when one breaks, it just falls off, and the others work to fill-in the void.

The Z6/Z8 models also come with a very nice cloth bag that is sized properly to hold the cables. The older cable-based SCC models come with plastic containers that are too small to easily lay the cables in.

Installing the cables is relatively easy, and I'm definitely not a hands-on kind of guy. It took me about 15 minutes the very first time, and now that I've done it several times, I can get it done in under a minute per wheel. SCC has a video on their web-site that explains how to do it. You should always do a test-installation of cables before you need them to make sure that you purchased the correct size and know how to install it. It's also very useful to have some waterproof gloves handy and a towel with you, as it is often wet and cold when you need to install chains. A good choice for gloves are the long wristed rubber gloves that you can buy at the grocery store for washing dishes, or some disposal latex gloves. After you use the cables for the first time, fold each cable separately and then use a trash bag tie to keep each one together. Otherwise, the next time you need them, they'll all be tangled together.

Here are some hints on how to install these chains.

1. Read the instructions from the manufacturer and pay close attention to the safety instructions. The basics of the instructions are (1) stay safe, (2) position the cables correctly, (3) connect the upper rear connector, (4) connect the upper front connector, (5) connect the lower front connector, and (6) connect the black rubber bands.

The instructions are quite good, but they leave out a few helpful hints, which I will now share with you.

BEFORE YOU START, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CORRECT SIDE UP! There are markings all over the cables which indicate the correct orientation. Look for them!

2. Put on some rubber dishwashing gloves and lay a towel down wherever you're going to work, or you will get very, very dirty.

3. When you slide the cables under your tires, start from a point between your front and rear tires. Slide half of the chain under your car, and then reach around from the other side of the tire to pull the cable around. Although the instructions describe a swinging slide motion, I've never seen anyone who could do that without twisting the cables up. Just pull them and things will be much easier.

4. Once the cables are around the tire, DO NOT pull the bottom connectors that hold the cables together at the bottom of the tire towards one another. Keep them as far apart as possible. If you pull them in tight, you won't be able to pull the chain high enough in the back to connect the rear upper connector, which is what you are supposed to do first.

5. When you are connecting the rear upper connector, if you can't get the rear upper connectors up above the tire so that you can see them, push the part of the cables that surround the bottom of your tire backwards and under your car a few inches. This will create slack behind the cables and allow you to pull the cables up in the back.

6. Once you have the rear upper connector connected, hooking up the front upper connector may be difficult. Try pushing the rear upper connector back so that it is laying against the inside sidewall of your tire and then pull the front upper connectors towards you as hard as you can. Don't try to pull them towards each other. While sitting, just pull them straight out, towards you, and the rest of the chains should fall into place. Then they should be easy to connect.

7. Gently pull the parts of the chain that criss-cross your tires down towards the ground so that they aren't all bunched up at the top. Look at the chain and make sure that the parts you can see, and especially the blue cable, is evenly distributed around the tire.

8. Then pull the bottom front connectors towards you (out, but not up or down) to create slack. Then connect them. Again, don't try to pull them towards one another as that makes it almost impossible to create slack.

9. On these particular cables, the upper front connector is BLACK and the bottom front connector is SILVER. When you're ready to take the cables off, if you get the wheel lined up so that the BLACK connector is on the top, it will be much easier to find and remove the rear connector (which will be opposite the black connector).
2828 comments|1,237 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 8, 2007
First off, I don't know jack about tire chains. I live where there isn't any snow and would like to keep it that way. The only time I've driven in snow has been with a 4x4 truck over short distances.

That said, we've got a minivan now and are heading up to the mountains. In the great state of California, you are required to carry chains if you are going anywhere it might snow.

Our Toyota Sienna XLE has 17" wheels and 60 series tires (on a minivan? OK, now it's cool because it has 17" alloys... Oh please!) Anyway I was very concerned about the 60 series tires not having enough rubber for the chains to fit without scratching up the wheels. In addition there is only about a thumbs-width between the tire and the strut (using calipers, I determined that my thumb is 0.723" thick). These are brand new tires so this is probably worst-case. Also, this van has traction control, stability control and ABS which can all be confused by tire chains that slip and grab.

I test fit these and they exceeded my expectations. They are easy to install (I used the instructions, but I'm just that way). They don't come anywhere near scratching the wheels and they clear suspension with no problems. I don't look forward to installing them in the snow and cold, but if it comes to that I feel these will do a good job. The diagonal pattern should do a good job of maintaining relatively consistent traction so the electronics (ABS etc.) don't get confused. Construction looked robust and consistent. On top of all that, the bag was smaller than I expected and I was able to get everything back in after my test-fit.

Hopefully these and the spare tire will never be used, but they'll both be there if needed.
review image review image review image review image review image review image
55 comments|124 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 27, 2008
My first time using these was great. Record snow storm in So Cal mountains required cables and i never lost traction and only took about 3 minutes each wheel to install. Once your experienced- allow 2 min/per wheel. The split design that allows you to install them without driving onto them is perfect. Removal only takes about 1-2 min/per wheel. I ended up having to drive on them for 3 miles on bare roads without any problems or signs of wear. I also was able to plow through 2 feet of packed snow in a Honda minivan. Update- for rims that bulge out in the middle, the tighteners may rub on it leaving a mark. It just depends on your wheel style.
0Comment|90 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 12, 2007
These are the ones you want to get for your personal safety and peace of mind. Easy to put on and off. You don't have to even move the car to put them on. I have a Toyota Prius and these are much better than what the dealer sold me, for not much more money. You get what you pay for. For me, the extra cost is worth it because these are heavy duty cables for low tire clearance cars and the ease of putting them on is important, especially if you are out in the snow, in a storm or such. You will not regret buying these cables. I returned the unused "dealer cables" back to the Toyota dealer and felt like saying to them "for shame"...(they were so chinsey)...but I was nice and didn't do that. I just told them the truth...that these cables were far superior. Thankx!
11 comment|67 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 28, 2007
Finally forked over for these and wasn't disappointed on two trips up to Mount Hood this week. Handled beautifully in the snow. So happy we got these -- I think they may be the only chains recommended for Toyota Siennas, which have a very small amount of space between the tire and the wheel.

First-tire set-up took about 15 minutes, but each subsequent tire/installation was less than 1 minute. (Practice at home before you have to do it in the cold wet snow.)

Note: you'll be doing lots of tire-hugging to install these -- be sure to get a pair of thin, warm, waterproof gloves, which will help make installation in the cold just that much easier. Also can't hurt to have a mat to kneel on. And keep a flashlight handy for spotting the connecting-point in those otherwise dark, tight wheel wells.
0Comment|62 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 25, 2007
I found this product effective. I traveled safely to my destination and had to drive about .5 miles up a steep hill to complete my journey. I was unable to climb the hill due to the amount of snow, had to back down, put the chains on and walked right up the hill. There were a couple exceptions as to why this item didn't get a higher rating. One of the yellow clips used to pull the chains tight in the middle of the tire came off and because of the tension is probably circling the atmosphere (I used the end of a bungee cord as a replacement). I found areas of my white raised lettering on one of the tires chopped off as well as two places on the sidewall have worn through the black rubber coating exposing the next layer. It is critical to practice putting the chains on before you need them. Carry a flashlight with extra batteries. I guess that's about it. Very effective item, though the other mentioned items were disappointing.
11 comment|97 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 16, 2007
Bought these for my rear-wheel drive Dodge Magnum here in Portland Ory-gun. Stock tires are not setup for snow and rear-wheel drive is a bit trickier in slick conditions with a lot of horses under the hood. So I bought these chains "just in case." Today we had a snowstorm, cars slipping and sliding all over and I wanted to get home. Put on these chains, bit of a struggle to get them all locked in place, and headed out. No problems at all. Passed a lot of cars stuck against curbs or unable to move. The last dragon I had to slay was the big steep hill to the house. Pointed the car up and just kept it pointed straight. Right up with no troubles, maybe a little bit of micro-fish tailing, but the grip these chains gave me worked like a champ. One hint that I discovered, buy a set of gloves to store in the bag with the chains, I did not have any with me and had to hop in the car a few times to get my fingers warmed back up. The little plastic ones they put in there are worthless against cold and snow while you are hooking the chains up.
11 comment|41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 23, 2007
The fit is great for the Xterra which has the tire size given in the guide for this model - be sure to use the size selction guide given for selecting the right model for your tire size.

The instruction manual is a single page in a plastic cover - easy to use compared to a book format.

Getting them on the tire requires some amount of pulling on the cables - one person can do it, and you do not have to be extra strong or anything.
A good pair of gloves will help very much - to protect against cold and the pressure that pulling on cables puts on the skin. The chains come in a nice bag and there is space to keep a pair of gloves in there.

The rubber tensioners use plastic hooks (the yellow things in the picture) - very good in that chances of scratching the wheel is low but do not know how durable these hooks are.

I have not used any other snow chains, so cannot compare the traction quality on ice or snow with conventional chains. The clearance requirements meets or exceeds S class which is what my vehicle specified in the manual.
0Comment|20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 2, 2008
The virtues:
These are lightweight and compact cable chains, strong and effective enough to get you going. If you're already stuck in snow, you don't have to worry about having to lay out the chains and drive onto them. Just lay 'em flat and link the two segments together at the bottom back of the tire. Bring the two segments up and link them together at the top. Hook on the tensioner and drive away.
The drawbacks:
In real-world conditions (it's cold, it's snowing, it's probably dark) putting these on without preparation isn't fun. You kneel in snow and get your legs wet. Your hands get cold and wet and numb, and it becomes hard to mate the links on the back side of the tire. Just when you're close to done and your strength is giving out, you've got to stretch the rubber tensioner rings onto the chain.
So, practice putting them on under agreeable conditions so you know what you're in for. Stow a waterproof mat to kneel on. Put some packs of chemical hand warmers in the chains' carry bag.
And a hint: you'll be tempted to hook the link pins into the matching holes in a straight line. They won't go. Fit the pin into the slot at a 90-degree angle and turn it straight.
I've got a set of these for each vehicle. I've used 'em four times and never been stranded.
0Comment|23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 9, 2007
We just got 18" of snow before the end of the year, so it was great weather to give the cables a try. Ease of installation was great, no need to line up the cables and drive over, it just links around the tire without having to rotate. The cables have been put to the test a few times already, and every time they beat the deep snow and ice. They don't make as much noise as old steel tire chains. The bungee cord cable tightener is easy to put on and seems to keep the cable tight and secure on the tire. The true test will be durability, however they show no signs of wear at this point. I would highly recommend this product.
0Comment|19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Questions? Get fast answers from reviewers

Please make sure that you've entered a valid question. You can edit your question or post anyway.
Please enter a question.
See all 126 answered questions

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.