Do I Need Chains If I Have Winter Tires?

January 27th, 2020
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The answer to the question in the title is “maybe”. Whether or not you need chains if you have winter tires depends on where you’re driving. Some routes require you to have chains in the winter, but many places do not allow you to use chains.
If all of your driving is in Greater Vancouver, then no, you are unlikely to need chains. If you go anywhere else, especially at higher elevations, then you likely will need them.

Let’s take a look at your tire choices:

All Season Radial Tires

These tires can be used all year round. They are pretty good no matter what the conditions.

Winter Tires

Winter tires are a unique set of tires designed with treads that perform well in snow. These winter tires will give you better traction on snow and ice while driving and while braking.

Keep in mind, however, that winter tires perform better at lower temperatures. As the temperature rises close to freezing, or above freezing, when the snow on the road is very wet and slushy, your traction will be greatly diminished.

Studded Snow Tires

These are winter tires that also have little studs that protrude from the tread. They offer better traction than winter tires, but not as good as tires with chains.
Studded snow tires really tear up roads and are against the law in many areas. Whether you can use them or not depends on your jurisdiction.


Tire chains are sold in pairs and come in different sizes based on tread width and tire diameter.

The chains fit around the tire, empowering wheels with an extra grip on slippery snow and ice. It has been noted that using winter tires with chains improve the climbing and traction by 100 %. Chains and winter tires significantly improve the stopping distance because they bite into the snow.

You are supposed to use chains, especially when going through a hill pass or up the mountain, and in extreme snow and ice conditions. In many areas it’s illegal to be without chains. However, in other areas it’s illegal to use them because they will tear up a dry road.

If your vehicle is front-wheel-drive, then you would put chains on the front. If your vehicle is rear-wheel-drive, then you would put chains on the back. You can also have chains both in front and back.

If you’re not sure about what tires you need for the winter or whether you need chains, you can always contact us [link to Contact page] and talk to us about it.
Gary’s Automotive has been providing honest and reliable automotive services in the Greater Vancouver area for over 30 years. If you have any questions about this article or would like to schedule some service for your vehicle, give us a call at (604) 541-1818.

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