Easiest Installation
Security Chain Auto-Trac

A high-quality tire chain for passenger vehicles and pickup trucks alike.

Check Price
Best For SUVs
König XG-12 PRO 255

A heavy-duty tire chain that doesn’t require an owner’s manual to install.

Check Price
Best Tire Chain Alternative
AutoSock 697 Snow Socks

A traction device that’s lighter and easier to install than most tire chains.

Check Price
Cable Chains
Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6

A cable-style tire chain that requires little clearance to operate effectively.

Check Price
Best Value
Glacier 1046 Passenger Cable Tire Chain

A tire chain that meets requirements for cable traction devices.

Check Price

If you live in an area that experiences severe winter weather, then you know that winter tires or snow tires will only get you so far. While winter tires or snow tires will undoubtedly serve you better than using all-season tires in snow, winter-specific tires need to be paired with tire chains to be most effective.

The best tire chains are easy to install and have protective features to shield your car from damage. However, non-traditional tire chains have developed over the years and are a viable option. Following extensive research, we believe the traction devices below are the highest-quality and most effective on the market.

5 Best Tire Chains

Snow chains on tire. Detail of wheel in winter forest

  1. Easiest Installation: Security Chain Company Auto-Trac
  2. Best for SUVs: König XG-12 PRO 255 
  3. Best Tire Chain Alternative: AutoSock 697 Snow Socks
  4. Best Cable Chains: Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6
  5. Best Value: Glacier 1046 Passenger Cable Tire Chain

Our Review Standards

To select the five best tire chains featured in this buyers guide, our team first combed through dozens of resources such as DIY mechanic and auto enthusiast forums, manufacturer and tire-specific websites, instruction manuals from manufacturers, and reviews from online retailers. We pay particularly close attention to quality reviews and recommendations that highlight the quality of warranties, customer service support, build quality, materials, and overall reliability.

We also factored in the quantity and quality of online retailer reviews from websites such as Amazon, RealTruck, Advance Auto Parts, and more. We looked at factors such as standout customer reviews, prices, meaningful superlatives, and discount shipping eligibility.

Why You Can Trust Us

Since 2020, we have published over 200 auto product reviews in an effort to make shopping for auto products easier. Our team of writers, editors, researchers, and product experts collaborates to thoroughly vet top products. We try to perform in-house testing on real vehicles whenever possible before making our recommendations.

When testing is not feasible, however, our aim is to make your life easier by doing all the online research for you and presenting that research in the form of easy-to-read product comparisons and buyers guides, rather than outright recommendations. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

Tire Chains Buyers Guide

Where and when you use tire chains depends on what state you live in. Several states have similarly written tire laws that allow tire chains or snow tires to be used by any vehicle when required for safety due to snow, rain, or other slippery conditions. These states include:

States with Tire Chain Laws
ArizonaMaineRhode Island
DelawareMichiganSouth Carolina
GeorgiaMississippiSouth Dakota
IowaNew JerseyTexas
IllinoisNew MexicoWest Virginia
IndianaNorth CarolinaWisconsin
KansasNorth Dakota

Keep in mind that some of these states have restrictions on when you can use tire chains, restrictions on the size of the tire chains, and even restrictions on the type of vehicle you may use tire chains on.

States Without Tire Chain Laws

There are a few states and a district within the U.S. that don’t have any written laws concerning the usage of tire chains. These states include Florida, Hawaii, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington D.C.

What Are SAE S Class Requirements?

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) are the firm that sets the standards in the automotive industry. In terms of tire chains, the SAE has several different classes of SAE clearance, including:

  • SAE Class S
  • SAE Class U
  • SAE Class W

For most drivers, SAE Class S requirements are the only SAE standards you need to be worried about when purchasing tire chains. S Class requirements refer to non-reinforced tire chains and cables for vehicles with restricted wall clearances. To meet or exceed this standard, your tire chains must a minimum tread face clearance of 1.46-inches/37.0-millimeters and a minimum sidewall clearance of 0.59-inches/15.0-millimeters.

How Do I Use Tire Chains?

Although our review team has never physically used tire chains, we have done the research. Below is a list of steps to take to effectively use tire chains this winter:

  1. Purchase the correct size of tire chains
  2. Install your tire chains per the manufacturer’s instructions
  3. Only use SAE Class S Chains
  4. Only use tire chains when necessary or required by law
  5. Pre-fit your chains before the winter months
  6. Retighten your tire chains after initial installation
  7. Gently accelerate and decelerate
  8. If a chain breaks, do not continue to drive with broken tire chains
  9. Remove chains as soon as you reach clear roads
  10. Store your tire chains in the trunk so they’re always available when needed

#1 Editor's Choice: Security Chain Company Auto-Trac

The Security Chain Company Auto-Trac meets Class S clearance requirements, even on light trucks. Class S tire chains are designed to be used on passenger cars with restricted wheel well clearances and are deemed to be regular, non-reinforced passenger tire chains. This snow chain is easy to install and can be removed in mere minutes.

A diamond pattern cross chain provides a smooth ride and traction in the worst winter driving conditions. Self-tightening ratchets automatically tighten and center the chain links on the tire. The chain links themselves are made from manganese alloy steel, which ultimately reduces the chance of fly-off during usage. It should be noted that chain tensioners are not necessary and that you shouldn’t exceed 30.0 mph with these chains on your snow tires.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $78
  • Meets Class S requirements
  • Self-tightening ratchets
  • Made from manganese alloy steel

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.1 out of 5 based on over 990 ratings

Many reviewers speak to how easy these tire chains are to install and remove. One customer claimed she managed to install these chains on the side of a mountain in the dark without much issue. Many reviewers credit these tire chains for keeping them safe on the road during the winter months. One man says that these tire chains are still going strong after two years and show no signs of rust.

#2 Best For SUVs: König XG-12 PRO 255

Quick to install, the König XG-12 PRO 255 is designed to fit SUV tires. These snow tire chains feature anti-scratch nylon bumpers that protect alloy wheels. The winter tire chains themselves offer 12.0 millimeters of inside and on-the-tread clearance. This tire chain also comes in a variety of tire sizes, so you won’t have a problem finding a chain size that fits your truck tires.

A patented self-tensioning chain system and micro-regulation system make fastening these tire chains quick and easy. The chain itself features a specially designed pattern with welded double-traction plates to give your car traction off-road and in the snow.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $242
  • Anti-scratch nylon bumpers
  • Patented self-tensioning system
  • Welded double-traction plates

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 615 ratings

Customers on Amazon rave over these tire chains. Many are quick to point out that these chains are incredibly easy to secure to a tire thanks to the self-tensioning system. Several reviewers also note how heavy-duty these tire chains are. One customer claims he purchased and tested these tire chains along with the Pewag RS77 – and that the König XG-12 PRO 255 outperformed them in snow and ice.

#3 Best Tire Chain Alternative: AutoSock 697 Snow Socks

The AutoSock 697 Snow Socks are the best alternative to tire chains on the market, as they offer the same functionality while also being significantly lighter than a traditional tire chain. As tire chain laws vary from state to state, there’s no guarantee that you’ll legally be able to use them in your area. However, the AutoSock 697 is approved for use in all 50 states by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT).

This specific model of snow sock is designed for SUVs and lightweight pick-up trucks – however, other models are available for a variety of other automotive vehicles, such as ATVs. The snow sock itself is made from a lightweight and high-grade woven fabric with an elastomer that resists damage from constant pressure and temperature changes. It should also be noted that this traction device is compatible with advanced braking systems.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $107
  • USDOT approved in all 50 states
  • Made with an elastomer
  • Compatible with advanced braking systems

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.2 out of 5 based on over 690 ratings

Customers rave over this traction device, as it’s notably lighter and less clunky than traditional tire chains. Some customers even claim that these snow socks are easier to install than cable-style tire chains. One reviewer notes that these were a magnet for confused older men trying to understand what in the world was on her wheels. Negative reviews complain the snow socks ripped to shreds in deeper snow.

#4 Best Cable Chains: Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6

Without requiring any movement of your vehicle, the Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6 is easy to install due to a split outside cable with two fastening positions. This tire chain is compatible with anti-lock brakes, traction control, and various other electronically monitored control systems. The Super Z6 is also incredibly low-profile, as it needs only roughly half the amount of operating space as typical Class S products.

A built-in rubber tightener means you won’t need to pull over to retighten the chains on your tires while a diagonal crossmember pattern provides optimal traction in snow. Traction coils are manufactured from alloy steel to increase the lifespan of this product.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $91
  • Meets Class S requirements
  • Built-in rubber tightener
  • Compatible with electronically monitored control systems

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.3 out of 5 based on over 4,900 ratings

Customers love much easier these cable chains are to use compared to traditional tire chains. One reviewer notes his family had to be escorted to their cabin due to a snowstorm and that these tire chains, on his Honda Odyssey, had his car outperforming the AWD vehicles in their convoy. Negative reviews complain about the chains breaking after little to no use.

#5 Best Value: Glacier 1046 Passenger Cable Tire Chain

The Glacier 1046 Passenger Cable Tire Chain is made from alloy and carbon steel. An electro-galvanized coating is featured on the cable to make it resistant to rust. The steel rollers increase tire-to-road contact, providing less noise or vibration and offering optimal stability in wintry conditions. It should also be noted that this tire chain meets Class S requirements.

This ladder-style cable chain meets all 50 states’ requirements for cable traction devices, meaning regardless of where you live in the U.S., you will be able to legally use these tire chains. These lightweight and easy-to-install cable tire chains are compatible with both front- and rear-wheel-drive vehicles. They also come in at around $40, making them one of the best deals in the industry.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $43
  • Meets Class S requirements
  • Electro-galvanized coating
  • Made from alloy and carbon steel

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.3 out of 5 based on over 620 ratings

Hundreds of customers have left reviews for the Glacier 1046, with the reviews being overwhelmingly positive. Many reviewers speak to how low-profile these tire chains are and how necessary they are if you drive a Subaru. One reviewer notes that his two-wheel-drive truck can drive in conditions his AWD truck can’t when he uses these tire chains. Negative reviews forewarn others that the fit and sizing is off with these chains.

Best Tire Chains: Bottom Line

Ultimately, the best tire chains are ones that help you safely and effectively traverse snowy or icy conditions. You don’t need to break the bank on tire chains to help you get from Point A to Point B – but the more you spend, the higher the quality of tire chain. We recommend sticking to tire chains or traction devices that meet S Class standards.

Tire Chains At A Glance

ModelApproximate CostMaterialMeets S Class Requirements?
Security Chain Company Auto-Trac$80 Alloy steelYes
König XG-12 PRO 255$240 Alloy steel & nylonYes
AutoSock 697 Snow Socks$105 Reinforced textileN/A
Security Chain Company SZ143 Super Z6$90 Alloy steelYes
Glacier 1046 Passenger Cable Tire Chain$45 Alloy steelYes

Tire Chains: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.