If you’re planning on driving to the snow this winter, make sure you are carrying snow chains. Driving in snow and ice needs special attention and snow chains are not only safer, but for 2WD vehicles they are actually a National Park regulation – you’ll be fined more than $300 if you’re caught without them.
So here’s a quick guide to help you have a happy and safe trip to the snow this winter.
SNOW CHAIN REGULATIONS IN NSW
- Who needs to carry snow chains? The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service requires all 2WD vehicles to carry snow chains between the June and October long weekends when driving through designated ‘snow and ice’ risk sections.
- How do I know it’s a designated ‘snow and ice’ risk section? These are identified by black and yellow signs within the Kosciuszko National Park. The current designated ‘snow and ice’ risk sections are:
• Alpine Way – Thredbo to Tom Grogin
• Kosciuszko Road within the National Park boundary
• Guthega Road within the National Park boundary
- Do 4WDs require Snow Chains? While snow chains are not compulsory for 4WD and AWD vehicles, it’s recommended you carry them during winter, especially if you’re not used to driving on alpine roads affected by snow and ice. However, check where you are skiing, some parks will require all vehicles to have snow chains to enter.
- When do I fit the Snow Chains? When directed by signs or authorities, fit the chains to the vehicles driving wheels. There are special chain fitting bays along the route.
For more information visit: https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/roads/safety-rules/standards/vsi-57-driving-in-ice-and-snow-conditions.pdf
CHOOSING THE BEST SNOW CHAINS
With so many snow chains on the market it can easily get confusing. Here’s a few steps you can take to determine your choice:
- Tyre size – locate the three measurements on the side of your tyre. The tyre width, the tyre shoulder, and the tyre rim diameter expressed in inches. This information will dictate your snow chain size.
- Categories – Snow chains are not created equally. There are three categories of snow chains to choose from; entry-level, standard and premium. As the names suggest the price, performance and quality increase as you head into the premium category. Each category has its purpose and features which help to define the right solution for you.
- Frequency of use – The amount of times you are likely to put on and take off your snow chains will impact your choice. A driver who deals with snowy or icy roads regularly or over multiple seasons is more likely to invest in standard or premium snow chains for ease of use and longevity.
- Safety – The Roads and Maritime Services recommends snow chains comply with the performance criteria specified in the Austrian Standard ONORM.
HOW TO FIT SNOW CHAINS
When choosing snow chains for your car, SUV or RV the fitting system makes all the difference. If it’s a manual tensioning system you will need one stop to put on the chains, and a second stop to tighten them. Where as with a self-tensioning system the chain slips around the tyre as soon as the car moves off.
Premium chains typically have features that make them easier to install and remove than other chains, which minimises the amount of time exposed outside of the car fitting them.
Here is a list of fitting systems across the Konig entry-level, standard and premium snow chains to help you get an idea of what is available:
- Rigid arch fitting system: makes fitting the chain very natural, from the top to the bottom of the wheel.
- External fitting system: the Thule K-Summit model attaches to one of the original wheel lug nuts and there’s no need to fit additional elements to the wheel.
- Flexible cable fitting system: the flexible cable allows you to fit the chain from the bottom to the top of the wheel.
- Easy-fit release system: just press the two red buttons at the same time and release the safety catch, and the chain comes away.
- Automatic release system: just pull on the red release catch on the outside of the tyre and the chain comes off on its own.
- Self-tensioning system with micro regulation: the chain slips around the tyre as soon as the car moves off, and with the micro regulation system, the tension is perfect.
- Manual tensioning system: one stop to fit the chain and one to tighten it.
Once you have purchased your snow chains, we recommended you practice fitting them at home just in case you need to put them on at the last minute, on the side of the road in undesirable weather conditions. This will give you a chance to get accustomed to their installation and removal in a safe environment.
Happy alpine adventures!