Fitting and Driving on Snow Chains

Learn how to fit chains before you head up mountain

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We know that fitting snow chains can be tricky, but dont worry you hire and learn how to fit them at Rays Ski Shop in Myrtlefod on your way to Hotham. 

Driving Tips

Before you leave for the snow

  • Check your car battery is in good condition (at around 0°c, battery output is about 65% of normal).
  • Check all lights are working.
  • Ensure a good antifreeze has been added to the radiator.
  • Check that air-conditioning is functional.
  • Ensure that tyres are at the correct air pressure.
  • Check that your roof rack is well secured.
  • Ensure if your vehicle uses Diesel that Alpine mix is used. Sometimes only available in towns located near snow fields.
  • Some 4WD vehicles are required by their respective manufacturers to fit chains to all 4 wheels, consult the vehicle's owner's manual for further details.

Driving in snow and ice

  • Always fit chains in bays where you see the "FIT CHAINS HERE" sign. You can be fined at all resorts for not fitting chains as directed.
  • Always make sure you fit the chains to the driving wheels of the vehicle.
  • Do not travel faster than 40 km/h to ensure snow chains do not rub against inside of wheel arches.
  • If you are traveling downhill, always give way to oncoming traffic. It is very hard to restart a vehicle uphill if it has been forced to stop.
  • Should the chain be hitting the vehicle at all, immediately pull over onto the side of the road; locate the loose end and secure it with something
  • Turn headlights on to low beam in poor visibility conditions.
  • Drive cautiously with gradual pressure on accelerator to avoid wheel spin. Spinning wheels will break the chains.

At the resort

  • If you made it to the resort without having to fit chains on, always fit them in preparation for the return journey.
  • Park only where directed. You risk being hit by a snow plough during snow clearing operations if you are parked in an incorrect area.
  • When parking, leave your car in gear with your handbrake off. The handbrake can freeze onto your disc or drum.
  • Cover the radiator with a rug to prevent it from freezing.
  • Lift windscreen wipers from windshield or place wiper in a plastic bag to prevent them from sticking to the glass.
  • Cover door locks with masking tape to prevent locks from freezing.
  • When leaving the resort, remember to clear your roof of snow - failure to do so is an offence!


What do snow chains do for a vehicle when in icy conditions?

Snow chains are an emergency item which are used to provide traction on ice & snow. They come in two types: ladder and diamond pattern

I have a 4WD, why do I have to carry snow chains?

In Victoria it is illegal to enter a alpine national park without snow chains during the ski season, even in 4WDs. It is important to carry chains in a 4WD because when you enter into skid situation the only thing controlling you is brakes and steering and then technically a 4WD becomes a 2WD, this is due to the fact that the drive of the vehicle has no bearing on the outcome.

I have a 4WD, do I fit the snow chains to the front or rear wheels?

In a 4WD it is necessary to fit snow chains to the front wheels in order to assist with steering.

WARNING: There are exceptions to this rule, some vehicles even need to fit chains to all four wheels to alleviate problems with the vehicles traction control. To overcome this, even if you think your vehicle is standard, check your car’s manual. This will give you a clear indication of what is necessary when fitting chains to your vehicle.

I have a 2WD, which wheels do I fit the chains to?

In most cars, the power-train sends power from the engine to only two of the wheels. The wheels that receive this power are called ‘drive wheels’ and chains must be fitted to the drive wheels of the vehicle. To find out if your car in front wheel or rear wheel drive please refer to your car user manual.

I want to get a set of snow chains, how do I know what my tyre size is?

  • Tyres are usually sized using 3 numbers.
  • The number is printed on the wall of the tyre.
  • The letters in the tyre size are not required
  • The most common tyre size in Australia is: 205/65/15

The numbers represent:

  • Width of tyre (mm)
  • Profile/height (% of width tyre)
  • Diameter of rim (inches)

I was wondering what the difference is between diamond pattern and ladder snow chains?

Ladder chains have chains going in an east-west direction only, with these it is still possible to slide sideways as there is not always contact of chain to road, with a diamond pattern chain the chain is run in a two way diagonal pattern and hence the chain is always touching the road and you will always have traction with the surface.

What is the maximum speed I can travel at when I have the snow chains on my vehicle?

When snow chains are attached to the vehicle, you must not travel over 40 kmph this is the recommended speed because otherwise the chains may break and damage the vehicle.

During what period of time do I have to legally carry snow chains? And when do I have to fit the snowchains?

  • Legally all vehicles entering an alpine resort between 1 June - 31 October must carry & fit chains when directed
  • If caught without, it’s a fine of up to $2000
  • When directed fit chains at bays where you see the "Fit Chains Here" sign
  • Unless directed 4WD vehicles may progress without chains fitted

What safety precautions should I take whilst fitting chains to my vehicle?

  • Never work on a vehicle while passengers are getting in or out
  • A vehicle with soft suspension may sink onto your hands or fingers
  • Beware of van’s with sliding doors which open over the wheel arch
  • Vehicles moving in & out of fitting bay’s may not see chain fitters
  • Watch out for bits protruding from the wheel arches

What things should I look out for, or what problems could I encounter whilst fitting my snow chains?

  • Chains fitted diagonally
  • Flapping loose chain
  • Tyre tread worn down
  • Fitting chains to some vehicles is not possible
  • Chains become worn, a chain is considered worn if it is below 50% of its original thickness

How do I fit a chain made of chain links only?

  • Lay chain out on the ground and make sure nothing is tangled
  • Carefully raise the chain and spread them on the wheel and check that the tension chain is on the external side
  • Slowly drive forwards or backwards with the vehicle until the end of the chain is at ¾ of the wheel height
  • Hook carefully the inside of the chain and then the outside
  • Let slide the tension chain through the rings and tighten it with the lever. Wind up the exceeding part of the tension chain through the side chain and fasten it with the elastic end. We suggest to retighten the chain after a short run

Ray's Ski Shop

Get your snow chains at Ray's Ski Shop in Myrtleford.