How to Put Snow Chains on Semi-Truck Tires

01.17.2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
It’s that time of year again! Winter has arrived, and along with it comes snow and ice. For many of us, that means dealing with slippery roads and challenging driving conditions. If you live in a more snowy region, or if you’re a truck driver who has to deal with mountain roads, you may need to put tire chains on your semi-truck.

Putting tire chains on a semi-truck can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s important to make sure you do it correctly. After all, your safety (and the safety of others on the road) depends on it. The last thing you want is to be driving along and have your chains slip off because they weren’t put on properly.

So, how do you put tire chains on a semi-truck?

Please note that the list and video below are just examples. It is important to remember the type of driver you are, the company you work for and the type of truck you drive can impact how you put tire chains on a semi-truck. Be sure to consult your company guidelines or speak with your leader for more information about putting tire chains on a semi-truck.

How to put tire chains on a semi:

Step One – Lay Chains Flat – Inspect

  • Test, fit and practice on dry ground and in the daylight.
  • Do NOT put your chains on be in the dark, in a snowstorm, halfway off the active lane.
  • The first step is simply place the chains flat out on the ground. This is a good way to see that the chains are in good order and there is no damage. Then you’ll know they are going to do the job you need them to. Just because you have your chains doesn’t mean they are in good working condition.

Step Two – Drape Chains Over Wheels

Drape the chains over the tire, half to each side. Use your fingers to clean any remaining snow off the chains. Make sure the hooks are facing out and the tensioners are open.

Step Three – Hook the Inside Clip

It is necessary to get under the truck to connect the chains. The inside chain is typically the hardest one to connect, so be patient.

Step Four – Check the Number of Links

Make sure you have the same number of links on the inside of the tire as you do on the outside of the tire. Start over if you have an imbalance because the chains will not rotate around the tire properly.

Step Five – Move the Truck Toward

Move your truck forward so it is easier to tighten up the chains.

Step Six – Tighten Chains

Use tensioning tool to tighten the chains. Leave one-finger worth of space between the chains and tire.

When Ready to Leave

  • Turn off the radio, window down party way and LISTEN as you pull out. You can hear how the chains sound. You can feel how they ride too. It will be bumpy. Once you do it often enough, you can tell by feel and sound if you are hooked up correctly. I can hear my chains ‘sing’ and know how they should sound in either compact snow, fluffy snow, slush or on dry spots.
  • If you suspect you have a loose chain or a link breaks, slow down and stop safely out of the travel lane before you do damage.
  • In the rare circumstance where you are committed, be aware that stuff will get torn up by a loose chain or it will come off and be a hazard for others. This is bad either way.


After you’ve made it up or down the slippery hill. Use a chain off area, parking lot or other safe spot, with 4 ways on. Jump out and remove any bungeess/spiders that you used for tension.

Undo the cam. Sometimes you don’t need them all to unchain. Just undo the hook or boomer on the outside, and hook on the inside. Pull the loose ends of the chain to the side away from the tire and path of travel on both sides.

Always Drive Safely, Even with Tire Chains!

Now that you have a better idea of how to put on tire chains on a semi, you can take this extra step to stay safe on the road during the harsh winter season. Just remember, you’ll need to reduce your speed (typically, max speeds are around 30 mph) while you’re driving with chains on your tires to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of other drivers. And it’s also important to be aware of any local requirements regarding when to use tire chains so you can follow the law. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll be able to efficiently put tire chains on your tires, as well as take them off, without spending too much time getting it all done.

Thank you for reading this article. We hope you found it helpful. At VTS Transportation, we want to make sure that every step of your move is as smooth and stress-free as possible. That’s why we have dispatchers available 24/7 to answer any questions you might have. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our website for more informative articles like it.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide on how to properly put on snow chains, then our video tutorial is the one for you! Our mechanic expert provides step-by-step instructions, along with practical tips and tricks to help you through the process. This can be especially helpful when driving in slippery conditions in wintertime. Make sure to check out our content – don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe so that you’ll be able to take advantage of more informative videos from us!