Time to get ready for winter (and regulations) and in looking through Amazon and their buyer’s guide, it looks like the Thule CB12 chains and the Z cables are the best rating. So how to figure out what you need?

  1. Which Thule or Security Chain? They have an amazing range of models and in general Thule gets better ratings but is about twice as much:
    1. K-summit. This isn’t a chain at all, it is a system that is rigid and wraps around the wheel for low clearance sports cars. $550! It works well with alloy rims and it doesn’t contact the rim and doesn’t need any clearance no the inside rim. Pretty cool.
    2. CU-9. Automatic tensioning, so it just goes on and off easily. An amazing $450 list. The video is pretty awesome. You just wrap around the tire and push down the bar and it is done!
    3. CS-10. Automatic removal system is more like a traditional chain but it is super easy to put on. $220. It is a 10mm chain. Or the Security Chain Super Z6 $90. These are both premium chains
    4. CG-9. 9mm so smaller and it has an automatic tensioner to keep it tight around the wheel. $180. The Security Chain Shur Grip Z is the equivalent standard chain and just uses a rubber elastic thing to tighten $75.
    5. CB-12. This is 12mm and has manual tensioning, so you have to make it tight yourself and won’t adjust $99. The Security Chain Radial Chain $32. These are both entry level and good for occasional emergencies. The amazon posters just love this chain. Easy to put on. Main caveat is to straighten after you remove them so that the links don’t twist and break later. Good for 8-12″ of snow! And after use a little WD-40 to prevent rust.
  2. Figure out what size tires you have. Tirerack.com has a cool system that let’s you search for your car and then easily see what the tire size is.
  3. Figure out what size Thule you need. Rackattack.com (pdf) has a nice table for this that maps tire size to chain size. As an aside, Thule chains have a huge price variance from $550 for a pair down to $99 for the CB12.
  4. Where to buy. The Thule CB-12 for instance is $99 on Amazon but $79 at Orsrackdirect.com but Autoanything has a 5% rebate at evrewards.com and $15 off of orders over $150 with code APR13M1 or 15% off if you are new customer with WELCOME15 or is 4x points on BOA.

I have a set of the Security chain radial chains and haven’t ever used them as they are just for those really bleak times and skiing times too. In Washington, if you have a 4wD, you don’t need chains though.

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