Snow Chain vs Cables Whats the Difference? Explained

“Which one should you choose between snow chain vs cables” is a common query because anyone driving through the snow will need to get a snow chain or cables for their vehicle. Even though the two options are enough to move your vehicle during the winter season, it’s important to know their differences.

Snow Chain vs Cables

But which one is the better option? We’ll go through their differences in this comparison article to help you choose the better option for your vehicle.

Features Snow Chains Snow Cables
Weather Conditions Hard-packed or icy snow conditions Light or moderate snowfall
Installation Ease Time-consuming Easier
Noise Loud Almost noiseless
Durability and Weight More durable; Heavier Prone to wear and tear; Lighter
Price More expensive Affordable
Cleaning Easier to clear Requires the use of elbow grease and a hose to clean
Effectiveness Made of metal, and helps to provide better traction on icy or snowy roads Made from nylon or propylene, and doesn’t produce as much traction.


What Are the Differences Between Snow Chains and Cables?

The main difference between snow chains and cables is that snow chains are designed to offer better traction on icy and snowy roads while lasting better than snow cables. On the other hand, cables are easier to install and cheaper than chains, which increases their convenience of use.

They are both designed to serve the same purpose, which is to provide traction in slippery conditions. However, they differ in many other ways. For example, chains are made of heavier steel materials, which allows them to last longer than cables. Cables are generally the ideal option for occasional use, while chains are more suited for long-term use.

To help you understand the differences between the two and determine which is better, we’ll go through their distinguishing features in detail. These features include the following:

– Weather Conditions

Weather condition is a factor that can determine the option you choose. Cables are generally the ideal option to choose if you’re driving in moderate or light snowfall conditions, while chains are the ideal option for hard-packed or icy snow conditions. This is because the chains feature metal links that help to increase traction on snowy roads.

On the other hand, the cables have a smooth surface that helps ensure they don’t get caught in ice or snow. Regardless of the option you choose, it’s important to ensure that they are installed properly for safety.

– Installation Ease

The next distinguishing factor of the two chains is their installation ease. Snow chains have metal bars or links that make their installation process more time-consuming and more difficult compared to cables. To install the chains properly, you’ll need special hardware devices and tensioning tools.

On the other hand, snow cables are installed with the aid of a hook-and-loop fastening system, and this does not require any additional equipment or tools. If you’re choosing based on installation ease, the better option to consider is the cables.

– Use and Applications

Determining the option to use is not always easy, but the main thing to know is that chains offer better traction than cables. However, cables can increase the accessibility for driving through heavy de-icing and slushy snow due to the reduced contact between the ground and the tire.

In most cases, a 2WD vehicle will only require snow cables because the effects of snow on ice turn the wheels automatically. On the contrary, 4WD vehicles have engines that deliver more power, which further increases the performance of the chains or cables. When it comes to flexibility, use, and application, snow chains are the better option to choose.

– Noise Produced

When driving through snow with either of the two devices, you’ll notice some level of noise. However, snow chains are usually louder, especially if they are not installed or maintained properly. In this case, the metal links have a higher chance of rubbing against each other, which can create more noise when driving.

On the other hand, snow cables are almost noiseless because they have smooth surfaces, which helps to lower noise as the cable rubs against the snow. In addition, the cables don’t have any moving parts, so you have nothing to worry about. This makes the cables a better option to consider.

– Durability and Effectiveness

Before buying any of the two for the winter season, it’s important to know their durability and which will last longer. They are both designed to last long, but this is only if they are maintained correctly. However, chains generally have a longer lifespan because they are made of metal. With this, they can easily withstand more tears and wear and are less prone to damage.

The cables on the other hand are made of polypropylene or nylon, which have a higher potential to wear down. Therefore, if you’re looking for an option that will last longer and stand the test of time during winter, chains are the option to consider.

Even though chains are more durable than cable, it’s important to note that they are almost equally effective. However, when it comes to the traction they provide, chains perform better on icy roads than cables.


Cost is a key factor to consider before choosing between chains and cables. Both traction devices are generally affordable, but the chains are made of metal, which makes them more expensive than the cables. Their manufacturing process is also more expensive than that of cables, which are made of polypropylene or nylon.

What Are the Characteristics and Specifications of Snow Chains?

The characteristics and specifications of snow chains include better traction and effectiveness in heavy snow or icy conditions. It is made from metal links around a tire rubber and is designed to make driving in snow easier. Also, they come in different sizes, making them suitable for varying tire sizes.

Characteristics and Aspects of Snow Chains

Chains are basically tire chains used for icy roads, with the metallic links being connected such that it forms a chain construct that is attached to snow tires. They are mostly used on vehicles with rear- or front-wheel drive systems, and this is to increase the traction in cases where the tire would normally spin on its own.
Driving in snowy or icy conditions with chains can allow you to easily reach 30mph.

– Benefits of Using Chains

Here are the benefits of using chains:

  • They make winter driving easier.
  • They offer better traction on icy roads.
  • They are designed to last longer, thanks to their metallic construction.
  • The metallic design helps to increase their durability.

However, it’s important to note that chains are generally more expensive than cable, and their installation requires the use of extra hardware, which can be time-consuming. In addition, removing the chains from the tires after use can be challenging.

What Are the Characteristics and Specifications of Snow Cables?

The characteristics and specifications of snow cables include a similar design to chains, which also allows them to provide more grip when driving in slippery and snowy conditions. They are also a type of tire chain, but they are made from cable, which can be nylon or polypropylene.

Attributes and Properties of Snow Cables

With cables, you can also enjoy increased grip when traveling through slippery and deep snow conditions. However, they are better suited for use on four-wheel drive vehicles. The main selling point of cables is the fact that they are easy to install and do not require the use of additional equipment. They also offer a smoother ride experience, especially when at high speed.

With cables, you can also utilize the option to include an alloy case, which helps to increase the stability of the cable. Like with chains, cables are also available in different sizes, which gives you options to choose the best one for your vehicle tires.

– Benefits of Using Cables

Here are the benefits of using cables:

  • They are made of polypropylene or nylon, which helps to increase their stability.
  • They are easier to install and remove.
  • They are more affordable than chains.

In addition to these benefits, it’s important to note that cables don’t last as long as chains, and they can cause damage to your tires. Also, they don’t offer much traction on ice, which makes them a less effective option to consider.

What is the Difference Between Snow Chains and Cables?

Snow chains and cables are essential tools for winter driving, but there are differences between them. Snow chains consist of metal links that wrap around the tire, offering superior traction on icy roads. On the other hand, cables use steel aircraft-grade cable instead of metal links, providing a smoother ride while still improving grip. When it comes to winter safety, understanding the distinctions and selecting the right option can make all the difference. Also, it’s important to note that this topic does not relate to timing belts versus drive belts.


With snow chains and snow cables, you can drive with increased ease through the winter weather. If you’re thinking of getting one, you might be wondering which of the two options is better. We have highlighted their differences in this article to help you choose the best one according to your needs. When it comes to the grip they provide on snowy surfaces, chains are the better option to consider.

In addition, chains are also more durable and a worthy long-term investment. On the other hand, cables are lighter in weight and easier to install. Driving faster is also a lot easier with cables than with chains, and you can consider cables if you don’t need much durability and grip.

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