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SUPER Z PASSENGER TIRE CHAINS
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296 of 300 found the following review helpful:
Everything you need to know about traction cables...Jan 25, 2010
By M. Anderson
There are a confusing array of tire chains/traction control devices on the market, and even this particular company makes so many different models that it's hard to tell which ones are the best. Here's what you need to know about chains and traction control devices, and why I like the ones made by SCC. I also include some installation hints at the bottom of this review.
There are two broad types of traction control devices: Tire chains and traction control cables. Tire chains are actual chain links. Traction control cables are long pieces of metal cables, covered in a plastic coating, and designed to form a Z-pattern over your tires. The plastic coating is then surrounded by hundreds of tiny, round, metal springs. Cables are generally regarded as better because they are easier to install, last longer, are less damaging to roads, and work better with vehicles equipped with ABS. Also, according to SCC, you can safely drive with cable devices up to 30 mph, even on roads with no snow, without damaging them.
You should normally install traction control cables on your drive wheels, i.e. the wheels that actually push or pull your car forward. If the snow is really bad, though, you may have to install cables on all four wheels. Read your vehicle's owner's manual for more details on where to install your cables.
In any case, it's a really, really good idea to have TWO sets of cables in your car at all times. That way, if something breaks (murphy's law), you won't be stuck.
Within the traction control cable category, there are two general types of cables: Self-tensioning cables tighten themselves using a tensioner (which looks, feels, and operates like a rubber band) that you install when you put the cables on. Manual tensioning cables are tightened by you, and have to be re-tightened after you drive for a couple hundred feet or so. I've heard that emergency vehicles tend to use the manually adjustable models because they are allegedly safer at speeds above 30 MPH, but driving above 30 MPH for any non-emergency personnel is illegal with any kind of traction control device.
There are several advantages to the manually adjustable models. They tend to have more slack, which can make installation easier. Also, the tensioners (i.e. rubber bands) on self-adjusting cables can and do break (it happened to me today) and if they break, you can't use the cables. So, if you get a cable that has a tensioner, get extra tensioners, or better yet, an extra set of cables, just in case.
Here's a breakdown of SCC's cable products:
Z-Chain- Manually adjustable Traction Control Cable. Easy to install, but must be retightened shortly after you start driving. Very easy to install because they come with lots of slack. Often used by police and fire personnel.
Shur Grip Z/Super Z LT- These are essentially the same, but the Shur Grip's are sized for passenger cars and the Super Z LT's are sized for light trucks. Self adjusting cable. Tensioners can break so buy extras. Less slack, so can be harder to put on the car, but generally easier than Z-chains because you don't have to manually tighten and re-tighten them.
Super Z6/Z8- Newest Self adjusting cable, designed for vehicles with very little sidewall clearance. They have all the advantages and disadvantages of the Shur Grip Z. In addition, however, the connectors are a little harder to work with on this model because of their low profile.
On all of these models, the metal rings are made of a spring-like material, SCC says that you don't have to remove the chains as soon as you reach a paved road. Rather, as long as you drive under 30 MPH, SCC says that you can drive with the traction control cables on your car, even as you switch between plowed and non-plowed roads. Because each of the hundreds of little springs are separate pieces, even when one breaks, it just falls off, and the others work to fill-in the void.
The Z6/Z8 models also come with a very nice cloth bag that is sized properly to hold the cables. The older cable-based SCC models come with plastic containers that are too small to easily lay the cables in.
Installing the cables is relatively easy, and I'm definitely not a hands-on kind of guy. It took me about 15 minutes the very first time, and now that I've done it several times, I can get it done in under a minute per wheel. SCC has a video on their web-site that explains how to do it. You should always do a test-installation of cables before you need them to make sure that you purchased the correct size and know how to install it. It's also very useful to have some waterproof gloves handy and a towel with you, as it is often wet and cold when you need to install chains. A good choice for gloves are the long wristed rubber gloves that you can buy at the grocery store for washing dishes, or some disposal latex gloves. After you use the cables for the first time, fold each cable separately and then use a trash bag tie to keep each one together. Otherwise, the next time you need them, they'll all be tangled together.
Here are some hints on how to install these chains.
1. Read the instructions from the manufacturer and pay close attention to the safety instructions. The basics of the instructions are (1) stay safe, (2) position the cables correctly, (3) connect the upper rear connector, (4) connect the upper front connector, (5) connect the lower front connector, and (6) connect the black rubber bands.
The instructions are quite good, but they leave out a few helpful hints, which I will now share with you.
BEFORE YOU START, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CORRECT SIDE UP! There are markings all over the cables which indicate the correct orientation. Look for them!
2. Put on some rubber dishwashing gloves and lay a towel down wherever you're going to work, or you will get very, very dirty.
3. When you slide the cables under your tires, start from a point between your front and rear tires. Slide half of the chain under your car, and then reach around from the other side of the tire to pull the cable around. Although the instructions describe a swinging slide motion, I've never seen anyone who could do that without twisting the cables up. Just pull them and things will be much easier.
4. Once the cables are around the tire, DO NOT pull the bottom connectors that hold the cables together at the bottom of the tire towards one another. Keep them as far apart as possible. If you pull them in tight, you won't be able to pull the chain high enough in the back to connect the rear upper connector, which is what you are supposed to do first.
5. When you are connecting the rear upper connector, if you can't get the rear upper connectors up above the tire so that you can see them, push the part of the cables that surround the bottom of your tire backwards and under your car a few inches. This will create slack behind the cables and allow you to pull the cables up in the back.
6. Once you have the rear upper connector connected, hooking up the front upper connector may be difficult. Try pushing the rear upper connector back so that it is laying against the inside sidewall of your tire and then pull the front upper connectors towards you as hard as you can. Don't try to pull them towards each other. While sitting, just pull them straight out, towards you, and the rest of the chains should fall into place. Then they should be easy to connect.
7. Gently pull the parts of the chain that criss-cross your tires down towards the ground so that they aren't all bunched up at the top. Look at the chain and make sure that the parts you can see, and especially the blue cable, is evenly distributed around the tire.
8. Then pull the bottom front connectors towards you (out, but not up or down) to create slack. Then connect them. Again, don't try to pull them towards one another as that makes it almost impossible to create slack.
43 of 45 found the following review helpful:
Easy to installDec 13, 2009
By A. Ramanath
This is the first time I tried any tire chain. After reading my Subaru Forester 2008 (AWD) manual, I researched and found that SZ335 meets the specifications - both size wise and the SAE Class "S". Surprisingly, according to manual event though my Subaru is AWD, it requires chains only on front wheels.
The instructions are clear enough, although they should have made it extra clear 1. by giving hints on the picture as to which side of the tire is on which direction relative to you and 2. by providing extra pictures of some keywords they use - bushing, C hook etc. Not that these are hard to figure out but every bit helps when you are out there in cold, snow, sleet etc.
Handling the chains and putting them on the tire and using the rubber tightener were simple and easy. For the first time it took me ridiculously short time - less than 10 minutes for both chains together. Taking them apart was simple and took perhaps not even 1 minute each tire.
These chains came in a box rather than a bag. A bag would have been more flexible. Putting them back in the box was slightly challenging and perhaps the hardest part of the whole exercise!!
I'd recommend taping the instructions sheet on the inside of the box so it doesn't fly away while you are installing the chains.
I also commend SecureChain company for having video on their web-site.
I am yet to try the chains in a really icy, tricky situation but I feel very confident they will work very well.
22 of 22 found the following review helpful:
Interesting Product...Jan 30, 2011
I ordered a set of these just before the snow got deep in our area and I have only used them once. A very interesting experience. I had given a lot of thought to which chains to buy before the purchase but I still learned a lot from just that one use.
First, you DO NOT want to pay extra to get the manually tightened Z-Chain. I had to put these on in the snow the first time I put them on and believe me, it was hard enough WITH the rubber tighteners. Cops, mail carriers, emergency vehicles and the like may prefer the Z-Chain for their long-term durability, but I'm willing to bet that they all have nice, dry, heated garages in which to install the chains. They may need to adjust the chains now an then in the field, but they aren't pulling them out of the trunk AFTER they get stuck. When that happens to you, you don't want to mess with having to re-tighten them once you get them on.
Second, you really SHOULD take the time to put even these supposedly easy to install chains on your vehicle at least once on a dry flat surface during the day. I had to use them for the first time at night with snow caking the tire wells. NOT FUN AT ALL. You just won't know where the tight spots are in your wheel well or how to identify the different connectors on the chain until you actually put them on. On my van you need to turn the wheel to get enough access and you can easily tangle the line on the suspension if you are not careful. It would have been nice to know that in advance.
At least the rubber tighteners worked well. Once you get them connected they are self-centering. I would recommend getting a spare set just in case.
The third revelation I had was that the plastic case the "Sur-Grip Z" chains come in is very disappointing. On mine the plastic is warped so the latches just won't stay closed. I got a great price on them, but I would recommend spending a few extra bucks and getting the Super Z, if possible.
I would also recommend rinsing the chains off in water after you use them and letting them dry before putting them back in the case. Mine have accumulated some rust because I didn't wash off the salt. On the other hand I have decided that rather then put them in the case between uses, it is better to keep them spread out on plastic in the back of my car. My cases don't shut, so I figured, why not have them ready to use at all times.
Finally, I was surprised by how effective they are in DEEP snow, and how INEFFECTIVE they are in light snow. On roads with less than 2" of fresh snow they provide less traction than ordinary all season tires. The only thing that might make them safe is that they make so much noise and vibration you won't be tempted to exceed 35 mph. However on roads with more then 3" of snow cover they work wonderfully. Everything smooths out and you find that the traction is the same as it was in lighter snow. Just to see if I could, I tackled one of the steepest hills in our area both uphill and down with only minor slippage. I wouldn't have made it up at all without the chains and I'd have have slid into the intersection (or the curb) on the way down without them. So I would say they are for what you think they are for: occasional use in extreme weather condition. They are not something you will pull out every time it snows.
I don't think these chains are nearly as useful for winter travel as a good set of winter tires. If you can afford winter tires, that is the way to go. If you aren't willing or able to do that, and you want something that will keep you from getting stuck when you HAVE to be out in really bad conditions, these are very cheap insurance. Just be sure to try them out on your vehicle when it is NOT dark, cold, or snowing so that you can do it later when it is.
26 of 27 found the following review helpful:
A few Words From a Long Term UserJan 05, 2011
By Alan Herendich
Unlike some of the other reviews, this one is specific to this product and to the point. I've used these cables for over a year on my Saturn in Big Bear, CA. Installation is pretty easy with just a little practice. No readjusting after installation; a real plus. Be careful not to spin the tire on acceleration; the hook on the inside can release and the chain will pop off. The rubber tightener is cracked, but has not broken; makes me nervous. The traction coils are wearing well, even with quite a lot of bare-pavement driving. The side cables appear to be untwisting, making the whole unit prone to knotting itself up and more difficult to install, (after a lot of use.) These cables have destroyed my plastic hub caps. Despite some problems, these cables are superior to conventional chains and I would buy them again.
16 of 19 found the following review helpful:
Love and Hate ThemJan 23, 2010
I have used them once so far. Quality is good and they do work well, but it's a pretty rough ride on cleared roads. They are a pain to put on and not quite so bad to take off, but plan on getting full of snow as you put them on or take them off. Put a set in your trunk along with a good pair of gloves and avoid using them if at all possible. But if you get caught away from home and really need to get back after a snow storm, they are wonderful. Also, if you use them in salt conditions, be sure to rinse them off and hang them up to dry before putting them away or they will rust. Doubt if it hurts anything, but the rust stains look bad. I would also recommend putting them on sometime before you need to so that you get a feel for what all is involved. Much of my frustration could have been avoided if I had tried them on in better weather before I actually needed them.
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