Snowy road trip tip: Laminate the tire chain instructions

Amazon: Thule 12mm CB12 High Quality Passenger Car Snow Chain, Size 090 (Sold in pairs)If you've got a ski trip or a drive to the snow in your future, chances are you'll need to put chains on your tires.

Have you ever tried to install tire chains while pulled over in a slushy turnout, with clumsy snow gloves (or numb fingers) and only a hazy sense of how to do it?

That was my husband and me on our last snowy drive. It was not a pretty sight. The mountain was pretty, but we…were not. After 15 curse-filled minutes spent dropping, crumpling, and ripping the flimsy tire chain installation instructions, we finally got the chains on, but it took another 10 minutes with the car heater on full blast for our hands to thaw.

Determined not to repeat that performance, once we returned home…

  • I laid the still-damp installation instructions on a towel to dry.
  • Once dry, I color photocopied the instructions, reducing them so they would fit inside a laminating pouch.
  • I buzzed them through my laminator.

Now I have tire chain instructions that are waterproof, non-crumplable, and easy for gloved hands to hold. They even slide nicely into the tire chain carrying bag.

*Pats own back.*

I posted a short version of this tip on Twitter and Facebook, but it's so useful I decided it deserved full Parent Hacks treatment.

Related: Uses for the personal laminator

More: Hacks for the snow


  1. Scott says

    An even better option. Snow tires.

    They’re not that expensive by comparison and then you just drive to your destination in comfort and safety without stopping at all.

  2. Bas Grolleman says

    Even with snow tires you sometimes need the chains, depends on the location. I’ll stick with doing a practice run before leaving, added bonus is that you don’t discover there broken or don’t fit when it’s to late to do something about it.

  3. says

    We only have to “visit” winter living in the Bay Area. So, when we do go, and the CHP enforces chains on non-4X4s, we pay the mountain men they employ on the side of the road to put the chains on. :) Best $25 ever spent, since that is messy, dirty, cold work!

  4. says

    Scott: Our local tire shop (the awesome Les Schwab Tires) sez traction tires are great, but you STILL need to carry chains, and sometimes use them. Also, if you’re an occasional snow-goer, it’s not worth the expense or noise (in my opinion).

    Bas: YES. If I had been smart that’s what I would have done. But it’s sort of like “testing a bit of [insert cosmetic here] on your skin and waiting 24 hours to see if you’re allergic.” Makes perfect sense, but I never do it.

    Kristianna: Agreed. Always bring cash on the Bay Area-Tahoe drive! Here in Oregon there are fewer “chain gangs,” so you gotta know how to do it yourself. It’s very easy to put on chains…just clumsy, especially when icy and wet.

  5. Tony says

    With my tire chains I have to latch the chain on both the outside and inside of the wheel, the inside is a pain. I discovered with my front wheel drive vehicle it helps if I turn my steering wheel all the way towards the tire I am chaining (i.e. turn wheel all left for left tire, turn all right for right tire). This makes it much easier for me to latch the chain on the inside of the tire. Otherwise I have to hug the filthy tire or lay down on my back on the slushy ground.

    I also turn the tires when removing the chains as well.

    This suggestion wasn’t in the manual, I just discovered it accidentally a few weeks ago while taking the kids skiing. It used to take me 5 to 7 min each tire to get the chains on. Turning the tires I can do it in about 3 min each tire.

    CAUTION: after turning the wheel, be sure to turn the vehicle off while chaining the tire. Especially if there are little kids in the car while you are in front of the wheel putting on chains.

  6. SusanOR says

    My husband always throws a carpet sample rectangle in the back of the car with the chains & his gloves. That way, when you have to chain up, you can kneel on something dry. Takes small amount of space, easy to deal with.

  7. says

    I once spent a winter up in Utah and i had to put chains on my tires by myself in the freezing temperatures. But let me tell you, they saved my life more times then i can count!