If you’ve been looking for a good pair of tire chains, you might have seen the brand Peerless and their snow chains at Walmart. It’s widely available across the country, and you can find these chains for all vehicle types.
The brand’s star product for personal transportation, from SUVs to cars and small trucks, is the self-tightening and automatically centering Auto-Trac. But is it any good? We’ll find out in this Peerless tire chains review.
Here are some of the things you’ll find in this Peerless tire chains review:
- Auto-Trac Peerless tire chains review.
- How to install Peerless Auto-Trac chains.
- How do I know what size tire chains to buy?
- Are cable chains better than tire chains?
- Should tire chains be tight or loose?
- Do you need to put snow chains on all four tires?
Peerless offers lots of different sizes and models of snow chains for all types of vehicles. It’s an accessible and widely available brand, and you can find a good selection of their tire chains at Walmart or online.
The best-seller from the Peerless brand for personal transportation, SUVs, pick-up trucks and sedan-type cars is the Auto-Trac model. It’s adjustable and easy to install, and has self-tightening ratchets that center on your wheels almost automatically. You won’t have to dig out the jack to keep your wheel up or move the car.
The self-tightening ratchet system is the best part of these snow chains. They adjust to your wheels while you’re driving, which means you won’t have to keep doing it yourself when you’re installing. Taking them off is just as easy—just unhook the tire chain from the ratchet and remove it.
Peerless Auto-Trac chains meet S class requirements for clearance between the vehicle and the tire. This means that they’re low-profile enough to use on most pick-up trucks and SUVs, but the tight fit and narrow size means Auto-Trac also works on many passenger cars.
The chain has a diamond-shaped pattern on the tire, which gives a lot of traction to your driving. The material is manganese alloy steel, and the chain is narrow and light. Still, it’s strong enough to get you through even thick snow.
This tire chain is best for occasional use on tough terrain, but not for driving fast. They have a maximum speed limit of 30 miles per hour, and if you use them on your tires for a long time, they might wear out a bit. The hooks and tensioner are also more vulnerable than the rest of the chain, so they can end up breaking.
Fitting a tire chain can be problematic, so make sure you have the right tire size for this product. This model comes in many sizes but can be a bit tight, so make sure to try them on after buying to avoid a nasty surprise. If you’re not sure about the size, contact the brand before you buy for assistance.
Overall, these tire chains are a mid-priced product, and the quality is still good. They’re the kind of chains that’s good to keep handy if you live in a place with unpredictable weather or make the occasional ski trip. The investment just might get you out of an emergency, so it’s not a bad idea to have them in the trunk.
- Excellent traction, even on thick snow.
- Extremely easy and fast to install.
- No need to take out the tire, jack up or move the car for installation.
- Automatic centering means you’ll save yourself a lot of work.
- Good emergency option to have in your vehicle.
- Wide availability in the Walmart snow chains selection and online.
- Peerless is a reliable quality tire chain brand.
- Best for occasional driving, not heavy-duty use.
- Speed limit of 30 miles per hour.
How to Install Peerless Auto-Trac Tire Chains
Peerless Auto-Trac tire chains are easy to install in a matter of minutes. Here’s how you do it.
- Find a flat surface, on the street or in your garage. Make sure you put the hand brake on to prevent the vehicle from moving when you’re working.
- Lay the tire chain on the ground and make sure it’s not twisted or tangled at any point.
- You’ll need to put on the tire chain from behind the wheel, so reach and slide the chain under the car.
- Find the side cable. It should be the only cable without tire chain links and covered in blue and red. Bring both ends of the side cable to the front of the wheel and connect them.
- Put the side cable back into position, behind the wheel.
- Find the top tensioner ratchet. Release the lever on it and pull out the cable to attach on the connector you’ll find on the other side.
- Move on to the lower tensioner and repeat.
- With both tensioners attached, adjust the tire chain so that it’s positioned evenly around the wheel.
- Go to the lower tensioner and find the lever. Flip it back to the original position, so the cable tightens automatically.
- Repeat on the top lever. You should see the chains automatically tightening and centering at the exact right spot.
Important: Keep in mind the right order of attaching and tightening the chains. Always attach the top part first, then the bottom. When tightening, the order should be the opposite.
Do You Have To Tighten Auto-Trac Chains?
With another chain, you’d always have to tighten it after driving for a little while. The Auto-Trac tire chain tightening system does this on its own. You can still check on it after a little while to make sure everything’s working correctly.
If you hear any noises, the chains may be a bit loose and hit your vehicle as you drive. If that happens, you should stop the vehicle and inspect them to ensure the automatic tightening is still working correctly.
How To Store Your Tire Chains Between Uses
When you take your Peerless chains off, clean them, let them dry and oil them if you can. After that, store them in a dry place, so they don’t rust.
How Do I Know What Size Tire Chains To Buy?
To know what size tire chains to buy, you’ll need to know your tire size. This is how you find it.
- Look closely at the side of the tire until you see a series of letters and numbers. These have three key measurements you need to know for your tire size.
- The first three letters, sometimes following the letter P, represent the width of the tire in millimeters. Write them down.
- Next, there should be a dash, followed by two more numbers. These numbers are the width to height ratio of the tire, and they should be followed by the letter R.
- After the R, you should find another two numbers, which is your tire size.
- You should have a series of numbers looking something like this: 123-45R-67. Take those numbers to your auto shop, and they’ll help you find the right size for your tire chains. You can also use the Peerless Tire Size Finder to identify the right tire size.
Are Cable Chains Better Than Tire Chains?
Whether cable chains are better than tire chains depends on where and how often you’ll be using them and what kind of conditions you’re expecting. What kind of a vehicle you’re driving also impacts your options.
Both cables and chains come for all budgets, but a pair of cables is generally cheaper than a tire chain.
If you want to reduce your expenses, we also recommend you buy your chains ahead of time and not get surprised with snow. Buying snow chains at the moment of the first snow in a small town might mean that the prices hike up.
Tire cables are thin metal cables that sometimes carry small metal rings for extra traction. Snow chains, on the other hand, are tough and sturdy tire chain links with a much higher profile.
Given that snow chains are big, they’ll require more clearance between your vehicle and the tire. Most large vehicles will be fine for a snow chain, but a small car might have some problems. If the clearance is very tight, the chain may end up hitting your vehicle when you’re driving, which can damage your car.
Check the owner’s manual of your vehicle to see if it includes a recommendation for snow chains. You can also consult your dealer or mechanic to see if your vehicle is the right fit for chains before buying.
Frequency of Use
If you’re going to be using the chains every day, they’re a better, sturdier and more durable option. For an occasional ski trip, you might be okay with cables, especially if the snow will not be too thick.
If you live in a snow-covered area and get in a lot of miles every day, chains will likely last longer. The more heavy-duty they are, the more use you’ll get out of them.
How much snow are you expecting? Are you going to be driving mostly on snow-filled country roads, or mostly clean pavement with a narrow layer of snow and ice?
A couple of inches of snow are usually fine for a good pair of snow cables, but with thicker snow you’ll need more heavy-duty equipment. Tire chains are bigger, so naturally, they’ll be able to provide you more traction if you’re facing tough conditions.
Should Tire Chains Be Tight or Loose?
A tire chain should fit tight on your tires. This is because a pair of chains that’s too big for your tires will impact your car when you’re in movement. At high speeds, this can cause some nasty damage to your vehicle, not to mention be dangerous.
Always make sure you tighten the chain a couple of times after installing them. While the Peerless Auto-Trac chain does tighten itself, you can keep an eye on it at first to ensure everything remains tight.
Do You Need To Put Snow Chains on All Four Tires?
You don’t necessarily have to put a snow chain on all four tires, but it’s ideal for the best traction and recommended if the driving conditions are very rough. Snow chains are usually sold in pairs, so if you don’t want to invest in a full set of four, you can use only one pair.
In normal situations, you should put the snow chains on the tires that are moving your vehicle forward. This means in the front if you have a front-wheel-drive, and in the back for a rear-wheel-drive. For a four-wheel drive, install the chains on the front tires to help you steer better.
Nobody wants a weak link in their tire chain, so it’s key to buy the right product from the start. Our Peerless tire chains review concludes that Peerless Auto-Trac chains are a favorite among drivers for a reason. They’re amazingly effortless to put on: just flip a couple of clips, and the chains automatically adjust and center themselves.
These chains from the Peerless brand have excellent traction thanks to their diamond-shaped pattern, but they’re also light and low-profile. This makes them adaptable to smaller clearances on sedan-type cars, not only SUVs and trucks.
Overall, they’re not the most heavy-duty chains available, but definitely a product that’s good to have in your trunk in case of an emergency. Just clip on the chains and get back to driving in a matter of minutes, instead of waiting on the side of the road for a snowstorm to pass.