When you pick up your New Zealand rental car, make sure that there are snow chains or some tire chains in the boot as these are essential for winter driving in some parts of New Zealand. Snow chains allow the driver to maintain traction on steep inclines or slippery surfaces and also increase braking and steering control in adverse conditions. In New Zealand snow chains are obligatory on some roads, and essential in some winter driving conditions.
If you have never used snow chains for your tires it’s a really good idea to do a practice run in good weather conditions and in a safe place so that when it’s blowing and snowing you will be confident in how to put them on correctly.
Follow these simple step by step instructions.
1. Find a safe, level area such as a quiet parking lot or designated chain fitting bay.
2. Park the car, with the handbrake on and in PARK if it is an automatic or in gear if it has a manual gearbox.
3. Remove the snow chains from where they are stored and disentangle them.
Snow chains come in different sizes, and there are a variety of styles. Your New Zealand rental car will undoubtedly come with the correct size snow chains for the vehicle, and these must be located on the driving wheels. If you are in doubt as to whether the car is front or rear wheel drive look in the manual or call your rental agency to be sure.
4. Hang the tyre chains over the wheel ensuring the chains crossing the tyre treads from side to side.
Because you cannot slide the chains under the part of the tyre which is on the ground, just accommodate them as well as you can, making sure that the first chain is placed at the front part of the tyre where it touches the ground. Some chains have rings which help to position them correctly and these rings must be installed on the inside of the wheel and with the opening at the bottom. Once in place, the rings can be joined in a sometimes tricky manoeuvre which requires getting down under the car to reach the backside of the wheel.
5. With the chains in position start the car and slowly move forward a couple of meters so that the wheel runs onto the part with the chains on.
6. Park again as in step two.
7. Attach the closing link to unite the chains and tighten as much as possible. Make sure that the inside and outside rings are as level as you can make them and that the chains are evenly spaced around the tyre.
8. Restart the car and drive slowly for about 2 metres. It will feel strange.
9. Park again. You will find that the chains will have slackened so it is necessary to adjust and tighten them again before continuing. (It’s also a good idea to check them periodically and tighten them if needed).
10. Removing the chains is considerably easier, simply disconnect the inside ring or chain, remove from the tyre as much of the chains as you can and lie them flat beside the wheel and drive forward a little to release the part which was beneath the tyre.
Now you know what to expect and when you actually need to install the chains you can do the two wheels simultaneously.
Here are a couple more safe driving tips for winter.
1. Only use snow chains when indicated or necessary.
2. Install and remove the chains in a safe place.
3. Do not exceed 30 kph with chains on.
4. Dry and store chains correctly after use.
Now you are ready to hit the road, drive carefully and have fun!!