How to Mount Tire Chains to a Tractor




If you want to convert your lawn tractor into a plow to clear snow from your driveway, you'll want to use tire chains. Tire chains will provide the traction necessary to drive on snow and ice in these slippery conditions. Improperly mounting chains can cause them to fall off or be less effective at providing traction.

WARNING: Always read and follow the manufacturer's warnings when operating a tractor. Ensure the surface you'll be working on is clean and level. Turn the tractor off when you are not actively operating it to avoid injury. Wear gloves to protect your hands while working with the chains. Improperly mounting chains can damage your vehicle and potentially cause personal injury.

Step 1: List of Materials

You will need:

An operational lawn tractor

A set of tire chains (2 required for the rear tires, 2 optional for the front tires)

Work gloves

Bungee cords (1 per chain, optional)

Step 2: Lay Out and Inspect Your Equipment to Ensure Serviceability.

Normal use will cause chains to wear down. Inspect the chains for broken links or worn-down areas that can lead to links breaking, and don’t overlook the connecting hooks at the end of the chains. If a chain is damaged so much that it could break during the season, replace it immediately as a break during use can damage your tractor or cause an injury. When you remove the chains at the end of the season, clean and dry them before putting them away to avoid rusting.

Step 3: Extend the Chain Straight Behind the Tire.

Lay the chain directly behind the tire. You’ll want to check that your chain has the U-shaped connectors facing down (see image inset), so that when you wrap the tire the pointy ends are facing away from the tire. You also want to place the chain so that the main connector is on the outside of the tire. Fully extend the chain to take out as much slack as you can.

Step 4: Position Your Tractor Over the Chain.

Start your tractor, and back the tractor up so that the tire is centered on the chain. You always want to operate your tractor in a safe and slow manner . Employ your parking brake, and turn off your tractor after it is centered on the chain. It's a good idea to turn your tractor off when it is not in use to avoid injury.

Step 5: Connect the Inside of the Chain.

Pull out as much slack as possible by pulling the chain away from and around the tire. Connect the chain on the inside of the tire by looping the open end into the closed link. You will want to leave enough slack to connect the outside of the chain, and you will have to come back to this step later to ensure the chain is tightly fit.

Step 6: Connect the Outside of the Chain.

Remove as much slack as possible on the outside of the tire chain, and connect the main connector as far up the chain as possible. You may be able to go back to the inside connector (step 4) and remove more slack by reconnecting the chain on a higher link to shorten the length of the chain. Too much slack in the chain can cause the connectors to disengage, or it could cause damage to a fender or mowing deck.

Step 7: (Optional) Apply a Bungee Cord.

Connect a bungee cord to apply tension on the outside of the tire. Hook one end so that the open connector faces outward and doesn't rub against the tire. Loop the cord through the chain in a star pattern to apply the tension evenly. This will keep the chain tight on the tire so the connectors don’t disengage and the chain fall off during operation. Depending on how well the chain fits the tire, this step may be considered optional.

Step 8: Repeat for Additional Tires.

At a minimum you'll need to mount chains to both rear tires. Repeat these steps to the rest of the tires you have chains for. Monitor the chains during operation to ensure they do not disengage or become too slack. After you have installed the chains, you may want to drive the tractor around to see if they shift. During operation in slick conditions it might be necessary to add weight to the rear of the tractor so that the chains can grip the surface better.



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    9 Discussions


    5 months ago

    Thank you for the help, I live in Alabama and could never figure it out.


    7 months ago

    Good pictures describing the process. Thanks!


    8 months ago

    thats a huge safety concern, you are improperly installing the chains, did you read the instruction manual? i see no mention of airing down your tires, installing the chains then filling up to the proper air pressure


    9 months ago

    Bungees are great for taking up the slack . Tight chains are a bother to put on. Nothing like the frustration of finding that last half an inch to hook the links together. Do yourself a favour and don't cut off excess links. Adjust bungees as the the chain slacks off during use , until the chains are snug . 40 years experience with chains on big trucks .

    Butch Shultz

    9 months ago

    WRONG!!!!!! If the chains are fit correctly you don't need bungees. Cut a few links off and fit the chains to your tires. I've used chains on full sized trucks and on down to garden tractors. It's always best to fit the chains. The chain manufacturers don't always make an exact fit for a certain size tire. If you have a sloppy chain fit and the bungee breaks the can can come off and get stuck someplace and do bad things.


    9 months ago

    One of the things that I do is zip tie the chain ends to the main chain to keep them from swinging around while running. If the chain ends are long enough they can hit your fender and bang it up. I also use a couple zip ties instead of the bungee cords to make sure the chain binders don't work themselves loose.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 months ago

    One other thing I just remembered. I usually let the air out of my tires before tightening up the chain. After the chain is on and you have snugged up the binders I refill them with air. This allows you to get a much tighter fit.


    9 months ago

    Really good pictures describing the process.


    9 months ago

    The bit about using the bungee for tension is good to know! My partner and I were talking about needing to put some chains on our snow thrower so this was timely. :)