Winter & studded tires; chains

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Robinson Super Member posted November 30, 2004 09:12 PM

Does anyone have any recommendations for snow chains - manufacturer or specs.


'82 diesel Westy with standard 14" wheels.

RCB Power Member posted December 01, 2004 07:52 AM

Greetings Mike, Happened to be in a Firestone tire dealership the other day (tire rotation,you know)and Gilbert the manager was showing a customer some snow chains. Out of curiosity I happened to ask if chains were available for my 82 Westy; 14inch wheels just like yours and he showed me a pair that he claimed anyone could put on. It had a simple clip to it and was told they could be installed in a few minutes. Now mind you...I have no knowledge of these chains other than what Gilbert mentioned but Ive known Gilbert for 10 years and have no reason to question his knowledge.Good luck and safe driving.......RCB

judlandis Super Member posted December 01, 2004 11:21 PM

I have a set of "European Hoop Style" chains that I got last winter from a local tire shop. (brand: Diamond Back by Quality Chain Corp. - "made in China.") OK, so they're not top quality, but they fit very quickly, without my having to lay on the ground to reach in behind like I used to. Literally about 5 minutes to mount both, drive a few feet, and tighten. After years of hassling with the old style chains, I wouldn't go back. I run 4 snow tires (14") on a 2WD Westy and rarely need the chains, but when they're on I can go anywhere a typical SUV can (unless it's an FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser.)


Mike Robinson

New member
I have some winter driving happening this year and I was wondering what the feeling is about putting winter tires on the rear probably Vredersteins and keeping the Yokahama 370's on the front.

I have 2 spare rims so this would be easy to do.

'82 Westy diesel

Capt. Mike

Although popular and common in days past, it is no longer recommended. The Canadian Safety Council's view:
Mount on all four wheels.

As a general rule, to maintain control and stability of your vehicle you should install identical tires on all wheels. Avoid mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal construction or size, unless specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

The traditional wisdom from the days when almost all vehicles were rear wheel drive (RWD), was to mount two snow tires for winter driving on the drive wheels. The rationale was that this would provide the best forward traction. In fact, putting only two winter tires on a vehicle can change the vehicle's handling so much as to be unsafe.

However, the driving dynamics of FWD vehicles in conditions of poor traction are very different from those of RWD vehicles. Vehicles equipped with FWD need both linear (forward) traction, and lateral traction, particularly on the rear wheels, to prevent spin-out and loss of control.

To help maintain control and stability of your vehicle in icy conditions, install winter tires in sets of four. Remember that, even with quality winter tires, you must always drive according to the conditions of the roads and maintain more distance from other vehicles.

Revised December 22, 2005
Consumer Reports in a comprehensive test of all types, stated:
Get four matching winter tires. Although it may be tempting to just buy two snow tires for your drive axle, reviews say that's a bad idea. Different tires react differently, and non-matching tires can deliver unpredictable handling.
My personal thought is that snow tires only on the drive axles may assist "going", but the critical problems with winter driving tend to center around "stopping and turning", a function of the front wheels. I can confirm that from experience. Before I got the studded tires all around (on a 2WD bay window) , I used chains on the rear. I could go in a straight line, but had difficulty steering, including one sojourn far enough off the paved surface to get stuck. Keeping the front on banked turns was also difficult. Unfortunately, under much snow is a freeze layer of ice. Use the original VW size (185R14D); there is little to be gained by trying to go oversize.

Get a couple of more rims at the junk yard. I have a set of winter studded and it is so convenient to just quick-change all 4 for bad weather. (Air or electric impact wrench makes it easy -- I think I paid $29.95 for a Harbor Freight chinacrap AC impact wrench for times when I wasn't going to have compressed air available.) Since I have the correct, torque-limiting extension (see TOOLS > "Air Tools" topic), I don't even have to torque so the whole operation doesn't take 15 minutes.
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New member
Continental Vanco Winter LT195/70R15 104/102R D Ply Made in Germany now available at Tire Rack. Been snowing here in Colorado since September and I'm very happy with performance. Highly recommend if you can find the sweet 15" South African sweet rims to put them on! PS They are only sold in sets of four and I haven't put the chains on yet - I live at 9000' in the San Juans, drive every day, 87 Vanagon GL Westy 232,500 miles original engine.

[Moderator Note: 195/70R15C 104/102R is not a Westy OE size. However, Contintal's site shows the Vanco Winter in a correct 185R14C 102/100Q capable of 1874# @ 65 psi.]


New member
FYI. I just bought snow tires for my 87 2WD Westfalia. I was told that the Vredestrian Transport Snow (185R14C) was no longer available, but Vredestrian is making another snow tire called Comtrac Winter in a 185R14. I purchased the Comtrac Winter tires for $95 each. (They can NOT be studded.) After a week of winter driving it's clear that they are significant improvement over my summer Yokohama's.

I also checked out the Nokian Hakkapeliitta CQ's in a 185R14r, but found they were $155 each plus $12 each for studs.

[Moderator Note: The Comtrac Winter (& their other M&S patterns) are now directional so cannot be rotated except F to R. In my opinion, this makes them unsuitable for Westies due to the Westyies' tendencies to wear each position differently and this removes the ability to rotate for even tire wire.]


New member
Taking Studs Out of my tires

I have 195/75/R14 studded tires and was wondering if you could remove them and still use them in summer? Is it safe to drive tires that have been studded after removing studs or should I go with a brand new tire on it.