Insta-Chain Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between the 6-strand and 12-strand chain wheels?

Insta-Chain offers two models of automatic tire chains, a 12-strand version as well as the standard 6-strand. The 12-strand model provides twice the traction at minimum speed as low as 3 mph. All 6-strand models require a minimum speed of 5-6mph. All chain strands use 7 mm chain.

Will Insta-Chain work in Reverse?

We use a specially designed square straight-linked chain so your INSTA-CHAIN will work in forward as well as reverse. So you will have traction you need in either direction.

What if a chain strand breaks or wears out?

The chain wheels are comprised of six patented, interlocking chain strand plates that allow you to replace each chain segment individually, if a strand happens to break or wear out. Therefore, you save money by not paying for an entire chain plate when only one strand needs to be replaced.

Why does Insta-Chain use 100% grease-able bearings on the chain wheel and arm?

As any good mechanic will tell you, grease-able bearings have proved their superiority for years. The wheels and arms work in very harsh environments. They run in water, snow, ice, salt, chemicals, and road debris. By utilizing grease-able bearings, rather than the sealed bearings, your Insta-Chain unit will last much longer than non-grease-able bearings.

What kind of chain does Insta-Chain use?

Insta-Chain uses Pewag StarWave® straight link chain. It is hardened to Rockwell C-Scale hardness (HRC) of 63. During the manufacturing process, as Pewag squares and sizes the wire to make the square chain, they run it through a die that groves the outside edge of the chain, giving it the ‘wave’ look. This ‘wave’ pattern, allows for a more consistent heat penetration as well as gives a better bite into the ice and snow than traditional twist link chain. LEARN MORE

How is the square StarWave® chain better than traditional twisted chain?

Insta-Chain uses the straight non-directional chain for two reasons.  One, it gives equal traction in forward and reverse, and two, the straight square chain (especially with the Pewag StarWave® chain) gives a longer biting surface into the ice and snow for better traction.

How long will the chains last?

The chains will last much longer than any standard ladder chains because they are used only when needed on ice or snow. Chain wears out when it touches bare pavement. So the chains will last longer when used on snow packed conditions or solid ice. If they are used on thin snow and ice where the chain can still touch the pavement, they will wear faster. The Insta-Chains are engaged and disengaged as needed so as to prolong the life of the chain. Insta-Chain also uses a steel alloy hardened to HRC 63 for maximum wear and durability.

Is Insta-Chain DOT approved?

Yes, Insta-Chain is DOT accepted for use in every state with chain control areas.

How fast can I go with the Insta-Chains?

Like regular ladder chains, you should not exceed a speed of 30 mph while the Insta-Chains are engaged. The Insta-Chains may be engaged up to 25 mph, and can be disengaged at any time or speed. Insta-Chains work best when engaged while moving, before slippage occurs. You can engage the chains from a stand still by spinning the wheels at least 5 mph and then engaging the Insta-Chains.

How are they installed? Who can do it?

Insta-Chains are mounted by attaching the chain unit to the U-bolts on the vehicle’s suspension with a universal that will fit most vehicles, or with a custom bracket that is specifically designed for your vehicle. You can install the chains yourself by following the directions or you can have your local Insta-Chain dealer do the installation.

What are the differences between Insta-Chain and other brands?

Insta-Chain has designed several features into its system to make it the best automatic icechain on the market. These unique features are: Individually replaceable chains-one at a time, the option for either six or twelve chains per wheel, grease-able wheel and arm bearings, a dust boot in the air cylinder housing, and a completely universal mounting bracket for easier installations on certain applications.

Does Insta-Chain work in deep snow?

The Insta-Chains are effective in snow up to 6-8” depending on the type of snow and consistency of the snow. If it is powdery snow then the chains can pass through it easier. If it is a wet slushy snow, the chain may become inhibited at deeper snow depths.

What are the advantages to a Universal Mounting Bracket?

Insta-Chains Universal Mounting Bracket is designed to be completely adjustable. It allows for an easier installation, by letting the installer position the unit as needed to make the proper adjustments. Other advantages to a universal bracket are that a dealer can stock a unit for a quick sale, or he can have the unit arrive at a specific date without requiring many measurements. Insta-Chain will provide a custom bracket upon request.

Why are grease-able Chain Wheel and Arm Bearings important?

The Insta-Chain wheel rides between 3-4” off the ground, in the salt, snow, slush, and road chemicals. In these environments, it is imperative that the bearings have the capability to be greased. A greaseable bearing will drastically increase the life of your Insta-Chains.

If I break one chain now, will I have to replace the others soon?

The chains typically all wear together. If you break one, it is usually due to an odd circumstance. Insta-Chain allows you change just the one chain, and the chances are that you will not have to replace another for some time.

If I replace only one chain now, will it throw the Chain Wheel off balance?

No. This is a common myth in the industry perpetuated by our competitor. The Insta-Chain wheel works at a relatively low rpm. The amount of chain mass between a new and used chain link is relatively small. This difference will not throw off the functionality of the chains wheels.

Why does the Insta-Chain unit have a Dust Boot?

The Dust Boot protects the Air Cylinder from clogging up with dirt, rocks, pebbles, sand, and other road debris.

Can Insta-Chains fit on my vehicle?

Most likely, yes. Insta-Chain fits the widest variety of vehicles and suspensions on the road.

Will Insta-Chain parts fit on the competitors units?

Yes, many Insta-Chain parts are interchangeable with some competitors chain units. Namely the Chain Wheels, Chain Links, and Air Cylinders, Ball Joints, Solenoids, and other parts as well.



Time is money. Keep your fleet safely on the road with Insta-Chain Automatic Ice Chains.

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