Recommended Snow Tire Chains for a 2017 Mini Countryman ES

Question:

The manual says flat out “Do not mount snow chains.” My Countryman is the new just released ES plug-in hybrid, but I’m guessing the front end configuration is the same as the standard Countryman. The dealership “Mini Genius” says no snow chains means no traction device of any kind. In CA, and I understand some other states as well, Vehicle Code requires drivers to carry chains in a chain control area even if you have AWD/4WD. And in the Sierras there are so many crazy city drivers that the CHP starts chain control as soon as snow starts collecting on the roadway. I learned to drive in snow county so I will agree this is silly. So if this “Genius” is correct, Mini now sells cars that cannot be driven legally in the snow here. I find this hard to believe. So, is this “Genius” correct, or does Mini exclude “alternative” traction devices. The sidewall clearance is 5/8” at most, so cable chains are marginal at best. A question for another day: Why do vehicle manufacturers insist on building cars that have virtually no clearance in the wheel well? I understand it’s about weight, but can’t they afford another inch at least?

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Expert Reply:

If you have the standard size Mini wheels of 225/55-17 that come on most models, then I recommend the Pewag Servo RS Self-Tensioning Snow Tire Chains - 1 Pair # PWRS76 and have a link thickness of 3.2 mm. These are Class S rated chains which means they meet minimum clearance standard and you will need chains with that Class S rating for your vehicle.

A premium option is to use the Konig Premium Self-Tensioning Snow Tire Chains - Diamond Pattern - D Link - K-Summit - Size K44 # TH02230K44. This chain doesn't wrap to the inside of the tire so clearance is not an issue at all. This is a great product, but the design feature does carry a cost. This will fit all the factory wheel sizes of 225/45-19, 225/50-18, and 225/55-17.

The manufacturers basically are trying to get away from any liability due to snow chains in their owners manual. The state laws require them and the manufacturer says they aren't liable. Your best solution is to get a pair of small chains and drive slowly and cautiously when using them. Pewag suggests 25 mph maximum. Most of the time the owners manual will state 30 mph maximum, but in many cases they now say not to use them as you mentioned.

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Jason S

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