Safety Chains

At National Trailer Parts Warehouse we take safety very seriously, this is why we always stock safety chains. Our supplier is Laclede, but safety chains are safety chains, no matter the supplier. Manufacturers still all have to follow set standards and regulations that are set forth by federal and provincial guidelines. The links at the end of this blog are the provincial safety standards for trailers in each province.

The definition for safety chains is “a normally slacked chain used for preventing excessive movement between the vehicle and the trailer”. They provide a secondary means of connection; it includes link chain and all the necessary means of attachment, they are there to retain the connection between the towing vehicle and the trailer, that should NOT be construed as vehicle control or the connection will be maintained in the event of an incident, such as a rollover, collision, etc.

Installing safety chains is relatively simple, below are tips for proper installation:

  • Cross the safety chains underneath the hitch and coupler, remember to leave enough slack to turn and hold the tongue up.
  • Fasten the chains to the vehicle
  • Always make sure the chains are secured properly to the vehicle (check them regularly while towing)
  • Watch for wear or damage to the chains

Just as there are tips for installation, there are tips for how NOT to install them:

  • Do NOT fasten the chains to any part of the hitch (unless the hitch is made with loops and holes for that direct purpose)
  • Never fasten the breakaway lanyard to the chains
  • Never let your safety chains drag on the ground

The chains must be crossed and attached to the vehicle near the points of bumper attachments to the chassis of the vehicle, crossing the chains assists in reducing the probability of stress, plus they also act as a cradle in the even of a separation from the vehicle. Should you twist safety chains? Doing this can and will cause a much higher stress to the links, this could cause them to fail when you need them. A little twist to adjust the length is one thing but stacking or over-lapping the links can create too much strain and stress wear on the chain. Don’ t get us wrong, a chain link in straight pull also has bending forces, but it is limited to the curved area of the link. Twisted chains have those stresses to, except then you add the bending and twisting stress of pulling in a non-straight direction, this causes an unnecessary reduction in strength. You are in a much safer position if the chains are short and setup properly. If your chain is too long you can use a connector or split link to make a loop, physically shortening them is safer. Some minor, incidental twisting is alright, but the links should never fold over each other as the pictures below show.

Safety chains come in multiple classes, see the chart below, it is vital that the chains exceed your GTW (Gross Trailer Weight), the weight of the loaded trailer. Safety requirements for safety chains state that the breaking strength of each chain should be equal to or exceed the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of the trailer. A class III hitch is rated for a maximum gross trailer weight of 5,000 pounds, so you will want safety chains rated as high or higher than the hitch capacity, such as chains that have a working load limit of 5,400 pounds.

Using safety chains when you tow is smart and the law, they are necessary so that in the event that the ball or coupler fail, you are able to maintain control until you can safely pull over. Keep yourself and other’s safe and take the few minutes to ensure they are correctly installed and in good condition, this could save lives and decrease damage.

Provincial Requirements:

Yukon – http://www.healthandsafety.gov.yk.ca/our-health-safety-system/safe-work-practices-and-safe-job-procedures/towing-andtrailering

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