BMW Stuck In The Snow? Guess Which End Your Chains Go On...

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BMW 1-Series with snow chains on front wheels, Staffordshire, England, Dec 2010, photo by Andy Smith

BMW 1-Series with snow chains on front wheels, Staffordshire, England, Dec 2010, photo by Andy Smith

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Back in the day, buying a BMW was something only true sports sedan fanatics understood. But the legendary 2002 is long gone--35 years now--and all sorts of new folks are buying Bimmers.

Including those, apparently, who think their BMW 1-Series has front-wheel drive.

Earlier this year, CEO Norbert Reithofer revealed that no fewer than 80 percent of 1-Series buyers believed their beloved BMWs were pulled around corners from the front. The paramedics are still cleaning up the heart attacks in Munich.

Now comes photographic proof.

Our U.K. reader Andy 'Smuffy' Smith sent us this photo, showing a BMW 1-Series with chains mounted on the front wheels. Which won't help it on snowy roads since, like every BMW to date, it's the rear wheels that are driven by the engine--and are the ones that are supposed to get chains for better traction.

The photo was taken yesterday in Staffordshire, one of the many areas of England that's been hit by cold, snowy weather unusually early this winter.

We just wonder if the hapless 1-Series driver even noticed that his (or her) BMW wasn't driving any better with chains on than it did without them ....

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Comments (19)
  1. As the owner of a fire-engine red classic BMW 1600 back in 1969, I've lamented the change in the brand's demographic over the decades. Now, BMW is merely an over-priced fashion statement for vapid posers. Oh, the shame of it all . . .

  2. They should have bought a VW if they wanted FWD.

  3. Except the BMW MINI of course!

  4. Chains, really. No one uses chains in Canada. Here they are not permitted to be used at speeds over 30 kmph. I understand your logic with a RWD vehicle placing the chains on the rear tyres, but how about steering. You already have enough oversteer with RWD, now throw in slippery conditions and look out! How about braking? Most braking force is generated from the front breaks. Seems to me this person has got it right. What's the point of traction if you can't control it? Why not chain all four or purchase snow tires? RWD is no fun at all in the snow. AWD or FWD cars are much easier to handle in ice and snow.

  5. The real question is why you would need chains for such a small amount of snow. Every year it's the same thing: "5 cm of snow fell on England last week. The airports are still closed, the roads are still impassable, and 50 people died." IT'S NOT THAT MUCH SNOW. QUIT BEING PU**IES ABOUT IT AND BUY A SNOW PLOUGH ALREADY!

  6. Joe does have a point about 'brakes' you do need to have something to grip on the front. Personally I think having RWD is a lot of fun in the snow, I myself own a 4WD which is normally in 2WD on the rear, and think it is a lot of fun to have the backend step out as long as you know how to handle it.
    Until the last couple of years the UK has had little snow and it becomes very expensive to have snow tyres, so this guy should have at least put the chains on the drive wheels (rear in this case) if he did not want to fork out for two sets.

  7. Joe brings out the true ignorance of John Voelcker. Makes me think you are the biggest moron on the face of the earth.
    John there's a reason you don't own a BMW.

  8. That's not true at all. RWD is all kinds of fun in the snow. Knowing how to drive, and snow tires make it fun.

  9. Except it WOULD drive better with them on the front. Not better thna on the back...but yes, the driver would notice more traction even with them on the front wheels. So your snarky final comment makes YOU look ignorant about cars in general.

  10. This really is one of the dumber articles I have ever read. I am surprised by how ignorant it is. And I don't expect ANYTHING from blogs, so that says a lot.
    Newsflash for you, John Voelcker...Chains are not used just to get people out after getting stuck in snow or ice.. They are used for PREVENTION. The prevent the vehicle from getting stuck in the first place. So while it is true that chains on the front would do no good if the back tires are spinning freely on a stuck car, it is just plain ignorant to say that it doesn't help. With the car moving down the road, the front tires are moving just as fast as the back tires...and supporting more weight. Therefore the chains are coming in contact with the raod surface just as much as they would in the back. Therefore, they provide JUST AS MUCH (if not more due to the exra weigh up front) extra traction.
    The worst part is, since this IS a blog, John Voelcker, will never have the integrity to come back and admit his ignorance. Even though he combined his ignorance (which is acceptable) with stupidity (which is not) when he made himself look stupid by trying to make this driver look stupid.
    So, John Voelcker...WILL you admit you were wrong? Will you try to salvage somee integrity? Or will you just ignore it and hope to slink back into obscurity like all blog writers?

  11. Canada is LAUGHING at your small amount of snow

  12. Did the photographer take this while driving? As I don't think anyone should do that let alone in these conditions, just seems idiotic. Just a thought.

  13. Daders Biotch - We are laughing at Canada...
    ... just in general

  14. Driving lesson for JFKan87,
    Step one start your engine. Step two engage gear. Step three let the cluch out. Step four...... No step 4 the wheels are spinning... Uh maybe the brakes will work? How can I test them the car's not moving; And even if it was the LAST thing to do is to use your brakes you numpty!

  15. I have to agree that the brand attracts possers who want to show off that they can afford the vehicle. Here in Minnesota you see tons of new beemers being driven by middle aged yuppi women but only in the spring and summer, unless you want to count the X line... Bleegh! I wish it was legal to put chains on your tires that way I could drive my 530i year round; even with traction control and "snow" tires I've had a few scares and hills that were a pain to get over.

  16. No it's the PICTURE that's backward. See how the other cars are facing the other way on the street?
    It's an optical illusion.

  17. Joe, where do I start, first off almost everything you said is wrong. At first I thought this was pure satire. Then I read it again and realized it wasn't, but it's OK you appear to be Canadian. So I'll speak slowly and tell you what you got wrong. Steering with chains on the front wheels will greatly increase the amount of oversteer in a vehicle. Oversteer is when the driver loses control of the rear tires first Joe. If you put chains on the front tires you will have much more traction on those tires than the rear tires. So when you corner your back end will slid into the curb or other cars. You did get something right with the front tires handling more braking force, but the difference in braking force between the front and rear increases with increasing total braking force. Meaning the harder you brake the bigger the difference between the front and rear. Now on snowy roads you can't brake very hard so there will be little difference between the front and rear. Sane people with even a little knowledge of vehicle dynamics will take the small sacrifice in braking performance to prevent making an extremely oversteer vehicle.
    Not all BMW owners are yuppi airheads.

  18. Well said AJ - seems some of the others haven't got a clue. Remember snow chains are a 'get you home' if you drove with them regularly you'd have 4.

  19. For those making dodgy comments - the Motoring organisations recommend:
    One pair or two?
    The minimum is one pair on the driven wheels but two pairs are better, particularly if you're spending a lot of time driving in conditions where chains are required.
    As a general guide;
    * A front wheel drive car with chains only on the front wheels will have a tendency to oversteer.
    * A rear wheel drive car with chains only on the rear will tend to understeer.
    * A four wheel drive vehicle should have chains fitted to all four wheels.
    Refer to the handbook for vehicle specific advice.

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