View Poll Results: What traction do you prefer?
Wouldn't be caught in the snow without 4wd. 7 23.33%
Chains don't bother me, I have 2wd and chains 7 23.33%
I have never used chains on any car in the snow. 12 40.00%
I have 4wd, but put chains on all wheels and all the way around the body of the car. 1 3.33%
4wd drive means I can do 70 in the snow without crashing. 1 3.33%
I have studded tires, yer all insane! 2 6.67%
Voters: 30. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-25-2005, 12:53 PM   #1
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Renees post about snow chains in another thread prompted me to post this..

(And Renee, I am an old pro at snow chains.. I actually use them HERE more than I did in Oregon!)

Anyway, I personally won't tow in anything more than a laughable dusting of strickly powder, (I had to my FIRST outing, talk about trial by fire!) Anything more, I pull over and turn the heater on in the trailer. I will always check normal "snow" areas before I even turn the key, so hopefully, with a little preplanning and good luck, I will not find myself in a blizzard while running.

Why do I carry chains when I live in an area where most folks chose 4wd? Well, there are lots of reasons from justifying the added costs of a 4wd vehicle (Buy cost, insurance, maintenance, gas) I figered out the cost of all of this on a awd Element vs. the time it took to put on my chains 4 or 5 times a year, and I figured I was throwing about 300 bucks an hour out the window for the luxury of NOT chaining up.

I know how the use chains correctly and know HOW to drive in the snow. It's simple.. the #1 rule in anything you drive is SLOW DOWN. You have no idea how many invincible 4wd rigs I see up here each year that have gone sideways in the ice (4wd seems useless in ice) or in ditches because folks don't bother to learn HOW to respect the snow and drive properly in it, in any car. They somehow think 4wd means they are immune from the forces of nature and can go faster than you would if you were chained up. I rarely EVER see a properly chained 2wd in trouble. And when I do, they are usually older rear wheel drives.

I personally feel that a chained up front wheel drive car is safer in the ice than a 4wd unchained, but thats just my preference after driving unchained 4wds in the snow AND ice.

Chaining up used to be a pain, but I have these:

Diamond Tire Chains and a FWD car.

These are real link chains, not cable chains. They go on in less than 5 minutes, and thats BOTH wheels. No driving onto them, and getting them off only requires a drive of 2 feet after they are unhooked. No turning wheels, Wrestling with tensioners, and no getting your arms filthy from lying down and hugging your slush covered wheels. Click, slip snap. Almost as fast as Spyder Spikes, but you don't have to put up with that ugly hub that goes with the spikes. (I will admit that I am extremely jealous of the Spyder Spike folks when I watch them snap thiers on in less time than it would for them to put on thier coats!)

I am not eggs agerating, they go on that fast! I once took evil joy in turning down one of the guys that offer to chain you up for 25 bucks here. They hover at the pull out where you have to stop and chain up. Anyway, he asked if I wanted him to do it, I told him "No, this only takes a couple minutes" He responded with "Oh, you think so, do you?" and gave a little snicker. He had no prospects, so he sat there and watched me do it THAT fast. His snickers turned to interest and he asked me about them. These are not common in California, I bought mine in Oregon, I am not sure they even sell them down here, so he had never seen them.
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:01 PM   #2
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Those of us who live in snow country (Minnesota) snicker at the thought of using tire chains!

As far as I can tell, the only thing that tire chains really accomplish is to force you to slow down, due to all of the bouncing and the prospect of the chains becoming loose and damaging your car!

-- Dan Meyer
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:02 PM   #3
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I am far from "a perfect driver", under any circumstances, but that's my choice for the first question. I do not use chains, but I do use snow tires on all four positions of my van in winter, and would do so if I were to tow in snow. I think it's interesting that studded tires (which are illegal for use on public roads in most provinces) are recognized in the options for the second question, but there is no mention of snow tires. The combinations are many, and it's not possible to cover all of them, but snow tires are much more commonly used than chains in any area where I have lived (all of which get real winter).

I have not towed in winter, and don't plan to tow in snow routinely, but may do so occasionally.

Gina, am I understanding your description correctly: you use chains only on the front (driven) tires? Since most accidents occur due to a loss of control or insufficient ability to brake, rather than a loss of ability to drive forward, snow tires are always specified for all four tires, especially of a front-wheel-drive car. Wouldn't the same logic apply to chains, or are they not effective for braking and cornering traction - if not, why would they be an option on the trailer? Or to look at it another way, aren't the non-driven tires on the trailer in the same situation as the non-driven tires on the back of the FWD tow vehicle, or the front of the RWD tow vehicle?

I have never used chains, on any vehicle. I currently have only one rear-wheel-drive vehicle, and it is a British convertible not driven in snow or on ice. The front-wheel-drive cars and van are driven in winter on four snow & ice tires. I'm not saying that's the only way to go - that's just my situation.
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:04 PM   #4
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Gina,

What an odd set of circumstances!!! An Oregonian actually wanting to live in California!! Usually it's the other way around. We now have (particularly since 1992) enough Cali transplants living here to probably justify renaming Oregon to "Northern California"!!

Ron N
Tigard, Oregon
(that's Orygun, not Orygone)
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:13 PM   #5
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Brian, you put the chains on the drive wheels for forward traction, yes. Ice is a different situation.. Ice also involves sideways motion. You can loose control of the non drive wheels easily in a turn in a bad ice situation, so the chains on the non drive wheels help give a little bite IF they are the right pattern.

I would suspect this would apply to the trailer too. I have seen a few chained up trailers and always thought that was what it was for.

I drive on snow tires too. In a lot of states, that makes no difference, they make you chain up anyway if you don't specifically have 4WD AND snow tires.

To be honest, They make you chain up here sometimes under some pretty rediculous conditions. Like. Wet pavement (Really!) So you have no choice.

Same thing on many of the Oregon passes, and they also make 4wds chain up if it is particularly bad.
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
An Oregonian actually wanting to live in California!!
Ah, I never siad I WANTED to live here, but life has funny twists and sometimes there is no choice. I would be back home in 2 flat seconds if I could.

BUT, It is ironic that I live in an area here that has more severe season changes and dangerous weather than home does Go Figure. But thats why I picked this place.
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:33 PM   #7
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After I posted my comments, I found a "Anything I need to know about using chains" section in the FAQ? of the Diamond Tire Chains site. It has a summary of California state requirements.

Quote:
Brian, you put the chains on the drive wheels for forward traction, yes. Ice is a different situation.. Ice also involves sideways motion. You can loose control of the non drive wheels easily in a turn in a bad ice situation, so the chains on the non drive wheels help give a little bite IF they are the right pattern...
I think lateral traction is important in snow, too, but anyway we agree that all tires are important. I had not heard how well they work laterally - I'll have to ask about patterns if I ever find I need to start using chains. The California rules only require them on drive axles and brake-equipped trailer axles - they emphasize the importance of chains to braking, but not lateral control.

Quote:
... I would suspect this would apply to the trailer too. I have seen a few chained up trailers and always thought that was what it was for.
I didn't know if anyone used them on tag (regular) trailers, although I have seen them on semi-trailers. If I ever put chains on the tow vehicle, I think that I would do all of the axles.

Quote:
... I drive on snow tires too. In a lot of states, that makes no difference, they make you chain up anyway if you don't specifically have 4WD AND snow tires.
I can believe that. In BC and Alberta, I think the chain-up requirement has been replaced by chains or good snow tires; four wheel drive is not considered an alternative, which I agree with if the concern is braking or control; if the only concern is drive traction, 4WD + snow tires should be considered adequate.

Quote:
... To be honest, They make you chain up here sometimes under some pretty rediculous conditions. Like. Wet pavement (Really!) So you have no choice.
I have driven through the Rocky Mountains between Alberta and BC a few times in the winter, but have never encountered an active chain-up requirement. I agree that chains on wet pavement is ridiculous - I would be inclined to ignore it in the interest of safety and sanity.
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:39 PM   #8
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You can't ignore it here. They set up road blocks and won't let you thru. Thats not to say they can't come off once you have progessed past the check point, but there is a liability issue if you remove them. I usually go a couple miles and know what is ahead, but I will take them off if I know there is dry road where I am going.

It's still illegal.
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:51 PM   #9
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Here in Montana, studded snow tires are still legal, which is wonderful on ice. I have a 4WD and still need chains on the back mountain roads where I live because of the steep terrain and ice on the roads that usually lasts from November to April. I have towed in blizzards (not by choice). The 4WD tows fine on the highways in snow as long as you go slow. I've never used chains on the trailer.

Laura
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Old 11-25-2005, 03:27 PM   #10
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I learned how to drive in snow back in Upstate New York before I was 20 (about a millenia ago). After almost a lifetime spent in Southern California (North Tijuana, south of "So Cal," aka LA), I fear that unlike riding a bicycle, I may have forgotten how to deal with it.
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Old 11-25-2005, 06:11 PM   #11
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Here in Oregon the mountain pass at times require chains. I can only think of once or twice where they made 4 wheel drives with snow tires put on chains. Studded tires are acceptable.
Now when towing, if chains are required then even 4 wheel drives must use chains. The law also states that if chains are required for the tow vehicle then chains are required for the towed vehicle.

As Gina said, at time they'll have the chains required when the pavement is just wet. After destroying a couple sets of chains I went with studded tires for several years. Now that I have a 4 wheel drive with Mud and Snow rated tires I'm ok, but supposed to be in 4 wheel drive. Since it's a true 4 wheel drive not a AWD I choose when it's in 4 wheel.

The good side is that the number of times has greatly decreased where chains are required. I usually has to get pretty bad first. I've seen more and more in the past few years where that even on packed snow they don't require chains.

I plan on hauling my soon to arrive Scamp up into the pass areas in the winter. But I think I'll watch the weather forcast pretty close before I head out. I'd just as soon avoid putting chains on anything.
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Old 11-25-2005, 06:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Gina,

We now have (particularly since 1992) enough Cali transplants living here to probably justify renaming Oregon to "Northern California"!!

Ron N
Tigard, Oregon
(that's Orygun, not Orygone)
How 'bout Alta California... or perhaps Baja Oregon?

Ah... chains... yes, I have some around here... somewhere... can't remember when... no, wait... I think the last time I chained up was to go over the summit on the Grapevine! Wow... and that had to be in the early '80s! I've always been amazed that I can drive all over the country with snow tires, but California wanted me to chain up to over the silly pass, snow tires or not. I guessed it had to do with the lack of skill in snow driving of the majority of drivers headed over the passes... that's when I bought my first 4WD Jeep with M+S tires and never chained up again!

And, BTW, if the weather is SO bad that you think you need to chain up all of the axles (ESPECIALLY the trailer), you probably don't need to be going anyway. That's the time to hole up someplace and wait for the weather to clear and wait for the crews to clear the roads. I gotta tell ya that there is NOTHING so important as to endanger yourself unnecessarily to get there fast. Frankly, I've found that the going is so slow anyway in conditions like that, you'll likely get there just as fast if you wait for the storm to pass and the roads to be plowed.

Roger
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Old 11-25-2005, 08:32 PM   #13
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That reminds me, I need to install that liquor cabinet so I can get plowed while waiting for the plow.

OK, which one of you smarty pants thinks you can do 70 in the snow? I will be avoiding your state in the winter. :

There is only ONE person that tows that can do that and get away with it....


:h84:
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Old 11-25-2005, 08:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
over the silly pass
The problem with the grapevine is it seems to be a never ending grade on the south side, and a straight up shot on the north. I avoid it at all costs in any conditions. The Cascade passes are a minor annoyance compared to the grapevine. I have not driven the rockies, so I can't compare, but by far, the worst pass I have driven on is... The Grapevine.

I usually go over the Tehachipis when I travel north. There is a steep grade, but it isn't very long on the south side, and the north side is about what Grants pass is like (Only drier :l31: )

The biggest problem with Tehachipi is that when you finally get over it, your reward is... Bakersfield :22:
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