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    Do I need snow chains for Tahoe?

  • Do I need snow chains for Tahoe?

    When a winter's storm is due, and you're a snow bunny, there's no better place to be than Lake Tahoe. There are a few things to know, including some recent changes in the law that you should know before you begin your snowy holiday in California and Nevada.

    1. Snow tires might not cut it on Nevada highways

    This year, the Nevada Department of Transportation has new snow safety regulations for U.S. 50, Nevada Route 431 and Nevada Route 207 (the Kingsbury Grade).

    This is new - when chain requirements are in place, vehicles will either need to have tire chains, or snow tires and be four-wheel or all-wheel drive. Previously, chains or snow tires on all vehicles would suffice. The change is in response to the more than 300 crashes that occurred on these mountain highways in the span of just three winters. Before you head out, visit the tire shop and make sure you're prepared.


    2. California highways may require chains for all-wheel/four-wheel drive vehicles with snow tires

    California highways have three levels of chain requirements. These are the 3 requirements you must adhere to, depending on the severity of the storm..

    1. Chains must be on all vehicles under 6,000 pounds unless they have snow tires.
    2. Chains must be on all vehicles except four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles with snow tires.
    3. Chains on all vehicles — no exceptions.

    Though highways are usually closed before an R-3 condition is imposed, the California Department of Transportation requires all vehicles to carry traction devices in control areas.


    3. Check to see if your tires qualify as snow tires

    If your tire is marked on the sidewall with M+S — mud and snow — this indicates you have an all-season tire. Both California and Nevada consider this an acceptable tire for the snow. Deeper-treaded winter tires are labeled M+S, but also have an icon of a mountain with a snowflake. Summer tires lack the M+S designation.


    4. Make sure you know what tires to put your chains on

    For a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the chains go on the two front tires. For rear-wheel-drive vehicles, the chains must be attached to the back two tires. For four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles, put chains on all four tires.


    5. Check highway conditions via online maps before you go

    Though all vehicles should carry chains when heading into the mountains, it's best not to be caught by surprise when you enter a chain control area. If you're driving in California, check http://www.quickmap.dot.ca.gov. For Nevada, visit http://www.nvroads.com.

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    Are you struggling to put snow chains on your tires?

    Some motorists may not be familiar with them, but tire chains for snowy, icy, or steep roads are common in many mountainous areas, and sometimes obligatory.

    Even drivers familiar with snowy or icy conditions sometimes use chains to maintain safe control on mountain roads: it may be the only way to keep yourself moving.


    Putting snow chains on your vehicle is not the easiest thing to do, but once you've done it for the first time, the mystery will be gone & you'll be able to bore everybody down the pub with your new-found skill.


    Your Sacramento Auto Parts store has chains that will fit your tires.


    The chain packaging will state which tires it fits, and don't be afraid to ask for advice in the shop. Never attempt to use chains that are too large or too small, as this could result in dangerous driving and damage to your car.

    • Install your chains & test them on a snowy or slippery road before you really need them.

    Pick an open stretch of road, or an empty car park. Take the chains out, and untangle them so that they are hanging free, in a "web" shape.


    Place the separated chains by the tires: for a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the chains should go on the front two tires, and for rear-wheel-drive vehicles, on the rear two wheels.


    If you don't know if your car is front or rear-wheel drive, look & see which wheels are spinning when your vehicle is stuck in the mud or snow (although it may already be too late for your new chains!)

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    Do chains ruin your tires?

    Losing traction in the snow is no one’s idea of a good time. Even in areas not known for abysmal snowstorms, winter can create icy and hazardous road conditions that drivers must be prepared to deal with. Adding snow chains can be a solution for someone who doesn't spend enough time in the snow to justify snow tires. Chains for cars will get you where you need to go when the roads are not your friend — but they can also be a pain.

    Knowing when to employ chains and when to take them off

    can help you get out of a slippery situation, but you have to know what you’re doing first.