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Snow tires? Snow chains??

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posts: 5
reviews: 2
Snow tires? Snow chains??

Hello everyone, we are getting closer to our trip to Grand Lake, we are driving from Houston, Texas. We have had some people tell us we need snow chains or tires but we have others telling us they are not necessary. Does anyone out there have any advise on what we should do? We have a dodge caravan 2WD with all season tires...


posts: 1
reviews: 1
1. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

Buy the chains to be on the safe side. Take it from someone stranded for two days on a frozen iced over hill in Arkansas! I am from Houston and have now driven NM, CO and lived in Norway for 3 years. You can buy the chains at Walmart on the way up. Get heavy gloves, gojo hand cleaner and coveralls. Also you need to carry a winter emergency bag. Look it up. Good luck and safe travel!!

Edited: 8:33 am, December 14, 2011
2. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

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Aspen, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Aspen
posts: 1,186
3. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

Recently discussed ad nauseum. Differing opinions on the subject.


Edited: 8:47 am, December 14, 2011
Frisco, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Frisco, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge
posts: 5,315
reviews: 18
4. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

Don't open the chains unless you need them - because then you will be able to return them when you don't use them. As a Texan not use to snow, if the weather is so bad you feel you may have to break the seal on the boxes, perhaps you should pull over and wait it out. The roads are excellently maintained here. I live in the mountains, I don't have snow tires, I don't have studded tires, and I don't carry chains. Safe Travels!

Destination Expert
for Colorado
posts: 7,382
reviews: 82
5. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

Is the Caravan front wheel drive or rear wheel drive? IMO rear wheel drive does not handle all that well in snow and ice so I would get the chains. If front wheel drive, you will probably be fine. But, as 1FourFun says, if the roads are that bad, you probably should wait it out. Try to build in just a little flexibility in your travel schedule that you can wait out a storm and let the plows get the roads cleared. Or leave a day early if there's a big storm predicted.

Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Crested Butte, Gunnison
posts: 2,847
reviews: 88
6. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

The "cable" variety of chains come in a container the size of a lunchbox. When needed, they can be installed quickly without having to roll your car back and forth on the side of the road. Hopefully you wont need them but for $50 it might be a good bit of insurance to avoid being stranded somewhere; possibly somewhere remote. My view is that anyone taking a long distance winter road trip should consider tossing them in the trunk and hoping that they never need them. That and taking missp's advice to plan some flexibility into your schedule.

Here's what I use:


People that talks about the "chain link" variety of chains and/or only studded snow tires are likely unfamiliar with the newer varieties of these winter safety items. The "cable" variety of chains take a fraction of the time to put on, work on virtually all passenger vehicles, cinch down tight, and are far more durable than the older variety of chains (used mainly on trucks now). While I've read plenty of forum posts about not needing chains, I personally place the safety of my family above being able to save $50 by getting by without them. If you've never used these devices then you have no idea what you're missing out on. Consumers often spend substantial amounts of money on safety when it comes to purchasing and maintaining a vehicle (SUV's, crash safety ratings...). Paying $50 for the ability to turn your vehicle into a snowcat when you really need it just seems like a no brainer.

Golden, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Denver
posts: 1,183
reviews: 34
7. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

It wouldn't hurt to put the chains in the trunk. Some of the worst icy roads I've ever driven on are in west Texas and OK in the winter, because they don't take care of their roads in the winter like Colorado does. However, I would open them and practice putting them on, so you are not reading the instructions in an awkward situation. When I drove for work for 10 years in WY , SD, and MT, I had chains, but only used them two or three times. But those 2 or 3 times kept me from being stranded in the middle of nowhere. Now, I just strand myself in a hotel if the roads might be that bad (post blizzard stress syndrome, I guess). But if you already are on the road, it could happen that you may need to put the chains on.

And get the cable chains like smushie said. those are great.

Edited: 2:06 pm, December 14, 2011
Golden, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Denver
posts: 1,183
reviews: 34
8. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

Here is a decent list of tips for winter road travel. There are a plethora of others also.


Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Crested Butte, Gunnison
posts: 2,847
reviews: 88
9. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

In the winter I also always carry a sleeping bag, an emergency blanket, spare gloves and an extra warm hat. The snow shovel from my backcountry ski bag also lives in the trunk. In the past decade I've used some of those items for emergencies as infrequently as never (emergency blanket) to a handful of times (sleeping bag) to a few times a year (snow shovel). I agree that the safest thing in bad weather is to stay where you are but, in my own case, when feet of snow have fallen overnight, I'm going to get to the mountain one way or another. I also want to make sure that the drive isn't the most dangerous part of the day. Snow tires and "cable" chains make it possible to get to those rope drops safely.

Fruita, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Fruita, Grand Junction
posts: 3,893
reviews: 156
10. Re: Snow tires? Snow chains??

My DH and I used to push on through terrible road conditions. One trip I recall I'm not sure we were driving on the road or over some farmer's field and when we got home we had to bend the car door to pry it open the ice was so thick. Now like timo2, we strand ourselves in a hotel or stay at home if the roads are so bad. It's not that we don't know how to put chains on or know how to drive on snow/ice. I just don't want to do battle with the semis and others who don't. But the highways are well maintained most of the time so you shouldn't have problems in the mountains. In the panhandle states and eastern CO you might have more problems due to blowing snow, and chains will help there with the ice.

I-70 has lots of places for you to pull over and put chains on but you will be sharing that space with the big semi trucks since the state law requires them to chain up when conditions get bad. Just remember to take them off when the road dries out or your tires will get chewed to pieces.

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