Q My question deals with snow chains, M+S or mud and snow tires, four-wheel drives and chain requirements. I have heard so many different stories about this issue that I am totally confused.
Below is what I have heard, and I was wondering if you could help me through the maze and get to the right answers.
A That is why I am here. Fire away.
Q Two-wheel drive vehicles must put chains on the driven wheels when chains are required.
Q Four-wheel drive vehicles with M+S tires do not need chains when chains are required.
Q Four-wheel drives must use chains when chains are required and they must be installed on the rear wheels.
Q Four-wheel drives must use chains when chains are required and they must be installed on all four wheels.
Go to dot.ca.gov/dist3/departments/mtce/controlmp.htm for chain rules. There are three requirements and they are:
Q I hear that chains should be put on one's front tires. ... My neighbor tells me chains should only go on one's rear tires. ... My mechanic says front tires.
D. Boyce and many more
A Install chains on one set of the drive tires if you have a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle. This can be either the two front tires or the two rear tires. Caltrans says rear tires are preferred, unless the vehicle manufacturer recommends they be put on the front tires. You can install chains on all four.
Q Every year when it snows Caltrans often puts chain controls on Interstate 80. I notice that more often than not, they require chains when there is no snow anywhere on any section of road. Bare pavement is visible the entire time.
Drivers are forced to drive with chains on bare pavement, which is abusive to cars and chews holes in the road. As I write this, chain controls are in effect on the Caltrans website, yet their own cameras at Colfax, Kingvale, Truckee and Floriston show completely bare roads with only RAIN on them.
What's even worse is that the whole highway is slowed to a crawl for miles because of the screening process. Is this really necessary or is it just some outdated practice invented in the 1950s before modern tires were invented?
A This is a pretty common question. Chain controls are set by Caltrans' Donner Pass superintendent, who makes the call based on conditions from his perch.
"Since our checkpoints and 'chain on' areas are pretty spread out, we may have some bare patches in between," says Mark-the-Caltrans-Spokesman. "Drivers should drive the limit (30 mph) and heed the control because snow and ice could be just around the bend or on the other side of the grade.
"Adding to the problem are conditions that can change in a moment's notice. We always err on the side of caution and try to make the safest call of the moment."