Tire Chains in California

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by PriusC_Commuter, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. PriusC_Commuter

    PriusC_Commuter Active Member

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    I'm thinking about heading up to Big Bear in Southern California. I'm trying to figure out which snow tire chains to buy for either my Prius Plug-in or Prius C both with Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus (I'll likely take the PiP since it has heated seats and regen will be better coming down the mountain with the larger battery). What do people use for snow chains? I was reading that the manual says not to use cable chains, but I'm not sure which would be a recommended tire chain to buy.
     
  2. scona

    scona Active Member

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    I wonder if you require tire chains to get to the destination if there is not too much snow to be driving there in a prius c.
     
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  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    If you have snow tires does that negate the need for chains? Or are chains still mandatory sometimes? Always wondered about that.
     
  4. PriusC_Commuter

    PriusC_Commuter Active Member

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    CalTrans has three levels of chain requirements in California:
    • Requirement 1 (R-1): Chains are required on all vehicles except passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks under 6,000 pounds gross weight and equipped with snow tires1 on at least two drive wheels. Chains must be carried by vehicles using snow tires. All vehicles towing trailers must have chains on one drive axle. Trailers with brakes must have chains on at least one axle.
    • Requirement 2 (R2): Chains or traction devices2 are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels.
      NOTE: (Four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
    • Requirement 3 (R3): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.
    Source: Chain Controls / Chain Installation | Caltrans
     
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  5. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Is a Prius c necessarily worse than other FWDs? At least on groomed highways (high clearance not needed), drivers and tires are generally bigger issues than particular car models.

    My experience has been that chain checkpoints are placed along the highways going up the mountain or over the passes needed to get to a destination, not on city streets at the destination. When the destination is lower than the pass in question, conditions there are generally better than at the pass or checkpointed section. (Except for places lacking sufficient snowplows, e.g. Seattle. I've never been to Big Bear -- isn't it in snow country, thus better prepared?)

    When any significant fraction of ordinary chained-up 2WDs can no longer negotiate the road, then the DOT or police close it. Because when they don't, or are late in addressing it, then the bottom 1% or less of vehicles with the least-skilled winter drivers and/or worst tires (or skipping chains) will automatically close it for them. Here on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass, that means "road closed due to spin-outs and collisions". It takes a few hours to get them all straightened out or removed before the road is clear enough to safely reopen. Then lather-rinse-repeat, sometimes several cycles in a single day.

    Generally, the farther south this is an issue, the lower the skill levels / tire conditions of those causing the problems, so the quicker the authorities impose chain restrictions or close the road.

    I don't really think that the Prius c is going to be the problem.
     
  6. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I moved away a while ago, but it used to be that in California the CHPs would start chain enforcement about 10 minutes before they closed the road. Nearly nobody could get their chains on in that 10 minute window, so in effect they were just closing the roads. They didn't want to get yelled at for not allowing motorists with chains to proceed, but at the same time they knew they'd just be hauling fools out of ditches later.
     
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