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2-4 inch of snow, are chains needed?

mattack4000

Active Member
Oct 1, 2017
2,449
1,071
CA
I am looking to get up to Donner Pass this Saturday, which is calling for snow showers and 2-4" of snow. Does anyone know if they will require chains or snow tires for that? I have no problem driving in the snow with AWD and all season, but I don't want to get turned around because I don't have chains
 
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miimura

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2013
6,717
6,563
Los Altos, CA
If there are chain controls you will be turned around if you don't have chains and your tires don't have the M+S designation. Even better would be tires that have the mountain and snowflake symbol.

Caltrans - Chain Controls
What is the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol?

Why not just call the Rocklin service center and see if they can hold a set of chains for you to pick up on your way up?
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,476
14,491
West Vancouver, British Columbia
If there are chain controls you will be turned around if you don't have chains and your tires don't have the M+S designation. Even better would be tires that have the mountain and snowflake symbol.
What is the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol?
Thanks for that link, I didn’t know about that type of tire.

I wonder how much additional energy usage an X would incur running 3PMSF tires compared to the stock tires? It’s probably been discussed on TMC before, I’ll do a search.

Tesla sells these tires for winter use on the X and they have the 3PMSF rating https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tire...=265/45-20F+275/45-20R&cameFrom=WinterSection
 

cwied

Member
Jan 13, 2015
887
643
San Mateo, CA
If you have M+S tires and AWD, the only time you need chains is in R3 conditions. However, they shut down I-80 if there are R3 conditions, so you'd only need chains if you're going to drive on back roads that require them. The bottom line is you don't need to worry about getting turned around on I-80 for lack of chains. You may get turned around because the highway closes, though, although that would be unlikely with only 2-4 inches of snow.
 
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cwied

Member
Jan 13, 2015
887
643
San Mateo, CA
They're pretty conservative. I'm not sure I know the exact numbers, but I think chains will probably be required at least part of Saturday (R2 conditions). I think the best place to get up-to-date information is the CHP-Truckee Facebook page. You can get an idea of what's been happening over the past week by reading the past posts.
 

Need

Active Member
Nov 22, 2017
3,044
2,352
Rancho Cucamonga
I bought chain for my MX last time I went up to the mountain. Turns out it did snow but nobody stopped anyone to put on chain. Although many many cars had to stop at the side to put them on as the they were sliding left and right. One truck could not make it up a 30 degree slope to get out of the parking lot. My MX drives like it is normal road with all season tires. I only had one close call as I was driving pretty fast on a local street going downhill and there was a stop sign. I can feel the traction control was working really hard to make the stop but it did stop in time.
 

abasile

TSLA shareholder
Supporting Member
Oct 21, 2012
1,666
3,658
San Bernardino Mountains, California
In California, if you have AWD and M+S tires, you'll only be required to install chains in R-3 conditions, but you'd generally want to avoid being on the road anyway if the conditions are bad enough for the authorities to designate R-3. However, during the winter season in the mountains, you are required by law to at least have a set of chains available in your vehicle. My advice would be to buy yourself a set of chains, keep them in your vehicle and know how to install them, and if you have AWD, hope that you never have to use them.
 

ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
7,352
14,355
California
Per the letter of the law, if you’re in a chain control zone you must HAVE CHAINS in your possession, even if you never have to put them on.

That said, if you have AWD and mud/snow tires (basically any all season tire meets this criteria these days) you’ll have no issues and certainly won’t be turned around for a couple inches of snow.

R3 conditions basically don’t exist in California any more. They just close the road.
 

FlyF4

Son of a MX
Mar 21, 2017
849
673
moved to San Diego
Per the letter of the law, if you’re in a chain control zone you must HAVE CHAINS in your possession, even if you never have to put them on.

That said, if you have AWD and mud/snow tires (basically any all season tire meets this criteria these days) you’ll have no issues and certainly won’t be turned around for a couple inches of snow.

R3 conditions basically don’t exist in California any more. They just close the road.
That's the best answer I've seen. I do have chains for my X just in case. Factory all season tires on the car. This winter, I went over the pass 4 times in snow and each time they just waved me through, even when they were stopping some 2 wheel cars to make them pt on chains. Once, there was a LOT of snow on the ground. I don't think it is so much about a threshold of snow. It's also how icy are the conditions.
 

abasile

TSLA shareholder
Supporting Member
Oct 21, 2012
1,666
3,658
San Bernardino Mountains, California
R3 conditions basically don’t exist in California any more. They just close the road.
Where I live, we still have R-3 conditions occasionally. Usually they downgrade to R-2 after the plows have had time to catch up. When driving an AWD vehicle, I've been asked many times at checkpoints whether or not I have chains in the car.
 

abasile

TSLA shareholder
Supporting Member
Oct 21, 2012
1,666
3,658
San Bernardino Mountains, California
Anyone that needs to ask this should have snow and ice tires and a speed limiter.

My neighbors, on the other hand, haven’t seen the road surface in front of our homes since December. They would be safer than you if they just had summer slicks on since they drive on snow roads daily and don’t need to ask questions like this.
I don't think you understand the way the law works in California. No matter how experienced a driver may be in snow, CalTrans and possibly the CHP will stop them at checkpoints to verify that they possess snow chains, and if that driver has a 2WD vehicle, they'll generally be compelled to install chains. Because of all of the people who are clueless about snow driving, the authorities tend to be ultra conservative, meaning they'll usually require chains when a decent snow driver wouldn't need them. While I find this to be a real pain at times (I have decades of snow experience), I understand the need to protect the general California public.

We are waiting on a Model 3 with AWD precisely so that we won't have to needlessly fuss around with chains to appease the authorities.
 
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FlyF4

Son of a MX
Mar 21, 2017
849
673
moved to San Diego
I don't think you understand the way the law works in California. No matter how experienced a driver may be in snow, CalTrans and possibly the CHP will stop them at checkpoints to verify that they possess snow chains, and if that driver has a 2WD vehicle, they'll generally be compelled to install chains. Because of all of the people who are clueless about snow driving, the authorities tend to be ultra conservative, meaning they'll usually require chains when a decent snow driver wouldn't need them. While I find this to be a real pain at times (I have decades of snow experience), I understand the need to protect the general California public.

We are waiting on a Model 3 with AWD precisely so that we won't have to needlessly fuss around with chains to appease the authorities.
Yes agree. And as a side note, probably not true with every checkpoint person, one of my friends whom has that cold nasty job for the last 5 years, says if he sees Nevada plates, he sometimes doesn't ask quite as many questions. Florida plates and he gets worried. You know what he is thinking there. Of course it doesn't mean these people drive any better or worse in snow. He says it could be a rental car. , but he does look at the plates for a lot of reasons.
 

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