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Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

San Francisco...
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Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

First time driving to Lake Tahoe in the winter. We are driving next Wednesday (12/26). Where can I look up information on "chain requirements" ? We will be driving an All Wheel Drive Subaru Forester, is there anyway to verify whether chains are required or not?

I appreciate your sharing your experience/tip/warnings etc. We have never done this drive in the snow before... would like to minimize risk of getting caught unprepared.

Thanks in advance!

San Francisco
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1. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

Just my first person story. We were driving up once in a Land Rover. It was snowing and although there wasn't much on the road, regular cars were being pulled over for chain controls. We were not.

Washington State
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2. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

Here is the CalTrans chain control page with a link to check for current conditions on the highways you'll be using: …ca.gov/dist3/departments/mtce/controlmp.htm In winter, we carry chains in our AWD and 4WD vehicles along other winter emergency gear (kitty litter type sand, shovel, old-style flares {or the new LED ones}, warm coat, blanket, water, food.)

Long Barn...
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3. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

Your Forester is a great snow conditions vehicle. The other part of the 4 wheel drive exemption is that you have to have mud or snow tires. Look on the sidewall for the M + S type of tire.

Be sure you slow down. Many people drive way too fast. A few days ago I was driving on Hwy 88 below the chain control area and hit a patch of black ice (I never saw it). My back end spun out, but I was easily able to regain control.

Fortaleza, CE
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4. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

#1 refers to a Land Rover, presumably 4WD. Note the Caltrans regs in #2 show categories where some vehicles need chains but AWD won't, IF you have snow tires. You don't know what conditions will exist. I think you should have chains with you.

California
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5. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

I recently installed tires on my 4 WD vehicle and specified to the tire place that I needed mud and snow rated tires and the guy said you'd have to buy a really cheap set of tires as most tires are now rated for mud and snow. Interesting.

AWD & cars in the 4WD mode are good at getting traction in the snow which is what the chains do for regular cars. Braking, however, is a challenge no matter what you have so watch your speed and distance between cars and to a stop sign or traffic light. Allow lots of time.

Long Barn...
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6. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

Suzie- you are correct about all the M + S tires. I have a vehicle that I drive less than 3,000 miles/year and really never drives over 50 mph. I asked for cheap tires and was surprised to see they are M + S rated. I also bought some low profile performance tires for my sports car that are rated to roll in one direction (got to watch rotation) and they were also M + S rated.

They now make low resistance rolling tires that are suppose to increase gas mileage and I assume these would not be good for snow traction.

Sorry, as I guess we are getting off topic......

Camp Sherman, Oregon
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7. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

Mud and snow tires are not snow tires. They are all season tires. Just put "real" snow tires on Rav4 before we went across passes up here. They can substitute for studded tires. As in conditions "chains required except for vehicles with traction devices". In worst conditions chains could be required with snow and studded tires

California
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8. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

People who have limited skill driving in the snow should never attempt to drive in conditions that would require the use of chains on a 4 WD, Just my 2 cents.

Studded tires are great but mostly used by those who live with the conditions day in and day out not people who are on a short trip to the area. Mud & Snow are fine with 4 WD for visiting a snow prone area.

Long Barn...
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9. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

Jes- I think the definition of snow tires are different in your state (Oregon) than California.

R2 is the common chain controls we run into here in California---- and I believe this is what the original poster was asking.

~~~~~~~

From Cal-Trans on chain controls-

" (R2): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels.

The California vehicle code section 558 defines a snow-tread tire as follows, " A 'Snow-tread tire' is a tire which has a relatively deep and aggressive tread pattern compared with conventional passenger tread pattern". Snow-tread tires can be identified by examining the sidewall of the tire where the letters MS, M/S, M+S or the words MUD AND SNOW have been stamped into the sidewall."

Camp Sherman, Oregon
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10. Re: Are Chains Required for All Wheel Drive vehicles (Forester)?

Gotcha. My wrong! Just looked at my new tires. M+S on sides. Not cheap though. Michelin latitude ice. Amazing in eight inches snow. Thanks for the correction, always appreciated.