Or more of when do I need chains. I live in the bay area so I don't own snow tires. I own a 4x4 v6 rav4. I was wondering at what snow fall rate would they require chains going up either 50 or 80.
Do you need chains in Reno/Tahoe with 4WD?
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It depends on what you mean by "need".
If you mean what do you need to drive past the CalTrans checkpoint on the way up to the hill, 4WD will be enough (by the time they are instituting level 3 - chains required on all vehicles - they will be closing the road). But you are supposed to carry chains even with 4WD so you should have them in the car.
If you are talking about what you need to drive safely in the mountains, hard to say. It depends on the conditions, your driving ability, and where exactly you are going. My own take is that I'd much rather be in a Front Wheel Drive vehicle with real snowtires than a 4WD with crappy useless "all season" tires, but almost nobody driving 4WD bothers to get real snowtires. But I digress. Most of the time it'll be fine, but Tahoe can get ridiculous amounts of snow, so you may be stuck no matter what your vehicular situation..
If I were you, I'd buy a set of chains - at you leisure when you can get them for cheap - learn how to put them on and keep them in the car in case you really need them. If you make the drive regularly, buy real snowtires not the useless crappy all season tires that came with your SUV. If you only go every once in a while, check the weather and make sure the window is clear to get there and back.