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Driving in Tahoe

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Was wondering if anyone here is familar with and can give a review of Spikes-Spiders in lieu of chains. I have a daughter who moved out to the north end of Tahoe for college and only has a HOnda Civic front wheel drive car. I am trying to decide if we should get her snow tires, chains or these Spikes Spiders. She currently has an all weather tire. I just heard about these Spiders and am not familar with them. These Spiders seem to be more expensive but much easier to use. Thanks for the help!
post #2 of 32
There are many other threads on general winter driving. But here are some thoughts that some recent posts generated.
  • I was driving around yesterday. My estimate is that around half of the vehicles are 2wd.
  • On the weekend, when the flatlanders showup, the proportion of 4wd vehicles goes up significantly.
  • My guess is that the vast majority of flatlanders drive 4x4/awds while locals don't really care either way.
  • Many/most locals run snow tires (although that's a guess)
  • A CHP friend of mine has three vehicles, two of which are 2wd and one of those is used by his daughter
  • Another CHP friend has his wife driving a 2wd vehicle (he and his son drive big 4x4 pickups for their second job - construction)
  • And one of his retired CHP buddies still drives a Crown Victoria
  • Active CHP officers still use 2wd Crown Vics, as well as Expeditions, up here
  • Normal chain control requires chains or snows
  • I don't know anyone up here who has these "Spikes-Spiders". Hell we avoid chaining up too.
So some personal conclusions ...
  • The driver, not the vehicle, is the primary issue
  • Front wheel drive works well when driven properly - conversely my old 70's era yank-tank rear-wheel drive was a pain
  • Snows are the best option (we had icy roads today that wouldn't dictate the use of chains)
  • Spikes-Spiders seem to be an expensive way to go for chains
  • Chains work just fine and there are chains that are easy to put on/take-off
  • I haven't had any chains for the last 5, or so, years and haven't missed them
Hope this helps.
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info Truckeelocal,
I have another question though. I was told that it was mandatory for 2WD cars to have chains not snow tires at times to access the Mt. Rose pass and the other pass (name slips my mind at the moment) that takes you from incline village to Northstar. Is this true? Also, I think I can get the Spiders for about $150 from someone who has a pair that they had used about 5 times then moved away. The spiders seem to be much easier to put on and off hence the reason I was thinking of those over chains.
Thanks!
post #4 of 32
Technically, i.e. to meet the letter of the law, ALL VEHICLES not just 2wds must be carrying chains when entering a chain control area. The other pass is Brockway on 267. The Mount Rose pass is much higher and in Nevada so I can't comment specifically on what NHP does other than to observe that they've let me on I-80 when it was closed without chains but with snows.

Bigger picture is that chain control is designed to allow traffic to flow in an organized manner into poor weather/road conditions. In this endeavor the chain control guys have quite a bit of independance. They're going to let sensibly prepared folks through and the dangerous ones are turned back. A 2wd with snows is likely to be positively received, a jacked up 4x4 with oversized 'off-road' tires and 'tuned' exhaust may well be turned around.

Again I'd observe my real-world experience is that I haven't put chains on in the last 5+ years that I've lived up here (I don't have any). I am running an awd with snows and a 4x4 with studs though. I do have the choice whether to drive or not too (weekends I hibernate 'cause it's too crazy out there).

The definitive answers to many FAQs can be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/tr...ize/chains.htm
post #5 of 32
Mt Rose highway is chains or snow tires, I've never heard of chains mandatory on the Mt Rose highway. HWY 267, Brockway Summit-Kings Beach to Truckee past Northstar, can be chains mandatory on all vehicles except 4WD with snow tires. Highway 28, the main road along the north shore is sometimes chains mandatory in CA, NV usually has chains or snow tires only. I-80 over Donner is always chains mandatory except 4WD with snow tires. US HWY 50 to Carson City is usually chains or snow tires. HWY 50 over Echo Summit alway chains mandatory.

To sum it up, in NV chains or snow tires required rarely anyone checking. CA passes chains mandatory except 4WD with snow tires, almost always someone checking. CA low lying roads hit or miss. It's best to have chains if you do not have 4WD. You can have the best snow tires available on your 2WD and CHP isn't going to let you over any of the passes.

I believe the Spikes Spiders are legal. I've seen lots of cars with the attachments on their rims.

The Quick Fit chains are pretty easy to put on.
http://www.lesschwab.com/winter2005/quickfitchains.html
post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by desertdawg
To sum it up, in NV chains or snow tires required rarely anyone checking. CA passes chains mandatory except 4WD with snow tires, almost always someone checking. CA low lying roads hit or miss. It's best to have chains if you do not have 4WD. You can have the best snow tires available on your 2WD and CHP isn't going to let you over any of the passes.
Are you sure about that ? R1 is the condition that lets 2wd with snows continue, while R2 is the condition that demands chains on all 2wd. What you're saying is that R2 conditions are posted, not R1. At least CalTrans says they're more likely to close the road than post R3 conditions which are chains on all vehicles. I think you're over-generalizing a little although I wouldn't disagree with your premise that carrying chains is probably a good idea. If you're saying that 4wd is superior to 2wd I'd start to argue though

UPDATE: Well I'm wrong. I just 'phoned a local CHP contact. Caltrans normally jumps straight to R2. So chains would be required on 2wds. Sorry.
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TruckeeLocal
Are you sure about that ? R1 is the condition that lets 2wd with snows continue, while R2 is the condition that demands chains on all 2wd. What you're saying is that R2 conditions are posted, not R1. At least CalTrans says they're more likely to close the road than post R3 conditions which are chains on all vehicles. I think you're over-generalizing a little although I wouldn't disagree with your premise that carrying chains is probably a good idea. If you're saying that 4wd is superior to 2wd I'd start to argue though
About 5 years ago the CHP changed I-80 and HWY 50 from R1, chains or snow tires to R-2, chains manadatory on all vehicles except 4WD. I cannot recall a time in the past few years where I-80 did not have R-2. Whether or not R2 is necessary or not is debateable, I think it is an attempt to slow people down. HWY 267 is R2 most of the time as well. 28 & 89 are mostly R1 except around Tahoe City where 28 often goes R2. I'm not saying 4WD is superior I'm just stating the facts. The main reason for the switch is the proliferation of people into the Tahoe area, storm or no storm. Most of the spinouts and accidents I've observed are 4WD or AWD. As you pointed out most of the flatlanders drive 4WD and drive way too fast.

I spent a season in Summit County, CO delivering pizza in a 2WD p/u with snow tires, I never used chains although I did carry them.
post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by desertdawg
Most of the spinouts and accidents I've observed are 4WD or AWD. As you pointed out most of the flatlanders drive 4WD and drive way too fast.
I have the same observation - 4wd/awd gives folks too much misplaced confidence. The systems are good for going, not for stopping. The additional weight and height actually detract from safe driving with only marginal benefits in other situations.

Those dumb b*st*rds are going to cause Caltrans to jump straight to R3. Not that it would make any difference - I'd still be hibernating : But it would mean that I'd actually have to get some chains "just in case" : I'd get those quickfit ones which are similar to what I used to use. Easy on and off and a proven functionality.
post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Okay, so.... if it was your daughter driving a front wheel drive vehicle what option would you choose for them?
Thank you, thank you and thank you for all the info!
post #10 of 32

speed

so what speed would you recommend for an SUV in an R2 situation on I 80- assuming visibility is fairly good. 40mph? or is that too fast?
post #11 of 32
I did not even read all of the posts here. Your daughter is attending college in Incline. The College is @ the top of Village Blvd. That is a steep road!! All of Incline is (On the side of a Mountain) you are always going up hill or down hill. Honda with FWD And aggressive SNOW TIRES is good 90% of the time. There will be times when snow accumulation will shut her down due to ground clearance. If you can afford it? I would suggest getting her a 4WD (Old Cheap) You can get an old Subie or Cherokee, or Toyota P/U for less than 5,000$ ir you want to go real beater around 2,500 will get you a 4WD that will plow through anything.

I am serious about this, Incline and the West shore are the worst of the worst for getting jammed up by a quick hard winter storm. It is likely that she will walk out of class to to 1ft+ of unplowed roads and need to get home.
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkeway4
Okay, so.... if it was your daughter driving a front wheel drive vehicle what option would you choose for them?
Snows, not studs, for normal driving. That's a no-brainer. An easy-on set of chains for chain control unless you're set on these new-ish spikes spiders. A shovel, a hands-free flashlight, and a mat. Done. Except for the winter driving class which, while optional, should be recommended.

Then there's other parental things to do with daughters in the big bad world where single males of an equivalent age are prevalent. I hear praying helps, but not much else
post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty
so what speed would you recommend for an SUV in an R2 situation on I 80- assuming visibility is fairly good. 40mph? or is that too fast?
Posted speed limit is 30mph. Going 30% faster than that strikes me as obscene. An SUV should be going SLOWER than the posted speed limit because they should be observing the "safe and reasonable" speed limit. Or is my sarcasm alert monitor not working
post #14 of 32
Thread Starter 
Truckee, I think I'm just gonna make her come home now!!!!! This way, I can avoid the snow issue and the boys! All kidding aside, the SUV at this time is not an option. We have 2 kids in college and the car she is driving is brand new, bought for her BEFORE she decided to go west!. I am not set by any means on the Spiders. I really want what's the safest, cost effective option. Her condo is next door to the college, well within walking distance. Her job is at Diamond Peak, the snowboard team pratices at Mt. Rose and her other season's pass is to Northstar. So.. it appears that for classes (the most important place to me) she can walk, for snowboard practice she can chum a ride with a fellow team member that has 4WD which leaves her job which is pretty important and Northstar which is not important at all, she could just go another time there. Do I need to invest in snow tires and chains or could we SAFELY get away with just the spiders? Oh, and from what her ex-boyfriend told me (who is a gearhead), she is one of the better girl drivers he's ever seen. Although she doesn't have Tahoe experience by any means!
post #15 of 32
Sounds like you have a plan. Get some snow tires. Have her drive down to Reno to Sears or where ever and put some cheap snows on the car. I am not on the sears Website but my guess would be around 120$ for the two tires. And yes there will be lots of safe people to get her around when the snow is deep.

She is gonna have a very good time.
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkeway4
Do I need to invest in snow tires and chains or could we SAFELY get away with just the spiders? Oh, and from what her ex-boyfriend told me (who is a gearhead), she is one of the better girl drivers he's ever seen. Although she doesn't have Tahoe experience by any means!
I think girls/women are fundementally better snow drivers. They've got enough sense to be afraid and so drive more cautiously. Punctually may not be their strongest point but again it works in their favor because they don't rush !

Today we had frozen roads. Rain last night and it got down to 20f last night. I-80 was closed due to a jackknifed big-rig. Chains of whatever description wouldn't be used in this morning's conditions. That's why I suggest snow tires over chains. They handle a greater number of adverse conditions that we experience. Chains allow access through chain control and that's generally the only time they're used. So I think it's unsafe not to have snows in snow country while chains are optional. Maybe she'll miss a powder day or two 'cause she can't get through chain control
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TruckeeLocal
There are many other threads on general winter driving. But here are some thoughts that some recent posts generated.
  • I was driving around yesterday. My estimate is that around half of the vehicles are 2wd.
  • On the weekend, when the flatlanders showup, the proportion of 4wd vehicles goes up significantly.
  • My guess is that the vast majority of flatlanders drive 4x4/awds while locals don't really care either way.
  • Many/most locals run snow tires (although that's a guess)
  • A CHP friend of mine has three vehicles, two of which are 2wd and one of those is used by his daughter
  • Another CHP friend has his wife driving a 2wd vehicle (he and his son drive big 4x4 pickups for their second job - construction)
  • And one of his retired CHP buddies still drives a Crown Victoria
  • Active CHP officers still use 2wd Crown Vics, as well as Expeditions, up here
  • Normal chain control requires chains or snows
  • I don't know anyone up here who has these "Spikes-Spiders". Hell we avoid chaining up too.
So some personal conclusions ...
  • The driver, not the vehicle, is the primary issue
  • Front wheel drive works well when driven properly - conversely my old 70's era yank-tank rear-wheel drive was a pain
  • Snows are the best option (we had icy roads today that wouldn't dictate the use of chains)
  • Spikes-Spiders seem to be an expensive way to go for chains
  • Chains work just fine and there are chains that are easy to put on/take-off
  • I haven't had any chains for the last 5, or so, years and haven't missed them
Hope this helps.
Truckee not that it’s needed, but I wanted to say this was a very accurate mater of fact assessment of winter driving in any mountain community
post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
Truckee not that its needed, but I wanted to say this was a very accurate mater of fact assesment of winter driving in any mountain comunity
Thank you.

Something I forgot to mention. Locals, who should know better, drive crazy too. Visitors then think it's safe "when in Rome do what the Romans do". But the Romans have snow tires/studs, they have experience, they don't care as much what happens to their vehicles, they know the roads and road conditions, and they know which snow banks to use in an emergency. I think locals should set a better precident rather than whining about flatlanders not knowing what they're doing (they don't).
post #19 of 32
Also need to get your mind around the idea that you might need to steer into a snowbank to avoid skidding into busy cross traffic.
post #20 of 32
You can get away with Spyders. As pointed out earlier chains will get her through chain controls snow tires may not. That being said snow tires will get her around Incline, Diamond Peak and to Mt Rose. For forays to Northstar she'll need a set of chains. Quick Fit chains are around $60 a pair and quite easy to put on. If she's there for 4 years both might not be a bad investment. Most shops will exchange snows for her old all season tires every spring and fall after the initial purchase, usually for little or no cost. She'll have to store the tires she's not using though.

Tires Plus and Les Schwab are also good places for tires.

MTT,

I think SNC has moved their campus to almost lake level, Country Club and HWY 28.
post #21 of 32
Thread Starter 
You are all fantastic I must say!!!!!! You have certainly helped me tremendously. Snow tires it is. Off to Reno she must go!! If she must miss a powder day so be it. (Although she may have a different opinion.) If chains are only $60 or so maybe we will invest in both. I was thinking they were in the $300 range. Where can the Quick Fit chains be purchased?
DesertDawg you are right, 90% of the campus is now down on the lake with a few buildings still up at the old mountain campus. ALso, where can she take this winter driving course? And to all of the Tahoe natives, a great big hat's off to you. She cannot say enough about how everybody there is so nice and helpful. She loves it there and I don't expect to see her ever move back East.
post #22 of 32
Les Schwab sells snow rims too. I would advise picking up a set when getting the snow tires. I bought a set of four snow rims from Schwab here in Boise for $29 a piece when I bought my snow tires there a while back. It simplifies the seasonal changeover, which Schwab will do for free.
post #23 of 32
She cannot say enough about how everybody there is so nice and helpful. She loves it there and I don't expect to see her ever move back East

Sounds like you might end up with a free play to stay when visiting Tahoe. (Not a bad thing) Just wait untill you drive over Hwy 431 get to Sheep flats and see (The Lake) I have been doing it for 40 years and it still takes my breath away every time.
post #24 of 32
Thread Starter 
I have been lucky to visit twice already. Once to see the college while attending a forumn snowboard competition of hers and once to drop her off to school. Coming over Mt. Rose is spectacular. If my husband and I didn't own our own business I would move there in a heartbeat. As it is we are thinking about looking for land for retirement. And yes, she moved into a condo so lodging is now free for mom and dad, sort of. I mean after all, we do pay part of college expenses! Thanks to all for your help
post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty
so what speed would you recommend for an SUV in an R2 situation on I 80- assuming visibility is fairly good. 40mph? or is that too fast?
Too fast for any vehicle in r2 conditions regardless of what tires/chains or combo.

There's a reason for the 30MPH speed limit when chain controls are up.

2wd, 4wd, tires/chains etc.. almost all vehicles still take the a huge distance to stop on snow. Once the wheels stop, they just drag all the snow with them and it's like snow on snow. slippery no matter how you slice it. Antilock will probably not help you stop a whole lot faster, It just does it in a straight line so hopefully you don't end up in the ditch..

DC
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
Too fast for any vehicle in r2 conditions regardless of what tires/chains or combo.

There's a reason for the 30MPH speed limit when chain controls are up.

2wd, 4wd, tires/chains etc.. almost all vehicles still take the a huge distance to stop on snow. Once the wheels stop, they just drag all the snow with them and it's like snow on snow. slippery no matter how you slice it. Antilock will probably not help you stop a whole lot faster, It just does it in a straight line so hopefully you don't end up in the ditch..
Actually 4x4s will take a lot LONGER distance to stop than any car with chains in typical chain control conditions, even ignoring the extra momentum most SUVs have going against them. Hence my statement that 4x4s should not observe the posted speed limit but rather the considerably lower "safe and reasonable" limit. Not that what I think changes anything that goes on out there
post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkeway4
... where can she take this winter driving course?
"Sierra College will offer a winter driving classes (sic) with California Highway Patrol Officer Larry Bousquet ... will be held on Friday, Dec 2 and (or) Friday, Dec 16, 6-9 p.m. at Sierra College's Truckee campus ... For more information, call 582-7570".
post #28 of 32

chains are a must

Quote:
Originally Posted by milkeway4
You are all fantastic I must say!!!!!! You have certainly helped me tremendously. Snow tires it is. Off to Reno she must go!! If she must miss a powder day so be it. (Although she may have a different opinion.) If chains are only $60 or so maybe we will invest in both. I was thinking they were in the $300 range. Where can the Quick Fit chains be purchased?
DesertDawg you are right, 90% of the campus is now down on the lake with a few buildings still up at the old mountain campus. ALso, where can she take this winter driving course? And to all of the Tahoe natives, a great big hat's off to you. She cannot say enough about how everybody there is so nice and helpful. She loves it there and I don't expect to see her ever move back East.
Just about everybody has a set of chains. Snow tires don't hold very good when the roads have ice, especially up grades, and 40-60$ chains is less to pay than going over the edge or playing bumper car.
post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkeway4
If chains are only $60 or so maybe we will invest in both. I was thinking they were in the $300 range. Where can the Quick Fit chains be purchased?
Les Schwab sells the chains and as others have pointed out rims as well. You'll only need 1 pair of chains, $60-$80. There's a Les Schwab in South Reno, on Virginia just north of the Virginia/Kietzke interchange across from the convention center. That's prpbably the closest to Incline Village. Of course with the way South Reno has exploded over th past 2 years I could easliy be wrong.

Don't send her over on Thursday, a classic wet Sierra storm is brewing with up to 3 feet above 8000 feet, MT Rose is 8900 feet.
post #30 of 32
I got a decent set of chains at Costco. They have a number of different sizes, and they are easier than average to install. Pretty heavy duty for a car.
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