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Do I need a SUV for Lake Tahoe?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
 Can I get away with a rental car instead of an SUV since its much cheaper?  I am going this Thursday - Sunday and they are forecasting some snow.  I plan on hitting Sugar Bowl, Heavenly and Squaw.
post #2 of 9
Last time I was out to Tahoe, you had to have either a 4 wheel drive vehicle or a set of chains to put on the car in order to drive some of the roads and to get over the passes if it was snowing sufficiently for the Hiway cops to put the chain restrictions in effect.  If you didn't have chains or 4 wheel drive, there were "businesses" set up on either side of the passes that would put chains on your car for a fee and then remove them for you when you got to the other side.  I'm not sure if they provided the chains too or if you had to have your own.  I think the rental car companies will provide you with chains for a pretty good daily fee, if memory serves.  The guy that was processing me through the checkout process when I rented my car told me to stop by Walmart and buy a set.  If I needed them, they were there and cheaper than paying Hertz's fees.  If I didn't use them, just allow a little extra time on the way back to the airport to stop at Walmart and return them unopened and get my money back.  Worked for me as I got up to the ski resorts and back to the airport in between snow storms, so I didn't have to get the chains out.  I was also lucky that Walmart happened to have the right size chains for the car that I was renting.  Must be some Tahoe Bears that can fill you in better than my 10 year old experiences, but if the laws haven't changed, it's either pray that it doesn't snow when you're driving or pay for chains in one form or another or rent the SUV.
post #3 of 9
Get a 4WD/AWD vehicle.  Most, if not all, rental companies don't want you putting chains on their cars.  A broken chain can cause a lot of body damage quickly.

It is a decent drive between the 3 resorts you listed.
post #4 of 9
The people on the side of the road will only install/uninstall the chains.  They are not allowed to sell them.  You have to get the chains themselves from a store.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tag View Post

  If you didn't have chains or 4 wheel drive, there were "businesses" set up on either side of the passes that would put chains on your car for a fee and then remove them for you when you got to the other side.  I'm not sure if they provided the chains too or if you had to have your own.
post #5 of 9
If you want to maximize  your time on skis and minimize your time on the road - get an SUV. Storm expected tonight and friday night into saturday.
post #6 of 9
An SUV may not cut it.

The Highway Patrol has been puting up chain control stations this winter during stormy times in the Tahoe area. In some cases 4WD vehicles without winter tires (they are starting to check) are not allowed to pass without chaining up. The signs DO say  "Chains or 4wd with snow tires OK"

BTW it is a $95 ticket to not carry chains in the winter when traveling in the Sierras. That is why I always carry chains even tho I have never needed them. I drive a Subaru with winter tires.
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsproul View Post

Get a 4WD/AWD vehicle.  Most, if not all, rental companies don't want you putting chains on their cars.  A broken chain can cause a lot of body damage quickly.

It is a decent drive between the 3 resorts you listed.

Yep, now that you jog my memory a bit, the rental company would NOT set me up with chains, I had to get them on my own hence the guy's suggestion that I head to Walmart and pick some up.  I remember now that the conversation started because I had reserved a AWD vehicle and when I got there, they didn't have any left and when the guy asked why I wanted an SUV (I had flown in to Sacramento not Reno) and I told him where I was going, then he let me know about the chain law.
post #8 of 9
When I went I got a 4 wheel drive.  I dont think it had snow tires.  I don't think they come with them.
post #9 of 9
I would go with a Chevy,
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