So you're headed to the pass for a great day on the slopes and "Chains Required" flashes across the highway reader board.
For starters, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to put on chains. In both Washington and Oregon, if you have 4-wheel (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), you may not have to chain up as long as all wheels are in gear and have approved traction tires. You do, however, need to carry chains in the vehicle. There's a little more to it than that, and you can learn the particulars here for Washington and Oregon.
But, if you see that sign and you don't have 4WD or AWD, front-wheel drive vehicles require chains on the front tires, and rear-wheel drive vehicles need chains on the rear tires.
In the spirit of "a picture is worth a thousand words," we like this two-minute video that shows how to install cable chains on a front-wheel drive car. Important to remember: Chain design varies by manufacturer. Always defer to the instructions that came with your chains.
And if, after watching the video, all that seems like a little much? Take some cash with you, and maybe you'll be lucky enough to find some hardy souls like these to chain you up.
A few tips for chain-up success:
- Practice inside your garage. It's better to learn there than with freezing fingers, crouched on a snowy road shoulder.
- Get as far off the road as safely possible before installing your chains. That reduces the chance that another car could slide into you as you're working.
- Stop and check the chains after you've driven for a few minutes. They may need to be tightened.
- Never exceed 25 mph with chains (or the speed recommended by your manufacturer).
- Don't use chains on wet or bare pavement. Remove them once you've left the snow and ice behind.
- Once you're home, let your chains dry out in the garage before packing them away. That will help prevent rust.
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