full time 4wd, MT's, do I need chains?

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Hey all,

This is going to be our 1st trek up to my parents house in the snow in our Cruiser for Christmas. They get plenty of snow, and advised that we have chains with us for our trip. Will the 4wd, OME, and 33" Bridgestone MT's be sufficient? Or will I need chains too? My Cruiser has no lockers, only the center one, which I don't really understand it's function anyway!! Thanks in advance!
 
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Um, it would be good to know where your parents live and things like that. You know, so that we can provide meaningful input and such. For instance, if your parents live up the street from you my answer would be, um.....um.....uh.......no.
 

alia176

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I've never, ever used chains on any of 4wd so far. Unless you're talking about going hunting in the mountains with 2' of deep snow, I wouldn't think you need them on the hwy.
 
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If its virgin deep heavy drifted snow you might want to have two for the front wheels to brake the trail. Ones the trail is broken you should be fine.
It would have to be deeeeeep soft off trail snow to need four chains.
Don't drive on the hwy with only chains on front as it will mess up the VC if you have one. When using chains lock the centerdiff.
 

ginericLC

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I would say there is a better chance of needing them with MTs than ATs. Just my experiences. You can run them on only one axle for short distances. If it is bad enough that you need 4 chains you better start watching other things like your ATF temp and play close attention to engine temp. Even though it is cold, that much traction and effort heats things up.
 
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I lived at Tahoe for 20 years, never put chains on a 4x4...If you're on the highway, use your cdl at the most. Remember, it's the Holidays, and you're bad ass rig will be going slowly behind a family in a nerd wagon with chains....

For example, going over donner summit...I80, if you need chains on your cruiser, caltrans will have closed the road all together by then.
 
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I've wheeled in 6+ feet of snow and on snowy roads and would say the larger chains have no advantage vs my cable chains. No science, just comparing mobility of the same group of chained vehicles vs my cable chains.

I have a theory on why. First, understand that chains basically present what amounts to a short paddle to a snowy surface - a third of an inch tall and as wide as the tread - for a tire profile that would simply not be suitable for everyday use on the road. Ditto cables (mine have short lengths of thick walled pipe on the cables that contact the ground). The difference is the cables seem more stable because the cables conform and fit better - for less movement on the treads.

If the tire's in a foot of snow, let's say there are 4 cables or chains in contact with the snow. Apply torque. Let's say one of the chains slips until it goes taut rather than stays put against the tire. What you have then is only 3 chains providing a grip at the crucial onset of movement, and a far higher chance the tire will spin. Interestingly, the 4th chain won't go taut until the other 3 slip. By contrast, the cables across the tread are all in equal tension and won't move (or will move the exact same distance) when torque is applied, so the force on them is more equal. They seem to provide more traction since one or the other will not break loose first.

Having said that, I think a properly set up set of regular chains could duplicate this stable condition, but they're much more difficult to get in this state. And they seem to move after a while even when originally set up correctly. These were experienced chain users and every half mile or so (about an hour) of trail wheeling one or the other had to stop and mess with a chain. I never had to.

For transitional use (install them to get home, or up someone's steep driveway), the cable chains I have are a breeze to put on. They have an integrated hoop for quick, faultless positioning, which also is why they're so stable in use.

I suspect for solid thick ice the "bar chain" (sharp little bars welded to the links) traditional style would be the very best as they tend to slap the ground and dig little holes. But for all around use and transitional use I feel a quality set of cable chains are hard to beat.

Whatever you get, don't scrimp on the chain tensioners. Get the good ones, and have at least 2 spares on hand as the greater the chain tension the closer you'll get to cable performance. Plus, eventually you'll see one of those chain tensioners go whizzing by the windows.

DougM
 

scottm

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Doug, sounds like you've used them a bit. Dramatic or marginal improvement using chains/cables with my little Coopers and lockers? Air down? I'm thinking: grinding my way home on Red Arrow/Blue Star when they close the expressway. Likely everything would be drifted shut. Likely I'd be thanking you for getting me into cruisers!
 

ginericLC

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I don't think a ML is an accurate comparison to a Cruiser. And why do they use a Range Rover picture if they talk about Mercedes. If you note what I said above. You can run chains on one axle for short distances in 4wd. And their logic does not work with me. Yes you may be only allowing two wheels to have power and brake by using chains but you really aren't choosing between 4wd and 2wd. You are choosing between not moving with 4 wheels spinning and moving with two wheels. Really, I think the whole idea of using chains on the highway is quite silly except to get off the road. If it is bad enough that you need to chain up, stay home. And I'm not saying that you are not capable or the vehicle is not capable, but what about the bonehead who thinks he is indestructable and smashes into you?
 

Brentbba

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CA will allow you to proceed with a 4 wheel drive and adequate all terrain or snow tires under current chain laws. That being said, you SHOULD have chains in the truck anyway. I always take chains with me when going up to the mountains. Never had to use them and I've driven up to Tahoe in almost blizzard like conditions where chain checkpoints closed 1/2 hour after I went thru. Only things I was asked was 'is it a full time 4 wheel drive' and 'do you have chains with you'. They didn't require me to put them on.

Better safe and prepared than sorry! Have a safe and fun trip.
 
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California law requires that you have chains with you, even though it is 4wd and CHP will not ask you to put them on. I have never been checked but you could be cited if you don't have them. You will be fine driving up there, most likely the roads will be clear and dry. I will give you my best tip for driving on snow/ice covered roads (mind you that I have been going to Tahoe for years in a LOWERED BMW with only a ls rear to help and have only had to put on chains once). The tip for the snow covered roads is DRIVE MUCH SLOWER THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO. People drive way to fast many times and this causes them to have problems. If you don't know the road it is better to go to slow and have to back up and make a run at a hill than to drift off the road because you hit the turn to fast.

Cary
 

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