I'm going to buy my first set of chains/cables because I'm in a situation where I will probably HAVE to drive during our 2-3 "ices" we have here in NC. 3 questions:
1. what car? I have a 2wd explorer with abs/traction control and I have a 03 Rubicon with no abs/traction control on 33's.
2. chains or cables? From my reading I was settled on vbar chains but after talking to a couple of vendors they are all saying SCC Z chains (cables) are the way to go for ice.
3. chain up all 4 tires or just 2?
Ive never had traction control, so I cant really say much about that, although ABS in the winter technically makes it take LONGER to stop. Also, ABS can be 'simulated' by pumping the brakes SLIGHTLY and not too much. You will want to chain all 4 tires; with just two done, you can go straight, but wont be able to turn, or stop as well, seeing as all four wheels have brakes on them.
Chains have better traction in deep snow and on ice, cables offer greater clearance if your fenders are very close to oversize tires or if your wheels are too close to the suspension like when the wheels have a lot of backspacing. If you have adequate clearance around your tires and your wheels aren't tucked in close with a lot of backspacing, I'd go for the chains. If there's any doubt about clearance for the chains, especially in the rear where the tire's sidewall is close to the upper coil spring mount, the safer decision would be cables.
Hey guys, Resurrecting this thread... So sounds like chains are the way to go... Should I get a set for both front and rear, or will I be safe with just the rear...
Also, Jerry or anyone else in SoCal, how often have you seen the roads to Big Bear go to an R3 level requiring us to put chains on? I had a set of used cables I picked up a few years ago but never had to use them. Just wanted to see if I should even bother investing in them. I'm running 285/70R17 BFG A/T's on my '10 Wrangler Sport.
I have not seen the CHP actually stopping people and requiring them to install their chains very many times going heading into Big Bear. The CHP road blocks are usually nothing more than a check that your vehicle either has snow (like M+S) tires or that you have suitable chains with you. Since getting my Jeep, they normally just wave me through.
I go to big bear a lot in the winter for snowboarding. They do checks/stops only after a big storm or on busy weekends with even minor storms. I have chains, they grip much better than cables. With that said, I've never driven on roads bad enough to warrant 4x4 and chains. Smart driving goes a long way.
Make sure you at least have chains/cables with you. I've seen them checking a few times. But, like Jerry said, I always get waved along.
if you have 4WD i've always been a believer that the chains should go in the front. that way they help motivate you, steer you, and brake you. that's where i run mine, and most of the folks i see in northern PA run the same way. of course if you only have 2WD put them on the drive wheels.
'You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.' - Walt Disney, Animator, Film Producer
'four wheel drive only allows you to get stuck in more inaccessible places' - George Noll
We had a club meeting one night and while we were inside the restaurant, it rained on the very cold blacktop parking lot. No one made it out except a guy driving his wife's Lexus with traction control. Very impressive. also, very unusual.
Chains are best for ice, but how much does he really have. Is he driving on the arctic tundra? If its just occasional, four studded snow tires are probably all he needs. If he is a ski instructor living in town above 6000 feet, get a nice set of chains (four wheels) and a warm garage to put them on.
03 Rubicon; 99 xj with too much stuff to list; Unimog 406 (gone)