I am heading up to Big Bear on Wednesday the 24th. Will I need to buy snow chains for my car?
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Take a look at the weather forecast. No snow predicted. However, it's a good idea to always carry chains.
If you have a car with 4WD do you still need chains? If so, where can we get them? We will be renting a car.
When it snows in the California mountains we will typically get a large accumulation. Normally too much for 2WD cars to handle without tire chains. The California Highway Patrol will set up road blocks beyond which you either have to put on chains or be driving a 4WD car. Four wheel drive cars are supposed to be carrying chains just in case conditions get really bad. For a normal snow storm I would rent the 4WD vehicle and risk that you won’t have to show anyone that you’re carrying chains, or I would buy them and leave them unopened in the hopes that you can return them and get your $120(?) back. You don’t want to be driving if conditions are bad enough that chains are required on 4WD cars; a relatively unusual occurrence. Even if it hasn’t snowed in a few days and chains aren’t required, a 4WD car is nice to have in ski country. The main roads may be plowed and clear, but your lodging may be on a road that isn’t cleared.
You might, depends on road conditions.
"If I have 4-wheel-drive, do I need to carry chains?
Yes. Even though weather conditions may not warrant the use of chains on 4-wheel-drive vehicles at a particular time, to enter a chain control area, you must have a set of chains (for one drive axle) for your vehicle in your possession. If conditions worsen or you have trouble controlling your vehicle, you must stop and install the chains."
You need you tire number, then call, visit, check online, various auto shops and tire shops to see if they have them in stock. Walmart is probably cheapest, but may or may not have them in stock.
There are 3 levels of chain control. R1 permits AWD/4WD to drive if they have M/S tires.
I won't drive past that, but R2 requires chains even for 4WD and I don't know what the third level is.
Keep in mind that if you do use chains, you must drive way, way slower. WAY slower. Learned this the hard way (but fortunately, I guess, on my own car).
Because if you damage your rental car (they don't allow chains - if you find one that does, please let everyone know) - you will find yourself with hefty liability (breaking their rules voids your insurance - again if you read the small print and find some other company that allows chains...)
The rangers ask if you have chains (as do chain control points). Rangers don't check to see if you have them, but I would never advise lying to them. Have the chains. They are available at Sears, WalMart, AutoZone and etc. You have to search for your exact tire model online, IME.
If there is a chain control point you will be asked to put on chains (they will sell them to you) or not go onward. Putting them on voids your rental contract.
HOWEVER...if you are talking about this week - you will not need chains! WE WISH! It is not going to snow in Big Bear.
It's been in the low 70's, high 60's; lows over night are barely below 50.
It's not gonna snow.
I don't think you can buy chains at chain control checkpoints anymore. So I would have them with you if stormy or storms are in the forecast. I would also be worried about not having the correct size.
Someone mentioned this place awhile back, but probably $$$$
The OP went in January.
Sylvia, best to start your own thread. But to answer: when is your trip? Driving to Big Bear means having to show chains if there's a chain control - but you cannot put chains on a rental car. 4WD is necessary, but you still might have to show chains. You can buy them at any tire store (use google). Problem is, you have to know exactly the size tires on the car you are driving, and if renting, you won't know until you rent. Another problem, you can't use them on the rental.
Thanks you very mucho for all your great answers! We are going on New Year’s and will stay there until January 4th.