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Self drive/self catering newbies: advice wanted

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My regular winter tip - if your vehicle has adaptive traction controls then sort out what to set when you hit snow and again when you're back on tarmac. On some vehicles it's much less obvious than others.

On my BMW, when I move on to snow (or sand, gravel etc.) I have to press a curiously-labelled 'car-with-wriggly-lines' button for a couple of seconds, then 'TRACTION' displays on the dash, and when I get back onto tarmac, I press it again and the TRACTION sign goes off. The BMW Owners Manual takes about 200 words to explain this and uses a bunch of acronyms as well that totally confuse the reader and make the whole thing ambiguous. It also doesn't make it clear whether you can do all this on the move (you can) or need to be stationary, nor whether you still do this once you have fitted your chains (you must). It also tells you not to press the button for to long (what's 'too long'?) or the car goes into some sort of Superpower Transformers mode. Basically, if the button just had a snowflake icon on it the whole thing would be intuitive.

So worth checking ahead of time and giving it a go if you haven't tried it before, just so you're ready.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Mr.Egg wrote:
xanderajma wrote:


On chains, I've got to get some of the fancy ones so not to ruin the tyres and hubs apparently Shocked £200 and up, ebay here I come.


I bet you could find 2nd hand winter tyres with rims for £200 & the get cheap £20 chains to ruin the tyres & hubs with


Sadly (or not so sadly) our high profile tyres that came with the R Design we have (need the 360 parking cameras for the OH) so have v high profile rims. they are £350 each per tyre (had to replace 2 on first service Shocked due to 1 nail and one screw!?! ) and I think rims are like £5k so not something to mess with IMO. they are 275/45 20 s so big old beasts.

But I have started looking, and it seems like it's like £250 second hand or north of £300, but I've put my tyre man onto it!

The upside to fancy new chains, having watched a video they look super easy to fit!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Get steel wheels.
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
@xanderajma We have the Spike Spider Easy for our performance convertible. I wish I'd got some of these £300 ones sooner, because they would have been adjustable to fit the last three cars we've owned from Audi, Jaguar and BMW - I wouldn't now have three different sets of cheap chains in the garage. And as you say, they fit on very quickly.

If you are looking at the Spike Spiders, be aware that they will probably need the links adjusting to fit your specific wheel: they come set up for the smallest wheel in the fitment range and you have to spend 20 minutes or so per chainset re-setting the links if the wheel is bigger. This is much easier if you have a spare handy and can lay the spare flat on the ground. The manual doesn't really get the point across that pre-fitting (before you need them in earnest) is more a necessity than just desirable.

But as mentioned by others, a completely separate set of winter wheels and tyres may work out to be a simpler option, allowing you to use the right spec' of tyre for snow and cheaper chains. Obviously dependent on your having the space to store the unused set, as we do:



For our car, the manufacturer recommends a narrower and smaller (225mm x 17") winter wheel+tyre compared to the summers (245mm x 18"). So I just went to an independent who got me a cheap set of winter alloys and the corresponding winter tyres. Somewhat annoyingly in some ways (but good in others) I've never actually had to fit the chains since I got winter tyres. The trouble with chains with summer tyres is when you hit 'transitional' conditions like these:


http://youtube.com/v/uq6LQkRgjrU

A bit further on, it went back to tarmac, and then transitioned back to packed snow and so on ... You might not be able to pull off to fit them before you run into trouble. And then you may find yourself repeatedly stopping to switch them off then on.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Tue 8-12-20 23:47; edited 10 times in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If you have a garage get 17” cheap wheels with full blown winter tyres for the journey
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You'll need to Register first of course.
Depends on the brake disc diameter and offset but you can fit smaller steel wheels and have higher profile winter tyres. I have gone from 20" summer alloys to 17" winter steel wheels. I got 5 plus 5 tyres for around £650 and keep one under the boot floor all year round as the car only came with a gunge kit and pump originally. The ride is much better on the winter tyres too.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

they come set up for the smallest wheel in the fitment range and you have to spend 20 minutes or so per chainset re-setting the links if the wheel is bigger.

A friend who bought these for his Volvo in Albertville watched the guy who sold them to him making this adjustment. My friend is competent enough but said it took a long time, and would have taken him a lot longer - the salesman did several each week and was pretty slick. They were then quite easy to put on, apparently but one got lost somewhere on a very snowy and windy road (so perhaps hadn't been put on right)- we retraced his steps several times but the snowplough had been past at least once and it was never seen again.

If you have a particularly tricky set up you might have no choice, but for cars with decent clearance there's nothing very difficult about putting on the normal sort of cheap chains. Getting them off can be harder! A small spade (a child's beach spade is fine) for clearing the ground behind the wheel can be useful.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@pam_w Well, I'm no chain ninja - this (20 min) is what it took me each chain set, albeit using the spare wheel on the ground, which makes it all much easier. I have fitted chains to a hire car in the same location (in the underground garage prior to driving out) and that put me off 'budget' chains big time. And then we had to stop after 100m or so and re-tension the budgets again. The trouble for most of us is that we never get much chance to work with any sort: I've noticed that locals are just as loath to put them on as visitors, and will often leave it a bit late (e.g. when they're stuck on some churned-up access road), but seem to fit them (understandably) a lot quicker.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Yes, stopping to re-tension is a pain, I agree. I was really reinforcing the point that you need to adjust the expensive spike things to fit your wheels well in advance of actually needing to use them. I didn't have the cheapest, basic chains - a slightly more up-market version and stronger version which was supposedly self-tensioning (but wasn't, quite..... if only because there's inevitably a big part of the circumference of the tyre that you can't deal with when it's on the ground, especially if there's a certain amount of frozen slush around). I suppose I looked at the price of the very expensive efforts similarly to paying a fortune for Flexiplus on the tunnel - too costly for the time saved. I didn't enjoy deploying chains - it's a messy, cold job but I confess to always feeling a certain excitement about it - it did, after all, mean there was a lot of snow about! And there's a satisfaction to being able to do it quickly and without fuss.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Top tip for driving if a bit tired - apart from stopping and having a kip, of course, is to pull over, get out of the car and literally run around the car 3 times. By the time you're done with that you will be wideawake.

Plus seeing the reaction on your kids' faces is priceless.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Yep, the driver of the refrigerated truck is texting...

http://youtube.com/v/u0I5E3s_gm8&t=8s
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Timc wrote:
@johnE wrote:

Quote:
Lots of arguments here about the tag, the only people I have seen arguing against having them appear to not have them themselves and those of us who do will never want to go back to being without.

I have also noticed that the people advocating them have paid out for them. Strange that.

and continue to pay Very Happy
Big advantage as far as I am concerned, I don't have to wake my wife at the barrier, even bigger advantage, she doesn't have to wake me. Very Happy Very Happy


You pay for the tag only for the month you use it...
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Thanks for the advice everyone, some really useful gems there.

Plenty of time to prepare now as pretty sure we wont be going this year!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Well obviously we didn't get to go this year but I got all my money back, very promptly from Snowtrex and pretty quickly from Eurotunnel. So just booked exactly the same for next year, so fingers crossed we will get there. Thanks again for the tips and advice
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
This thread has been really useful in planning our trip for next year. We are likely going to drive, mainly because it is way more flexible than a flight and having to wear a facemask for hours! We are planning on going in the first week of April to Tignes. With that in mind a couple of questions:

1) Winter Tyres - are these necessary or worthwhile (we live in London)?

2) Car park's in Tignes - we are driving a Seat Alhambra. Height is 1.75m and we don't plan to take a roof box. Will we be ok height wise?

3) Eurotunnel - we were planning on buying the standard refundable tickets. What we couldn't work out was what happens if you take the 1st leg no problems, but have to amend the return leg because of say a negative test? Can you amend to another date?

4) Chains - hoping they wont be necessary in April, but will still carry. Was thinking of getting the easy fitting chains like the Konig's or the Weissenfels. Anyone had any experiences of these?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
FrediKanoute wrote:
This thread has been really useful in planning our trip for next year. We are likely going to drive, mainly because it is way more flexible than a flight and having to wear a facemask for hours! We are planning on going in the first week of April to Tignes. With that in mind a couple of questions:

1) Winter Tyres - are these necessary or worthwhile (we live in London)?

Not necessary in France as not a legal requirement, worthwhile if you do a lot of winter driving (even in the UK) but less so in April, even in the mountains. Some/many people are favouring all season tyres.

FrediKanoute wrote:
2) Car park's in Tignes - we are driving a Seat Alhambra. Height is 1.75m and we don't plan to take a roof box. Will we be ok height wise?

Yes.

FrediKanoute wrote:
3) Eurotunnel - we were planning on buying the standard refundable tickets. What we couldn't work out was what happens if you take the 1st leg no problems, but have to amend the return leg because of say a negative test? Can you amend to another date?

Yes but with a standard you will have to pay a fee and any difference in price. The ticket itself is valid for one year.

FrediKanoute wrote:
4) Chains - hoping they wont be necessary in April, but will still carry. Was thinking of getting the easy fitting chains like the Konig's or the Weissenfels. Anyone had any experiences of these?

Normal chains are pretty easy if you practice a few times. Easy fitting would suggest a compromise in performance but I haven't researched these or recently so it could be that they are good.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Layne wrote:
FrediKanoute wrote:
This thread has been really useful in planning our trip for next year. We are likely going to drive, mainly because it is way more flexible than a flight and having to wear a facemask for hours! We are planning on going in the first week of April to Tignes. With that in mind a couple of questions:

1) Winter Tyres - are these necessary or worthwhile (we live in London)?

Not necessary in France as not a legal requirement, worthwhile if you do a lot of winter driving (even in the UK) but less so in April, even in the mountains. Some/many people are favouring all season tyres.

FrediKanoute wrote:
2) Car park's in Tignes - we are driving a Seat Alhambra. Height is 1.75m and we don't plan to take a roof box. Will we be ok height wise?

Yes.

FrediKanoute wrote:
3) Eurotunnel - we were planning on buying the standard refundable tickets. What we couldn't work out was what happens if you take the 1st leg no problems, but have to amend the return leg because of say a negative test? Can you amend to another date?

Yes but with a standard you will have to pay a fee and any difference in price. The ticket itself is valid for one year.

FrediKanoute wrote:
4) Chains - hoping they wont be necessary in April, but will still carry. Was thinking of getting the easy fitting chains like the Konig's or the Weissenfels. Anyone had any experiences of these?

Normal chains are pretty easy if you practice a few times. Easy fitting would suggest a compromise in performance but I haven't researched these or recently so it could be that they are good.


Can't agree more but for chains I strongly suggest you to make some research on what's allowed by your car manufacturer or not and based on your tyre's size. Check also they are EU certified..... Polaire is a great brand. I order mine there: https://www.tyres-pneus-online.co.uk/
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@FrwediKanoute Is your vehicle a high-performance model? I ask because if it's not, or is an SUV, then all-seasons are a real option. But A/s aren't so suitable for a high-performance model, as they're a big compromise in the summer vs summer tyres. And as mentioned re chains: check what wheels and tyres you have fitted against your Owner's Manual and see if the manufacturer certifies chains for that combination, on your specific model/variant. My main observation re chains is that you get what you pay for, whatever typre you go for, in terms of durability and ease of fitment.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
All I can add to @Layne's is snow chains. Over perhaps 30 ski season drives to Les Arcs I have only needed chains twice. One of them was in April. Without detailed knowledge of wheels I cannot comment upon which ones to get, but the front fitting ones are expensive.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
LaForet wrote:
@FrwediKanoute Is your vehicle a high-performance model? I ask because if it's not, or is an SUV, then all-seasons are a real option. But A/s aren't so suitable for a high-performance model, as they're a big compromise in the summer vs summer tyres. And as mentioned re chains: check what wheels and tyres you have fitted against your Owner's Manual and see if the manufacturer certifies chains for that combination, on your specific model/variant. My main observation re chains is that you get what you pay for, whatever typre you go for, in terms of durability and ease of fitment.


Hmmmm....not sure Alhambra and high performance go in the same sentence. No mate its a People Mover and all seasons are a good compromise!

Re chains - Looking at the owners manual, they indicate:

"Snow chains must only be mounted on thefront wheels, even on all-wheel drive vehicles, and only with the tyre and rim combina-tions listed below:

205/60/R16


Our wheels are 225/50/17's. The manual goes on to say:

SEAT recommends you ask a technical serv-ice for further information on wheel, tyre and chain sizes.Wherever possible use fine-link chains measuring less than 15 mm (37/64 inch) includ-ing the lock. Remove wheel hub covers and trim rings be-fore fitting snow chains should be covered with caps for safety rea-sons. These are available from technical serv-ices. Snow chains are available in different sizes according to vehicle types

All in all I am confused so may just ask an expert
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
johnE wrote:
All I can add to @Layne's is snow chains. Over perhaps 30 ski season drives to Les Arcs I have only needed chains twice. One of them was in April. Without detailed knowledge of wheels I cannot comment upon which ones to get, but the front fitting ones are expensive.


Thanks jonhE. I think in reality the chances of using chains is low, but not improbable. Not too worried about expense, but more want to reduce the chance of damaging the car and the front fitting ones offer a lower risk of that happening.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
johnE wrote:
All I can add to @Layne's is snow chains. Over perhaps 30 ski season drives to Les Arcs I have only needed chains twice. One of them was in April. Without detailed knowledge of wheels I cannot comment upon which ones to get, but the front fitting ones are expensive.


Keep in mind that even if you don't need chains, it could be mandatory to have them in your car ans this could be check by Gendarmerie......
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
FrediKanoute wrote:
johnE wrote:
All I can add to @Layne's is snow chains. Over perhaps 30 ski season drives to Les Arcs I have only needed chains twice. One of them was in April. Without detailed knowledge of wheels I cannot comment upon which ones to get, but the front fitting ones are expensive.


Thanks jonhE. I think in reality the chances of using chains is low, but not improbable. Not too worried about expense, but more want to reduce the chance of damaging the car and the front fitting ones offer a lower risk of that happening.


And by the way, even if you can find chains that fits with the size of your tyre it will not fit with your car.... For example, my car can't have "classical" chains because behind the wheel sensors will be damaged by chains so I had to buy more expensive chains like this: https://www.tyres-pneus-online.co.uk/snow-chain/polaire/grip-100/
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
FrediKanoute wrote:
LaForet wrote:
@FrwediKanoute Is your vehicle a high-performance model? I ask because if it's not, or is an SUV, then all-seasons are a real option. But A/s aren't so suitable for a high-performance model, as they're a big compromise in the summer vs summer tyres. And as mentioned re chains: check what wheels and tyres you have fitted against your Owner's Manual and see if the manufacturer certifies chains for that combination, on your specific model/variant. My main observation re chains is that you get what you pay for, whatever typre you go for, in terms of durability and ease of fitment.


Hmmmm....not sure Alhambra and high performance go in the same sentence. No mate its a People Mover and all seasons are a good compromise!

Re chains - Looking at the owners manual, they indicate:

"Snow chains must only be mounted on thefront wheels, even on all-wheel drive vehicles, and only with the tyre and rim combina-tions listed below:

205/60/R16


Our wheels are 225/50/17's. The manual goes on to say:

SEAT recommends you ask a technical serv-ice for further information on wheel, tyre and chain sizes.Wherever possible use fine-link chains measuring less than 15 mm (37/64 inch) includ-ing the lock. Remove wheel hub covers and trim rings be-fore fitting snow chains should be covered with caps for safety rea-sons. These are available from technical serv-ices. Snow chains are available in different sizes according to vehicle types

All in all I am confused so may just ask an expert


If you don't get anything immediately definitive I've a couple of sets that size and used on VAG vehicles that you could try to assess in practice, that's if you're anywhere near me (SW 19 postal area) generally they'll be easily clear of obstruction with a 9mm chain link size on these vehicles.
If you put your hand over the inside top of tire at about 12 o'clock position, then that's the the closest point of tire and suspension to give you some guidance.

The offer's there if you get stuck and you'd at least get a practical run of installation if you've not tried before.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Basically a valley drive in the spring followed by 10km up a steep hill. No need to drive round the resort?

You should be OK with normal summer tyres and a pair of snow socks in the boot. Even if you get a snowy snap they should get you up and down the hill, then it’s a valley drive in the spring back home. They’ll probably stay in the boot.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
ski3 wrote:
FrediKanoute wrote:
LaForet wrote:
@FrwediKanoute Is your vehicle a high-performance model? I ask because if it's not, or is an SUV, then all-seasons are a real option. But A/s aren't so suitable for a high-performance model, as they're a big compromise in the summer vs summer tyres. And as mentioned re chains: check what wheels and tyres you have fitted against your Owner's Manual and see if the manufacturer certifies chains for that combination, on your specific model/variant. My main observation re chains is that you get what you pay for, whatever typre you go for, in terms of durability and ease of fitment.


Hmmmm....not sure Alhambra and high performance go in the same sentence. No mate its a People Mover and all seasons are a good compromise!

Re chains - Looking at the owners manual, they indicate:

"Snow chains must only be mounted on thefront wheels, even on all-wheel drive vehicles, and only with the tyre and rim combina-tions listed below:

205/60/R16


Our wheels are 225/50/17's. The manual goes on to say:

SEAT recommends you ask a technical serv-ice for further information on wheel, tyre and chain sizes.Wherever possible use fine-link chains measuring less than 15 mm (37/64 inch) includ-ing the lock. Remove wheel hub covers and trim rings be-fore fitting snow chains should be covered with caps for safety rea-sons. These are available from technical serv-ices. Snow chains are available in different sizes according to vehicle types

All in all I am confused so may just ask an expert


If you don't get anything immediately definitive I've a couple of sets that size and used on VAG vehicles that you could try to assess in practice, that's if you're anywhere near me (SW 19 postal area) generally they'll be easily clear of obstruction with a 9mm chain link size on these vehicles.
If you put your hand over the inside top of tire at about 12 o'clock position, then that's the the closest point of tire and suspension to give you some guidance.

The offer's there if you get stuck and you'd at least get a practical run of installation if you've not tried before.


Thanks for that I'm in SW14 so we are practically neighbours!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
DJL wrote:
Basically a valley drive in the spring followed by 10km up a steep hill. No need to drive round the resort?

You should be OK with normal summer tyres and a pair of snow socks in the boot. Even if you get a snowy snap they should get you up and down the hill, then it’s a valley drive in the spring back home. They’ll probably stay in the boot.


That was kind of what I was thinking, but lets face it weather in the mountains is changeable and this year it snowed pretty heavily that week.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@FrediKanoute My interpretation of your Owners Manual is that no, you can't fit standard chains to your wheels. The usual reason for his will be that your wheels are lower-profile and larger, and will not leave enough room behind the tyre for conventional chain assemblies to rotate safely. The danger would be they'll foul the suspension, and/or brake pipes and/or steering. If you still need to still fit chains, then that would leave you with the option of the more expensive front-fitting chains like the Spike Spiders as the only viable alternative.

Plenty of people will tell you that chains are highly unlikely to be needed at a particular resort and/or early/late in the season. Which isn't the same as absolutely not needed.

You can't really properly test out whether you can ignore the car manufacturer's guidelines and get away with using chains against their directive because (a) just fitting them passively isn't the same as actually driving the car on a mountain road in the snow with the steering and suspension actively operating and (b) what if the test fails? i.e. you try them on, and take a short drive (say, on a gravel or sandy surface) to test them out, and they get wrapped 'round the brake pipes/suspension/driveshaft and cause damage.

So I think your idea of asking your garage for their professional opinion is a good one. They then carry the liability for the veracity and consequences of their advice, as opposed to some anonymous person on a Web Forum.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@FrediKanoute, Think I would go with snow socks and your current tyres.

I drive a Mondeo which has the same wheel options as your bus. I have 205/60/R16 winter tyres on steel rims and 225 summer tyres on the standard alloys.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
LaForet wrote:
@FrediKanoute My interpretation of your Owners Manual is that no, you can't fit standard chains to your wheels. The usual reason for his will be that your wheels are lower-profile and larger, and will not leave enough room behind the tyre for conventional chain assemblies to rotate safely. The danger would be they'll foul the suspension, and/or brake pipes and/or steering. If you still need to still fit chains, then that would leave you with the option of the more expensive front-fitting chains like the Spike Spiders as the only viable alternative.

Plenty of people will tell you that chains are highly unlikely to be needed at a particular resort and/or early/late in the season. Which isn't the same as absolutely not needed.

You can't really properly test out whether you can ignore the car manufacturer's guidelines and get away with using chains against their directive because (a) just fitting them passively isn't the same as actually driving the car on a mountain road in the snow with the steering and suspension actively operating and (b) what if the test fails? i.e. you try them on, and take a short drive (say, on a gravel or sandy surface) to test them out, and they get wrapped 'round the brake pipes/suspension/driveshaft and cause damage.

So I think your idea of asking your garage for their professional opinion is a good one. They then carry the liability for the veracity and consequences of their advice, as opposed to some anonymous person on a Web Forum.


Thanks and I am leaning in this direction. The way I look at it is that if we have to get chains we get a decent set of chains and then keep the car for 10 years and make use of them. If we use them once in 10 years its an insurance policy.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
FrediKanoute wrote:

The way I look at it is that if we have to get chains we get a decent set of chains and then keep the car for 10 years and make use of them. If we use them once in 10 years its an insurance policy.


..............and you can get some money back when you no longer need them or change car. At least one of the specialist snowchain sellers used to have a trade-in policy of 50% for unused chains originally bought from them against a new set. I've sold an old unused set on Ebay and one in the 2nd hand section here.
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