4wd's may need chains on ski resorts soon, even Hummers

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:05
ThreadID: 64853 Views:5139 Replies:5 FollowUps:21
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Hi everyone

I live fairly close to the Lake Mountain ski resort in Victoria and a friend from a ski shop told me that the Lake Mountain bosses have got a bit of a problem.

These days, there’s so many different AWD (all wheel drive) and 4wd cars and at the moment, you don’t need chains even if you’ve got an AWD, but there’s still a lot of AWD cars that can’t handle the snow and ice, like Subaru Impreza’s. They’ve considered saying that AWD cars need chains and 4wd cars don’t, but there’s an awful lot of AWD cars that the manufacturers have put 4wd on, like the old Subaru’s, the RAV 4 says, ‘Full time 4wd,” all over it, that sort of thing and a lot of people with AWD cars like to say that they’ve got 4wd cars, because they’ve got drive going to 4 wheels. When the snow and ice is bad, they’re always getting people running off the road, getting stuck and accidents to.

With this problem, they’re considering making it compulsory for everyone to have chains, even if you’ve got a Hummer. I heard a while ago that Mt Buller was thinking about the same thing, but with all the fancy legal stuff, they couldn’t. I’ve been up to Lake Mountain in a Subaru Impreza before, and not only did I put chains on the front and rear, I let the tyres down and if I go there in my GQ, seen as I don’t have to worry about popping a tyre at low speeds on bitumen with a bit of snow, I let my tyres right down to about 10 PSI.

Hopefully it doesn't go ahead and if it does, hopefully it's just Lake Mountain and not the others
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Reply By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:10

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:10
It is my understanding that all vehicles travelling through/in gazetted Alpine areas are required to CARRY chains at all times. They are not always required to fit them, unless directed to do so by the appropriate signs.

Am I mistaken?

Cheers,

Mark
AnswerID: 342876

Follow Up By: bucky00 - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:22

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:22
I don't know about other mountains, but Lake Mountain 4wd's don't even have to carry them. A lot of ski shops in the area don't even stock chains for four wheel drives, they say because otherwise, four wheel drivers would take them into the bush on tracks, and the ski shops don't want them doing that.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stuart W (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:24

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:24
You're not mistaken Mark. I was down at Hotham and Falls Ck in July 08 and it was mandatory to carry chains. I had to hire some.
Stuart
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Follow Up By: bucky00 - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:30

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 16:30
Lake Mountain must be different to the others than, maybe because it's lower and they don't get as much snow. I used to think that they were all basically the same.
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Reply By: bucky00 - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:07

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:07
I've just done my homework, and Lake Mountain, at the moment you don't need chains on the 4wd or an AWD, but other mountains you do. My appologies for how I described it all people but I've never been anywhere but Lake Mountain and thought that they were all basically the same, but Lake Mountain may not be like this for much longer.
AnswerID: 342884

Reply By: Crackles - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:21

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:21
Any 4x4 or AWD that relies on traction control to engage all four wheels should fit chains as a precaution as most systems get confused when wheels start to spin applying the brakes to each in turn eventually running out of power. I have a video of a twin turbo V8 diesel Range Rover in snow under full acceleration run out of power as the traction control applied the brakes! Not until the system was turned off (something many brands can't do) did it get up the hill. Likewise any 4x4 that runs road pattern tyres should also fit chains as they may be able to get going but would have no better chance of stopping in an emergency than a 2WD.
I know Mt Buller were looking at having AWD's fit chains at the same time as 2WD's but with the endless variety of 4x4 & traction systems it possibly all got too hard.
I have my doubts letting your tyres down to 10 PSI to drive up to Alpine resorts serves any real benefit. Those I know that live on the mountains certainly don't drop them below 25 instead choosing to fit relatively narrow tyres with a fine all terrain pattern to bite into the snow & ice instead of floating on top. 8 to 10 PSI I have found is only required for deep snow (Over 500mm) when you need the car to sit up on top.
Cheers Craig................
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Follow Up By: bucky00 - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:28

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:28
I don't know who to believe on the smaller footprint dig down theory or the bigger footprint better traction and buoyancy theory, I'll consider what you said, thanks. I asked a four wheel driver trainer a year or so ago, and he told me right down is better.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stuart W (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:44

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:44
If you watch the World rally cars on the snow they go for the skinny tyres.
Stuart
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Follow Up By: bucky00 - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:49

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:49
Thanks guys, I'll give it a try having them a little higher if you think so.
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 18:08

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 18:08
In fresh snow lower tyre pressures can give increased traction but on compacted snow or ice (Alpine resort roads) a higher pressure is better & possibly a reason why one rarely sees anyone (including locals) ever reduce tyre pressures on a snow covered sealed road.
Depending on the tyre type (& if bead lockers are fitted) 15 psi is generally as low as I'd go offroad in snow except of course as mentioned above when it's very deep which requires floatation.
Below is a 3 tonne Cruiser at 8 psi sitting on 1.5 metres of snow.

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Follow Up By: bucky00 - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 18:15

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 18:15
Thanks for your advice, I'll give it a try. I just thought a four wheel driver trainer would know, and that's why the once I went there in my car, I had them at 10 PSI on my 285/75/16 BFG Muds. I confirmed with him that it was ice and snow, not just snow and he said both.
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Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 19:29

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 19:29
When using chains I would NOT reduce tyre pressure as I want the chains to be tight. Flexing tyres lead to chains flaying around and could take out brake lines. Let the chains do the griping and not the tyres would be my advice.
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 19:52

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 19:52
"I want the chains to be tight"
I was taught that after fitting your chains you should be able to just slide your hand under the cross links, (neither tight nor loose) this way each time the chain comes around the snow & ice is flicked off avoiding any build up. Appears nothing is black & white when it come to snow driving with many theories floating around :-)
Cheers Craig......
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Reply By: pt_nomad - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:21

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 17:21
bucky

The nsw RTA have been making noises also, their approach is more about the tyres rather than 4WD v AWD.
http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/rulesregulations/downloads/snowlegislation.pdf
Paul.
AnswerID: 342888

Follow Up By: DCTriton - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 19:30

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 19:30
Interesting article... So what is a "winter" tyre...??? No definition exists in the article - my stock Bridgestone D840 come with information stating they are suitable for use in mud and snow yet they are simply a HT design with extra tread depth and I wouldn't ever entertain the idea of heading to the snow with them on...
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Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:01

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:01
A 'winter tyre' should not be confused with a 'snow tyre'. :-))

I would suggest that a winter tyre is being touted as good for pumping water away from the tread footprint.

A snow tyre 'could' have lots of little holes in the tread blocks where you can screw in little studs (a bit like football boots but smaller). The tread should also have self cleaning attributes so that they can sling off compacted snow from between the lugs just like mud tyres.
.
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Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:59

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:59
Winter treads used to be all the go in the days before 4wd / awd became common as " family " vehicles / daily drivers.

From memory they were a 13" or 14" version of the now common " all terrain tyre " in a mild pattern.. Someone might have a better memory regarding them. Gave a bit of grip but the treads cleared more easily than highway pattern.

Chuck a set on the VW and go just about everywhere a flash 4b will go today. Chains were a good thing as they provided grip in the slush that tracks in the snowy turned into - In the days prior to the miles of bitumen that has a bigger " black ice " problem than dirt tracks.

Rule of thumb for fitting chains back then was a firm fit - so the chain would bite in for traction.
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Follow Up By: DCTriton - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 03:39

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 03:39
G'day Kiwi... I figured most MT's would pass as snow tyres due to the manufactured holes for screw in studs and although the Federal muds on my 2nd set of rims doesn't have allowance for studs, they perform exceptionally well in snow...

I've been googling but can't find a "winter" tyre unless i go to international servers where studded tyres are classified as "winter" tyres - do we all now need to carry a cordless drill and 1,000 tek-screws to the alpine regions...lol
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Follow Up By: pt_nomad - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 06:41

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 06:41
page 9 of the article has a pic of a logo that would be moulded on the side of the tyre 'International standard logo for conforming winter tyres'
I think my old Disco tyres had this logo, my current tyres have m+s on the side but not the depicted logo.
Paul.
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Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 07:05

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 07:05
Hi DCTriton, I wonder what Mr Plod would say if you drove past with the sound of a couple of hundred tek screws going "tik tik tik' on the tarmac ? Are they legal in Oz ? I know that in Oregon they have be off the road by a certain date or you will be ticketed.
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Follow Up By: DCTriton - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 16:56

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 16:56
pt-nomad:

I just downloaded it again - I don't have page 9, finishes half way down page 8 :(


Kiwi:

Got no idea on legalities, just entertaining myself on night shift...lol Get some titanium tek screws and watch the sparks fly when you corner - the reality is we wouldn't start any more fires than the DSE do anyway...

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Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 19:22

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 19:22
Now that's an idea.....
Anew form of bling, better then those flashing / spinning whel trims :-))
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Reply By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 21:33

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 21:33
I don't mean to sound cocky here, but in a previous life, I spent about 10-12 weeks of the year for 5 years straight in winter camped in the snow in the High Country, around the Licola, Snowy Plains area and I'm of the variety that carries chains REGARDLESS.

On the Tamboritha Rd one year the road iced over in one shortish downhill section very badly and it would not have mattered what sort of tyres you had, there was NO traction. I know this as I came down the road at a VERY slow pace, using the engine braking of the diesel, got down to about 5kph, but could not stop. The troopy was just continually (slowly) sliding. It felt quite wierd and like slow motion. I had absolutely no control and ended up 'bumping' another car that had slid off into the ditch on the side of the road.

Image Could Not Be Found

Anyone who doesn't carry chains into alpine areas, "because they have a 4WD" is fooling themselves or has little real experience. In my opinion, it is academic whether it is the law or not, chains SHOULD be carried in these sorts of conditions as the weather can change very quickly causing very strange road conditions.

I currently have 2 sets of chains which get carried into the high country whenever I go there, summer of winter. Not often needed, but when they are.....well.... say no more.

Like most, I hate fitting the wretched things, but it's better than the alternative.

Cheers,

Mark
AnswerID: 342951

Follow Up By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 21:38

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 21:38
A Summer Photo at the Arbuckle Ski Loop in December.........


Image Could Not Be Found

Cheers,

Mark

Ps Sorry 'bout the ugly mug...
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Follow Up By: Wazza - (Vic) - Saturday, Jan 10, 2009 at 23:04

Saturday, Jan 10, 2009 at 23:04
Mark,

Would not have mattered what tyres you had on trying to look out that windscreen. Haha.

Wazza.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Saturday, Jan 10, 2009 at 23:50

Saturday, Jan 10, 2009 at 23:50
Would you believe there was a solar panel on the windscreen at the time....probably not doing too much I imagine!??!?!?

Cheers,

Mark
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