Well ok, not everybody in sunny Southern CA needs to think about snow. I happen to live in the mountains, and so it is a factor for me. I thought I’d share my recent thoughts & discoveries in this area as ski season approaches. Every year, we get “flatlanders” who drive up the hill woefully unprepared to deal with snow. They drive rear-wheel cars with low clearance, and don’t bring chains or anything! Needless to say, the roads are a mess with people stuck and blocking the road for no good reason other than their own lack of preparedness.
My primary vehicle is a Toyota Prius. This is a great car, but not well suited for snow. The biggest problem with it is low ground clearance. I can put chains on it and it does well, but since it’s so low, the front spoiler/bumper gets torn up plowing the snow in between the wheel ruts. My solution was to buy a cheap 4WD vehicle and put snow tires on it. That’s really nice because 99% of the time you aren’t required (and don’t need) chains, you just drive on through the checkpoints and don’t have to sweat it. Still, I keep chains in the Prius just in case I end up needing them.
When we first moved up the hill, I wanted chains I could very quickly put on and take off, as I’d be doing that twice daily. After some research, I found Spikes Spiders. These are really great:You install “hub rings” on your wheels. When you want to put the chains on, you shove the plastic thing (above) over the tire, and the black disc with the red handle in the center locks them in place with a twist. I can install these on both wheels, without moving the car or laying out chains, get back in and drive off in literally less than a minute. Other folks with chains and cables are still untangling them and laying them out – it’s quite amusing to see their faces. Removal is just as quick. Unlock the hub, pull them off the wheels, then back the car up a couple of feet and they fall off.
The big drawback with these is price. They are expensive (for the sport model I need, about $550 per set – ouch). Traction isn’t as good as chains, admittedly, but it’s good enough for my needs. I never had traction problems with these installed. They’ve been through several seasons and the links are wearing very thin, so I was thinking about what to do about that. Their website offers parts, but these parts aren’t cheap either. So, that makes me look around to see what else is out there.
I came across two products which seem easy and fast to install and remove, and also have the additional feature that you can use them on multiple cars with different tire sizes!
I also like their claims of low vibration. Spikes Spiders rattle the car (and your teeth) a LOT when you are driving on anything but deep snow.
This appears to be an Italian company also, and they don’t have distribution in the US, but they are willing to ship. They quoted me € 180,00 per set, and € 95,00 FedEx shipping to the USA. (roughly $374 – dirt cheap compared to a new set of Spiders)