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  1. Default Los Angeles to Spokane in January, three college girls

    My daughter wants to drive her car out to Gonzaga for the Spring semester and my wife and I are concerned about the safety issues with this thought process. Interested to know just how tough the highways can be in January with the potential of inclement weather. Her friends have driven in snow etc but she is a cali girl. Will chains be a certainty? Is it two lane type of freeways? How desolate would the drive be?
    I appreciate any thoughts, comments or recommendations

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    Welcome!

    Chains will not be a certainty, but she needs to have a set with her and know how to put them on and take them off. You should be able to buy a set of inexpensive cables at Walmarts in SoCal. Once you are out of the LA basin, the freeways are almost all 2 lanes each direction, that's the norm in rural areas everywhere. Unless you encounter construction, there will never be just a single lane.

    I would take I-5 to Portland. Check the weather and road conditions through the Siskiyous in northern CA and southern OR. This will be the most likely place where chains may be needed. From Portland, take I-84 through the Columbia River valley to I-82, then take that to US-395 and go through Kennewick and Pasco. US-395 from there to I-90 might as well be a freeway, it's multilane with very few cross roads and the speed limit is 70 almost all the way.

    You should insist that she take 3 days for the drive and do not drive after dark. I'd plan on overnight stops between Sacramento and Redding - I can recommend the Best Western at Willows, I've stayed there - and somewhere around Portland. I can NOT recommend the Motel 6 in Portland - it's in a pretty run-down area.

    If she is going to be in Spokane for school, it may be wise to put a new set of snow-rated tires on her car. Today's snow tires are not like they were in the "old days" - they run quiet and can be run all year. I have a set of Michelin Latitude X-Ice on my pickup truck, and I actually like them better than my summer tires on the highway!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Just in case.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    Chains will not be a certainty, but she needs to have a set with her and know how to put them on and take them off. You should be able to buy a set of inexpensive cables at Walmarts in SoCal
    I would also recommend that she practices putting them on before leaving. Getting them out of the packet for the first time in a blizzard wouldn't be fun, hopefully she won't have to. If the weather deteriorates that much, she should already be looking for a safe haven, such as a service area or Motel until it passes and the road crews have done their job. The most important thing is for her not to be tempted to "push on" through poor conditions and have the time available not to have too.

    Before she leaves you will be able to get up to the minute forecasts and road conditions and draw up a 'battle plan' if needed, hopefully it will be plain sailing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    303

    Default

    I'll give another enthusiastic vote for having her actually put the chains on. (I'd suggest doing the 'changing a tire drill' at the same time. And maybe all the lug nuts should be loosened and retightened to be sure they aren't rusted stuck and will work with the car's lug wrench.)

    I'm an old guy, a car self-repair guy and because I am planning a trip to the NW (from Colorado) I am going to practice putting my chains on my vehicle this weekend. I'm old enough to have failed enough times at 'winging it' that now I plan ahead so things go smoothly. I haven't tried putting chains on in 10 years so it's time for a refresher. Hopefully that'll ensure I won't actually need them! :-)

    BTW- be sure the car is properly winterized. Spokane can be COLD in the winter. To me this means hoses and belts less than 4 years old, new wipers, fresh winter-grade washer fluid, battery less than 4 years old (less than 2 would be much better), battery connections recently cleaned, good tire tread depth and anti-freeze within the change interval and tested as good to -30F or below. (it can get that cold in Spokane) Everyone involved would feel really, really stupid to have the engine block freeze and crack because of dilute coolant.

    For my own trip I've made up a spreadsheet of towns and hotels and their phone numbers along the way so that finding shelter from an unexpected storm is a LOT easier on the fly if needed. (This level of planning is only for the truly paranoid.)
    Last edited by noFanofCB; 12-01-2010 at 08:51 AM. Reason: minor touchups

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    And maybe all the lug nuts should be loosened and retightened to be sure they aren't rusted stuck and will work with the car's lug wrench.)
    With today's wheels and hubs, the retightening needs to be done with a torque wrench as soon as possible. This has become quite critical.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    303

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    With today's wheels and hubs, the retightening needs to be done with a torque wrench as soon as possible. This has become quite critical.
    Yes. Good catch. I was focusing on the getting-them-off part. This additional step would also be highly educational for the young lady to ensure she isn't oblivious to the things that her safety depends upon.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    303

    Default

    Chains! Oh my!

    I got my chains out this afternoon on a pleasant 60 degree afternoon in the sunshine.
    I studied the chains while they were laid out on the driveway then jacked up a rear wheel to make installation easier.

    I learned that there is one way to install them which is much better than another because there is quite tight clearance between the tire and the rear spring.

    I still may wind up having a link whack the spring but if I install the other way the captured closure mechanism would be doing the hitting and maybe tear up the chains.

    I used orange survey marker tape to mark both ends of the inboard part of each chain so I know what I'm doing in the dark/snow/wind when I really need them.

    There is NO SUBSTITUTE for actually installing them for test.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    I think I'd much rather deal with cable chains.

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