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  1. Default Snow Chains and Driving Solo..

    Hi, I Google searched and found this great forum and discussion thread. You regulars on this site are simply amazing!

    I am also looking into the feasibility of taking a one-way road trip from NJ to Sacramento area to soak in the sights - around the same dates, beg-mid Jan as Menosolso, on a 2 yr-old 4-cyl Honda Accord. I have two questions and expert advice would be much appreciated.

    - I would take I-80 all the way and have the flexibility to do this over 7-9 days. However, I have never used snow chains. Are they expensive? How difficult are they to set up? Would an auto shop or gas station be able to help me, en route?

    - I am also considering driving alone for a portion or all of the trip if my husband is unable to join me. Would that be recommended during this season? I am thinking it would help if he accompanied me over the Nevada portion? Any other trouble spots I should have company?

    Thanks in advance!

    Best regards

    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 11-24-2008 at 03:16 PM. Reason: We prefer to start new threads for questions about new trips!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Fewer Fears - More Fun

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First off, a RoadTrip from New Jersey to California is absolutely feasible. People do it every day. Your Accord should certainly be up to the task and with your time frame, you can have a very enjoyable drive with time available to see several sights that may appeal to you. While you would certainly enjoy your husband's company over any portion of this trip, there is absolutely no part of it that you can't do on your own either. Just have a good collection of CDs or tapes for you stereo system.

    Now, to the subject of chains, which has come up quite a bit lately. I have done considerable driving in snow, sleet and ice and I have never used chains. I think that they give a false sense of security. Any time I have come up against a requirement for them, I have long passed my comfort zone for being on the road. With the time available to you, I think you'd be better off just taking a day off from driving and let the road crews clear the highway. If you do decide to get them, cable chains are relatively low cost and easy to install. Just take the time to practice putting them on in warm dry weather a few times. Sure, you can get a mechanic to put them on for you but at a considerable cost in both time and money.


  3. Default

    Chains are pretty self explanatory in the instructions. Being cold, wet, etc trying to put them on is another thing.

    If you've got the time and you do hit bad weather, I would suggest stopping for the night.

    I agree with the AZBuck about the false sense of security. For the most part, chains will never be needed. The only time I've put chains on my car was climbing Lookout Pass in a snowstorm. For the most part, drive slow, extra slow, and you should be fine.

    Remember, though, some areas require you carry chains. I believe Nevada requires you to carry them from Nov-Mar each winter, or have snow tires on the vehicle. If so, you at least have to have a box of them.

    You can get them for around $20-$50, depending on the vehicle. You only need, for a car, one set for your drive tires. Make sure you try them out. Last thing you want is to be on the side of the road in a snowstorm and find out your chains are too small.

    Other things, if you do put them on, obey the speed limitations. No faster than 30mph. And make sure you're driving on something other than concrete/blacktop. If the snow/ice ends, take them off. Also make sure there's snug, but not digging into your sidewalls. I got minor 'brush burn' on the side of my one tire from them being too tight (but nothing more severe than cosmetic 'etchings' on the sides).

    But, when in doubt, pull it over and wait for the road crews to take care of it.

    Just remember, a lot of western states don't salt or ash their roads. Wyoming doesn't, they just plow. Mostly because salt doesn't work at the temperatures Wyoming can get too. And you can't ash, because that'd be a lot of ash for 402 miles of I-80.


  4. Default Thanks!

    Hi AzBuck, Pscyotyk, Great advice, thanks. The chains would be a bit daunting if I drove alone.

    What would be the roughest terrains on I-80 between NJ and CA? Only the Nevada/Utah area?

    Thanks again, Best wishes

  5. #5

    Default Winter driving


    Your trip is certainly feasible. You are wise to be concerned about driving conditions, but don't worry excessively about them. You have a good car and it sounds like you are taking steps to be ready for your trip.

    With a longer, flexible schedule like yours, you can watch the Weather Channel and check the internet for storm systems ahead. Consider rerouting, slowing down, or just taking a day off if you are worried about conditions. Better to take a little longer to get there safely.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you do buy a set of chains, I believe the only type that you can put on an Accord is "cable" chains. Old school link chains will probably be too harsh and have wheelwell clearance issues. If you are relocating to California, I'd recommend you buy a set anyway - if you ever want to take a weekend or even a day trip up into the mountains in the winter, you may be turned away without them when chain controls are in effect.

    EDIT: From an economic and convenience standpoint, you could wait till you get into an area that has chain laws, then buy a set if you feel it's necessary, depending on current conditions. Walmarts in chain control states generally carry them at a considerably lower price than if you were to order a set from an auto parts store before you leave. I've even seen them in San Diego area Walmarts. Just make sure you practice putting them on in the parking lot before you find a situation where you would have to do it for real in bad weather.
    Last edited by glc; 11-25-2008 at 09:12 AM.

  7. #7

    Default No highly rugged terrain until the NV/CA border

    Quote Originally Posted by esbeetoo View Post
    Hi AzBuck, Pscyotyk, Great advice, thanks. The chains would be a bit daunting if I drove alone.

    What would be the roughest terrains on I-80 between NJ and CA? Only the Nevada/Utah area?

    Thanks again, Best wishes
    Hello esbeetoo,

    The I-80 route is the least "alpine" crossing of the Rockies I know of. That said, there are high elevation (5,000 to 6,500' or so) segments of high plains and butte/mesa country along I-80 all the way from just west of Cheyenne, WY all the way into Utah. The elevation is more important than the exact terrain so a close look ahead via Weather Channel,, and/or the Wyoming DOT webcams is a good idea. Figure on a stop by Cheyenne and get access to a TV or a computer and look ahead for up to the minute existing and forecast conditions and you'll avoid driving into short-term hassles ahead of you.

    From reading and map analysis, the NV section is mostly lower elevation basin terrain with a small handful of fairly low passes. The Big Enchilada is the NV/CA border at Donner Pass, where you pass through the Sierra Nevada, just before Sacremento.

    Do yourself a favor and look at a Utah highway atlas for info on where I-80 enters Utah. I favor leaving I-80 at Echo, UT, in favor of I-84 to Ogden, thence south on I-15 to the I-215 loop around Salt Lake City (SLC). That will join you back up to I-80 on the western edge of SLC and more importantly bypass the high pass named Parley's Summit between SLC and Park City along I-80. The Ogden route is a few miles farther but stays much lower than the 7,500' crest at Parley's, with resulting far better weather.

    The snow removal work by WY and UT DOT crews is impressive. Logic suggests the same for the NV and CA folks. I-80 is an economic lifeline and it's not allowed to be in poor shape for long. I've observed blizzard conditions at Parley's Summit many times over the last 8 years or so and it never stays bad more than a few hours at a time.

    Have a safe and enjoyable trip.


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