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Old 10-01-2007, 11:04 AM
 
3 posts, read 37,620 times
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I just moved here, originally from Florida, but most recently from N. Dakota. I am familiar with driving in the snow. But I have never driven through mountains with snow. In a few weeks (middle of October) I will be driving from Portland to Bend to visit grandma with my two little girls. Yes, I am the momma. I have many reservations about this drive. Being from the sea level Florida I am not used to the heights of the mountains which makes me a little nervous. The second is that I don't have any chains for my vehicle. One, I don't know if I have the money to afford them (not sure what the price range for them). I have a Honda odyssey which has "traction controlled steering" that engages when one wheel starts to slip. My sister who lives in Bend also, tells me she has some extra chains that might fit my van. Two, I don't have a clue how to put them on. Now, my question is you think its completely unsafe for me to take this trip through the Cascades? I love it here in Oregon! But I am fully aware that unprepared people get lost in these beautiful big trees! I have a started making a kit for my car with blankets, jumper cables, food, water, matches, flashlight, first aid kit, etc. Is there any other tips or suggestions?
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Old 10-01-2007, 02:31 PM
 
Location: The beautiful Rogue Valley, Oregon
7,785 posts, read 17,058,951 times
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The drive from Portland to Bend is pretty much "main" highway - it's not some two-lane dirt track, so while it's very good to have all those preparations in case of car problems or unexpected weather, you're not likely to get stranded somewhere. There are stretches where it's just the road and the forest, so gas up ahead and prepare for that.

In the metro area, find a tire dealer who carries tire chains, and during a relatively slow time, go in, tell them you need chains, and that you've never put them on before. I'm sure they'll show you how to put them on and explain the ins-and-outs of driving with them, as long as you don't pick a time when they are otherwise swamped with work.

I realize that tire chains are an expense, but the road between Portland and Bend is often snowed over (although it's usually well-plowed and sanded when it does). Most of the pass roads REQUIRE that you carry chains and be prepared to put them on if the road conditions require it, and it's a hefty ticket if you get caught without. Tire chains can be required a couple of times a year in the Portland area as well - we can get short ice/snow storms, and you might need them to get around. The other option is to buy approved snow tires for your car, which is far more expensive and not a necessity in the Portland metro area.
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Old 10-01-2007, 02:44 PM
 
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Thank you, PNW Girl, for your info. Do you think I can get to Bend in two weeks without having the chains? I know there may be getting snow in the higher elevations.
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Old 10-01-2007, 05:06 PM
 
Location: The beautiful Rogue Valley, Oregon
7,785 posts, read 17,058,951 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipcurtiss View Post
Thank you, PNW Girl, for your info. Do you think I can get to Bend in two weeks without having the chains? I know there may be getting snow in the higher elevations.
If there is snow on the road (and this time of year it's likely in the passes), you'll see signs requiring you to chain up. If you don't, and get caught, I think the fine is $250 - far more than a set of chains.

You can push your luck by checking the ODOT site for pictures of the passes, and making sure the pass is clear of snow before you start out. Try to hit the top of the pass around 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

ODOT Trip Check click on the little camera symbol for pictures of the passes.
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Old 10-02-2007, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,296 posts, read 15,316,711 times
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A good set of chains will cost about $60. Go to a tire company and they will show you how to install them. The modern chains are much easier to install than the old style. You won't have to stretch full length in the snow to install them, but you will have to at least kneel in the snow. Take along some plastic to protect your clothes. PNW snow can be of the very wet variety.

Check the owner's manual of your car. My sister drives a car that will not accept tire chains, because there is no room in the wheel well. That car stays home in bad weather.

Check your tires. If you have all-season radials with good tread, and a front wheel drive car, you will be OK in most situations. If you have rear wheel drive, an old PNW winter trick is to put about 300 lbs. of sand bags in the trunk. You can buy sand at lumber yards or building supply stores. If you get stuck, the sand will give you traction on ice.
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:51 AM
 
Location: Oregon Coast
1,848 posts, read 3,913,828 times
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Isn't it the Les Schwab Tire Stores that, if you puchase snow chains from them and don't use them, you can return them at the end of the snow season and get your money back? Seems like I remember hearing this someplace. Might be worth checking in to.
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Old 10-06-2007, 02:11 AM
 
Location: Southern Oregon
112 posts, read 677,154 times
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Yes, at least that was the advertisement last year. If you bought chains or cables at Les Schwab last winter and didn't use them, or open them, they would accept them and refund you the price in full. I've never done it, so I'm not sure if it would work or not. Let me give you some advice on the drive and snow driving, and hopefully you find it useful. I have a Honda Accord, 4 door. Last winter I took it on Hwy 58 in January to go skiing. It handled great. I didn't have chains but I did have new tires. (Not snow tires, and no studs) I have been driving in snow for years, so I'm not recommending that you go out and chance it, but I am saying that even in the middle of winter, the highways were groomed and kept up well enough for me to make it safely to my destination and back in a 4 door sedan without chains. October is typically a safe time to drive over the passes, although we have had snow down to the 3000 ft level over the past week. I'd check the weather, and check the road conditions at the Trip check website. I'd put the link up, but it will be taken down by a site moderator, so google Oregon road conditions or Oregon Trip check and you should find it. If the weather looks like it will cooperate, and the trip check says the highways you're taking are clear, you should be fine, depending on how long you're staying in Bend. If you're staying longer than a week, you might want to have the chains on hand just incase the weather gets worse for your return trip.

Overall, give yourself plenty of time to get there in daylight, increase your following distance, and don't make any sudden quick movements such as stomping on your breaks, quick acceleration, or jerking on the steering wheel. Also give yourself extra time to stop. Hope you have a great trip!
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Old 10-06-2007, 08:54 AM
 
41 posts, read 161,529 times
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Do they require you to carry chains if you have 4 wheel drive?
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Old 10-06-2007, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,296 posts, read 15,316,711 times
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Yes, at times all vehicles are required to use chains. People expect this on state highways across the Cascades, but it also happens from time to time on I-5 across the Siskiyous. Four wheel drive helps you go, but you can't turn or stop any better than a two wheel drive vehicle.

I have one Jeep with very aggressive tread and studs that has saved me from having to chain up a couple times, though. The tires are noisy and give lousy mileage, but combined with electronic traction control, they will take me just about anywhere that I don't sink in past the hubs.

ODOT maintains a web page on tire chain requirements:

TripCheck - Road Cams, Road & Weather Conditions in Oregon - ODOT
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