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Snow chains for rental cars

PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:32 pm
by archive
Snow chains
Author: Troy Turner (
Date: 11-15-05 17:25


should hire car companys supply chains for my journey to yosemite?

last year i had to pay $150.00 for my chains for the 2 day visit, then i had to dump the chains........................

I visited from England last year and did not know about the chains...


Re: snow chains
Author: Dan Anderson (
Date: 11-15-05 21:55

It's cheaper to rent chains from the rental car dealer than buy chains. If you buy chains, buy them in the city, not in the foothill towns, where the price zooms up.

There are the cheaper "snow cables" that work almost as well as chains and are a lot cheaper. They don't work on solid ice very well, just fresh snow or slush.

You probably don't need them if you stay in the Valley and come in the All-weather Highway from the west (Highway 140 along the Merced River). However you still are required to have them in Winter and early spring and you may be turned away if you don't have them or fined if you make it in the park and don't have them.

Re: snow chains
Author: Des Leverton (
Date: 12-09-05 10:25


Are there any local rental car dealers ( Merced specifically ) whom you know of who actually supply chains? As a visitor from the UK this would be my preferred option - and would hopefully enable someone to show me how to put these things on!

My understanding is that car rental companies are not keen on the use of chains on their vehicles - some like Hertz are dead against it. Of course, as long as you dont damage the car, I guess they will never know.

We are travelling to Yosemite in the first week of April next year and would be very interested in your response ( or any suggestions )!

Thanks in Advance


Re: snow chains
Author: Dan Anderson (
Date: 12-09-05 11:28

Chain installers are on all highways into Yosemite, during the day and evening, when chain control is in progress.

Here's some notes on when chains are required (R1, R2, R3 designations),
written by a Scottish ex-pat:
I don't live near Merced, so I don't know the car rentals.
However, typing "car rental merced, california" in gives me a map of several places. Non-major rental companies seem to be:

* Aide Rent A Car
* A & A Auto Rentals (Hampton's Auto Wrecking)
* Smiley's Auto Sales & Car Rental (Atwater, north of Merced)

hire of cnow chains

PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:33 pm
by archive
Author: paul jakowski (
Date: 12-05-05 05:33

My wife and I are visiting Yosemite in mid February and are unsure about snow chains. I have heard that they are compulsory during winter months, is this true?

Also, the hire car company have said that, in the US, car hire companies will not hire snow chains, because the vehicles are fitted with snow tyres. Has anyone else heard of this? As i am from Wales(UK) have limited experience of driving in the snow. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Re: hire of snow chains
Author: Dan Anderson (
Date: 12-05-05 10:00

Yes, you must carry snow chains in winter, even if you have four-wheel drive.

The roads at higher elevations, although kept clear of snow except during storms, often are icy, especially at night and early morning.

The all-weather highway, 140, is the best as it's the lowest elevation and has little ice and snow. Same with roads in the Valley, which are only 4000' high.

The Tioga Road (eastern part of Highway 120) and Glacier Point road past the Badger Pass ski area are closed in winter.

Some people rent four wheel drive vehicles in winter. You can buy snow chains in the Valley before heading up the mountains (they cost less there). Licensed professional chain installers are at checkpoints on roads when chains are required (during/after storms). The dilemma is car rental companies don't allow chains on their cars. You probably don't need them IF you arrive by Highway 140 and stay in Yosemite Valley, but there's always a chance you do need them. Also, there's the problem of buying chains that you probably will never use and throwing them away after the trip.

An alternative is to take a commercial bus from San Francisco to Yosemite, such as (there's others, but that's the only one I know off-hand from San Francisco).

There's a free shuttle bus that goes in a loop around the eastern part of Yosemite Valley, and free ski busses that head to and from Yosemite Valley to Badger Pass ski area in winter.

Sorry I don't have a better answer about the chains.

Re: hire of snow chains
Author: paul (
Date: 12-13-05 09:12

Thanks for the info Dan, I'm hoping i will have to do very little driving by taking the shuttle bus to Badger Pass. Do you know if this service still operates?

Re: hire of snow chains
Author: Dan Anderson (
Date: 12-13-05 10:29

Yes, the shuttle bus has been operating since the early 1970s. It operates everyday of the year. The hours and frequency vary, but it's typically from 6 or 8 am to around 10 pm. Check the Yosemite Today newsletter you get whe n you enter the park or check-in. It's online at

The shuttle bus is free.

Re: hire of snow chains
Author: paul Jakowski (
Date: 12-15-05 09:42

Thanks Dan, I'm counting down the days until I arrive in the park. What are the chances of There being snow in the valley in mid February? and is it still busy that time of year?

Re: hire of snow chains
Author: Dan Anderson (
Date: 12-17-05 13:44

Chances of snow in the Valley is 100% in February. It's usually just on the south side, which is a lot colder than the north side of Yosemite Valley.

Except for Curry Village and most of the campgrounds, everything is on the North (warm) side of the valley. The major footpaths are kept free of snow.

It's not busy, except the Presidents Day holiday weekend (2nd monday in February).

Re: hire of snow chains
Author: Jan Phillips (
Date: 09-26-06 14:41

Hi Paul

I am having problems hiring a car in San Francisco to visit Yosemite in April next year and in desperation did a search and came up with your correspondence with Dan last year.

I wondered how you got on? Did you visit Yosemite and were you admitted into the park without chains?

We wanted to stay at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls but the hotel tell me we will not be admitted into the park without chains and the car hire people tell me I cannot put snow chains on a hire car.

My husband, 12 yr old son and I were so looking forward to Yosemite but at the moment I've reach stalemate and do not know what to do.

Any help or advice you could offer would be gratefully received.

Jan Phillips

Re: hire of snow chains
Author: Nagendra Srinivas (
Date: 12-13-06 18:18

We are visiting Yosemite on Dec 26th. Does anybody know of a place in the
valley (contact name/ phone/URL) where we can rent/buy snow chains. I
checked in PEPBOYS and they cost around $90 bucks !

Any help is GREATLY appreciated !


Tioga Pass and snow chain rental/purchase

PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:37 pm
by archive
Tioga Pass route to Yosemite in late October
Author: David Cawthra (
Date: 03-22-04 00:56

We live in UK and are taking a holiday in Western USA, taking in Yosemite, in late October 2004, starting in Las Vegas and finishing in San Francisco. We are travelling from Las Vegas via Death Valley to Yosemite and hope to take the Tioga Pass route (crossing on 29th October). We know that it closes between late October and November and that prior to departing Death Valley we should be able to find out whether the pass is or will be closed on 29th October.

What we are unsure about is whether, when the pass is still open, the journey to El Portal, where we are staying, might only be passable to vehicles using tire chains at this late time in October. We will have a 7 seater rental van, picked up in Las Vegas, and I think tire chains will be impractical. We don't want to get to Tioga and find that we are not equipped to complete the journey - it will screw up all of our hotel and lodge reservations! On the other hand we don't want to take the much longer and less interesting route to Yosemite if we don't need to.

Is there anyone with experience of Tioga pass who can give us some advice?

Re: Tioga Pass route to Yosemite in late October
Author: Dan Anderson (10.11.12.---)
Date: 03-28-04 22:13

Tioga Road will probably be still open in October. If the car rental agency doesn't provide tire chains, you can buy them in Mammoth or Lee Vining.

You can find out if tire chains is required by calling (toll-free in the US) 1-800-427-7623. Outside the US, +1-916-445-7623, or These numbers are recordings by the California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans). You can also call +1-209-372-0200 for Yosemite Road Information (US National Park Service).

You can also drive from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Tehachapi Pass (Highway 58) or Lake Isabella/Walker Pass (Highway 178) to the South if the Tioga Road is closed. This will take little or no extra time than Tioga Road (alghough not as scenic).

Re: Tioga Pass route to Yosemite in late October
Author: RK (
Date: 04-07-04 14:04

I would highly suggest having chains in the car just in case. if it does snow and you get caught in the snowbank, the police can and will ask you for your chains. if you don't have any, expect a big fine :/


Re: Tioga Pass route to Yosemite in late October
Author: The highwayman (
Date: 04-21-04 22:22

You're going to want to go to click on "forums" click on "message forum" and pose your question to "SL" [ sierra lady on the forum ] she is secretary for Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau [ day job ] and an avid forum member @ night [ a "treasure" of information ]

Re: Tioga Pass route to Yosemite in late October
Author: the San Diego Highwayman (
Date: 09-04-04 15:39

The "whether" will be entirely dependent on the "weather" ;)

Re: rental/purchase snow chains
Author: don (
Date: 01-15-06 07:45

we are driving from LA to Mammoth Lakes in Feb, in a 8 passager van, and understand we will need snow chains- where do we find them? Is there any place in Bishop to rent them?

Re: rental/purchase snow chains
Author: Dan Anderson (207.211.160.---)
Date: 01-17-06 09:54

You can't rent snow chains. The liability insurance on chain rental would exceed the cost of the chains.

You can buy them in Bishop at several gas stations and at the Big K (K-mart) at the north end of town.

You only need chains if the highways have not been cleared (usually during and just after a snow storm). You can visit the caltrans website at for current road conditions for any Highway (395 for Bishop/Mammoth).

Road to Yosemite and tire chains

PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:20 pm
by archive
Author: Janet (
Date: 03-24-05 12:23

Some friends and I will be visiting yosemite early April. Weather conditions look like it will be snowing during our drive there. Does anyone know if there's an area on the road to Yosemite (from San Francisco) where we could stop off and buy some chains and also have them put on for us? The road to Tahoe has this but not so sure about Yosemite. I was hoping weather conditions would be better by then and didnt have to buy chains for my car to carry up there.

Re: road to yosemite and tire chains
Author: Dan Anderson (
Date: 03-24-05 16:20

There are several stores with prominent signs stating they sell chains.

During storms, license installers are at the pullouts where chains are required.

It's too early to tell if you'll need them though.

Re: road to yosemite and tire chains
Author: Troy Turner (
Date: 10-27-05 16:29


watch out you do not actually get to yosemite without any chains, we are from England and did not have a clue where to get chains...

We got charged just inside the park a total of $200, but after the three days we were there i did not really care, because its such a wonderful place.


Have a great time and take care..


PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:59 pm
by kweller
Having spent a large part of the day trying to resolve this I'm beginning to think I'm on an impossible mission but...

We're visiting California for the fist time January '08 from the UK and Yosemite is (was?) on my must-see list.

Are there any car rental companies in the Carlsbad/San Diego area which allow the use of tire chains on their vehicles? I'm quite happy to buy the chains if I have to but Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise have all said I'm not allowed to fit them to any of their vehicles. Strangely the same companies seem to allow chains in parts of Europe. I'm awaiting a response from Dollar but I'm not hopeful.



PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:32 pm
by dan
kweller wrote:Are there any car rental companies in the Carlsbad/San Diego area which allow the use of tire chains on their vehicles? I'm quite happy to buy the chains if I have to but Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise have all said I'm not allowed to fit them to any of their vehicles. Strangely the same companies seem to allow chains in parts of Europe. I'm awaiting a response from Dollar but I'm not hopeful.

No car rental company will allow that--strange. You have to have chains to enter Yosemite National Park in winter. 90% of the time you don't have to use them. So, you have to carry them by park rules. You can't use them by auto rental rules. Chains can't be rented--they must be bought (usually from auto parts stores and stores in the mountains). Avoid driving when they are required (usually during and after a storm). You could risk not taking chains at all, but if you're caught without chains on a road where they are required, you are in trouble!

Free tips: AVOID Highways 41 and 120 and especially Glacier Point Road in winter. Take the low, drier, and warmer "All-weather Highway", Highway 140, through Merced, Mariposa, and El Portal to Yosemite Valley. See map Avoid early mornings and night when it gets icy. If you want to go to the Badger Pass Ski Area, take the free Skiers Bus that leaves multiple times in the morning from all the hotel areas. You don't even have to be a guest at the Yosemite Valley hotels.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:19 pm
by kweller
Thanks Dan. It appears that Hertz do not specifically preclude the use of chains in their terms and conditions although they state that any damage caused by chains will down to us not the insurers. That seems to be about the best we can do so we booked a 4x4 through Hertz.


Re: Snow chains for rental cars

PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:41 pm
by irshkur
We also have been in USA and some mountain traveling routes require to have chains, you don't necessarily have to set the on your wheels but they still check if you posses them.