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Snow wheel car rentals

Travelling to and visiting Yosemite National Park in Winter and most of Spring, when snow is on the ground. Includes visiting in winter, snow play, downhill and nordic skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and snow camping.

Moderators: Wickett, dan

Snow wheel car rentals

Postby OutOnAWeekend » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:50 pm

I know such a question would have been asked before, but would be great if someone could still answer it.

Two of us plan to visit Yosemite for a couple of days during Thanksgiving. The rules clearly state that the car must have snow wheels and yet I am unable to get any car rental company which says that they provide cars with snow wheels. I tried calling Budget but they said they provide 'all-season wheels' but not 'snow wheels'.

How do I got about this. Could anyone please give me suggestions on how to go about renting the right car? Which car rental to go to or where, etc.?
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Re: Snow wheel car rentals

Postby WanderingJim » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:38 pm

Try to find a 4x4 SUV. Can't be 100% sure, but those usually have more rugged threads and/or tires that would be called 'snow tires'. Either way, you'd still need to find some snow chains.You could be ticketed if you don't have them in the car. Badger pass may require 4x4 w/chains in particularly snowy weather, for example.

BTW, My Mustang doesn't have snow tires, and I drove it to Yosemite in the Winter twice last year. First time the roads were well cleared and didn't need chains to get around. Second time, I drove up to Badger Pass and needed the chains once past Bridalveil Falls.

I really should get a Wrangler again. I miss my old one at times like that.

But unless it's actually snowing, you may be able to get by with regular tires and snow chains. Depends on the road conditions and if you come in on 140 or one of the other entrances (if they are even open).

If you'd get pulled over or ticketed for not having snow tires, I don't know. Maybe if you get into an accident or get stuck they may ticket you, but I don't think they're checking every car. I may have been asked if I had chains at the entrance once (and I did), but was never asked about snow tires.
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Re: Snow wheel car rentals

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:23 pm

You don't need snow tires. Here is why.

California has three levels of chain restrictions.

Requirement 1 (R-1): Chains are required on all vehicles except passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks under 6,000 pounds gross weight and equipped with snow tires1 on at least two drive wheels. Chains must be carried by vehicles using snow tires. All vehicles towing trailers must have chains on one drive axle. Trailers with brakes must have chains on at least one axle.
Requirement 2 (R2): Chains or traction devices2 are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels. NOTE: (Four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
Requirement 3 (R3): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

Nowhere does it say you need snow tires. The only advantage would be that in the event they impose R2, you can get away with not having traction devices. What you need to carry in winter is chains or cables if the vehicle you are driving can't take chains. The appropriate sized chains or cables and practice putting them on and taking them off are what you should have -- a tarp and some work gloves help as does a jacket you don't care about getting messy, as it usually requires getting on the ground to fasten and tension the cables around the tires so they do not slip around or fall off.

We have had to help people put rented chains on a car before and then the people had to turn around and leave, because the rented chains were the wrong size. Taking the time to put the traction device on the car, drive it a short distance, and take them off, gives you practice and ensures that they are correctly sized, matching the label on the box, and won't put an untimely end to your trip, or trap you in the park because you have to put them on mid-trip and find that they aren't going to work.

Rental cars often prohibit you from putting cables on their cars, because improperly fitting traction devices will damage the car. Another reason to be sure they fit before you drive up into the park. If you're risking the wrath of the rental company, better be sure you aren't going to get cables wrapped around your axle or caught up in the undercarriage.
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Re: Snow wheel car rentals

Postby Phil » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:18 pm

Damn....a current post...

Practicing installing your chains/cables ahead of time in more favorable conditions is some of the most solid advice you'll get. The learning curve is much less steep when you're not grovelling on the side of the road in a foot of slush, tarp and trashable clothing or not.

And yes, most of the time roads are going to close altogether before they issue an R3 level restriction, simply because they'll be dealing with more spin outs and wrecks than keeping the road open is worth, and they can't plow fast enough to avoid all the chaos anyhow, so other vehicles just get in their way and slow the operations down even more. Caltrans might do it with their fleets of plows on major interstates, but the NPS doesn't have the same resources. If you can, rent an SUV that's actually 4WD. With an R2 restriction, you'll hit the chain control and they'll ask you or see if the vehicle is a 4x and wave you right through, even with less than some big knobby tires. Above all, go slow. Chains or 4 wheel drive, it's the people that go faster than the conditions call for that whiz past you only to be packed into a snowbank or in the ditch a couple miles down the road.

With a rental, check their chain policy, and if allowed, get the full damage waiver. Even properly installed chains can break and destroy a fender within minutes.
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Re: Snow wheel car rentals

Postby dan » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:27 pm

by sarahah » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:08 pm
Make sure the car or limo hired has all-season tires in good condition. Also check the spare. In a perfect world you might stop at a gas station and check the air pressure, but you could also trust the rental company. :)
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