Chaining up your vehicle is a personal choice. Although many say that if the weather is bad enough to chain up, you shouldn’t be out; some places require that you have these chains, even if you don’t plan on using them. Here’s a list of a few of the places where you might want to have these chains on, weather permitting.

Carry Chains In These 11 States This Winter

1. California

The California Department of Transportation requires that you have chains when there are snowstorms in the mountains. Make sure to have chains with you when crossing Interstate 80 over Donner Summit or U.S. 50 over Echo Pass. When the weather gets really rough, trucks and trailers are required to have eight chains, so be sure to at least this number on you when you set out on your drive if you're in an RV. When going over mountain passes, your vehicle will be screened to make sure you have chains, so make sure you come prepared. Although there are some private chain installers in the area, they do not have chains for sale.

2. Colorado

In bad weather, chains are required on every state highway, federal highway, and interstate throughout the entire state. If you ignore this rule, you have to pay a pretty hefty fine, so its important that you check the Colorado Department of Transportation website to see what kind of chains you will need for your car.

3. Idaho

In Idaho, there are no official chain laws; however, there will be times and areas where chains are required. When the roads are covered in snow, or appear to be very icy, there will be signs up that will let you know where you need to use your chains.

4. Montana

Montana requires chains in areas that are indicated by signs. The minimum requirement for chains is that you must have chains on drive wheels of one axel.

5. Nevada

Although there are no specific laws for or against chains in Nevada, your chains must be the right size for your tires. If chains are ever required, you can find out with light-up signs along the roadways that state: ‘when lights are flashing, chains or snow tires required’. In northern Nevada mountain passes, chains may be required from mid-October to mid-June.

6. New Mexico

New Mexico doesn’t have any chain laws, but chains are allowed when they are of reasonable proportion, in order to add traction when there is snow and ice on the road.

7. Oregon

Line chains, cable chains, or other devices that attach to the wheels of your vehicle/outside the tire are allowed in order to create traction when the weather is severe. You’ll be notified of chain requirements by signs located along the roadways.

8. South Dakota

Some South Dakota highways may restrict traffic to vehicles with chains, but there is no requirement for the amount of chains you need. Cable chains are also not prohibited. You can look for notifications about these traffic restrictions on big signs throughout the state.

9. Utah

Although there are no specific rules about the use of chains in Utah, it is recommend that you carry one set of chains from November 1st to March 31st. You’ll be made aware of these chain up requirements by signs along the roadways.

10. Washington

All commercial vehicles are required to carry chains on a majority of Washington roadways from November 1st to April 1st. While cable chains are approved here, plastic chains are not, so be sure you have the right kind before you set out on your drive through Washington. You can be made aware of chain requirements by signs along the roadways.

11. Wyoming

In severe weather, Wyoming traffic can be limited to all-wheel-drive vehicles, or vehicles with chains. You can be notified of these chain requirements by highway signs, as well as local radio stations. There are no laws that specify the use of cable chains, or how many chains you are required to have.

Installing chains to your tires is relatively simple. Find an empty car park nearby, take your chains out, and untangle them so that why appear in a web-like shape. You want to place your chains on different tires, depending on the type of car you have: for front-wheel-drive vehicles, you’ll want to place your chains on the front two tires, and you’ll want chains on your back two tires from rear-wheel-drive vehicles. For more assistance, check out these resources:

  • guide to tire chains
  • How to fit snow chains to your tires
  • How to put on snow chains and drive safely

This article was written by Kellyn Nettles.