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New to winter driving

Are you saying you actually have Winter Tires on the vehicle now or just new All Season tires ? If actual winter tires why would you do that now ?

Disserning from what you’ve posted, I think your smartest choice of actions would be:

  1. plan your route
  2. put your chains in the trunk. (It was a good idea that you decided to familiarize yourself with putting them on and off.)
  3. seeing that you are anxious about snow travel, you can install snow tires but wait until just before you leave. Running them on dry roads are going to ruin them in short order. This will cost you dearly, but it will give you a little more comfort when you do experience snow. Myself, I would use good all seasons. If they can’t get me by, then it’s time to stop driving. But I’m from lake effect N. Michigan.
  4. keep a good distance between cars and go slow. If you are uncomfortable with your speed, slow down and be one of them people that I cuss out for being fudgies. When stopping, stop slowly and give yourself plenty of room to stop. Every time road conditions change, if you can make a practice stop so you can get a feel for how the roads are. Do not be intimidated by idiots like me who are honking and waiving their arms cause you’re going too slow. We will get over it. After the first few times of driving in snow you will eventually get accustomed to it and soon you rule.
    Safe travels. I am
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Wow, I guess you were worried. good luck. The winter tires will be useful if you decide to go up mount Rainer in the winter.

Won’t your temperatures be in the 60s, 70s, or even 80s for quite a while longer? As I mentioned above, you’re going to put a lot of premature wear on these tires. I hope you realize that you need good tread depth for the tires to work well in snow.

As for installing chains, keep in mind that you’ll get very wet and dirty if you actually end up installing them, so have the appropriate clothing and outerwear available.

What route are you taking for fun sightseeing suggestions? Sorry wrong post.

Well all that is required now is a shovel in the trunk, a AAA membership, a cell phone, emergency pack, and driving lessons. Even pilots with the best ground school scores and the best airplane need a little practice to fly and land.

OTOH, considering, it might be worthwhile to consider other employment locations.

It would be a real shame if the sun shined during the entire trip.

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Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

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The Blizzak WS90 is a dedicated winter “snow tire”. These use softer rubbers compounded for better adhesion to snow and ice, but above 40 degrees F or so they wear out quickly and have worse dry and wet road adhesion, meaning longer stopping distances. They’re not a good choice unless you will be living in a place that has snow and ice all winter, not western OR.

Check Consumer Reports for “All Season” tires that are rated “good” (or better) for snow and ice. Surprisingly, many “All Season” tires aren’t good on snow and ice, so check those that might already be on your car, too. Over many winters driving in the Sierra in severe conditions we’ve found Michelin All Season tires to be quite good. Family in ME report good results with All Season Continentals and there are a few others. Tires also work best in snow if they still have most of their tread, something to check if you current ones are well rated but older.

I5 can have serious snow and blizzards. 101 probably will have less snow, but can get some and coastal winds can be pretty wild during storms. About 20 yrs ago a son on winter break thought it would be fun to ride his motorcycle up the coast from San Francisco to Seattle. It stormed most of the way and one evening he encountered freezing rain and invisible ice - he parked and pitched his tent (he loved every minute of it, and is still living).

So: have good All Season tires, carry chains, keep track of the weather, have a flashlight, a phone, check your spare. Also a garden spade, windshield scraper and brush, chain changing clothes, and sufficient gear to survive a night out in a storm (sleeping bag, winter coat, warm clothes, water, food). And a compact tow strap if someone needs to help you get unstuck. Carry money for a motel.

Chains: We’ve had several cars where the manual warned against chains but allowed low profile chains or snow cables (rated “S” or lower) when the law required them. We found the problem wasn’t clearance over the tread, but interference of the inner chain (or cable) with the strut mounts. We use cables and had to reject some models, but found that that the cheapest type of cables with about a dozen “over the tread” sections going straight across the tire and connecting individually to the side cables work fine and satisfy the law. If you find you’re using them often, like if your vehicle is 2WD and you go skiing, look for the type where the over-the-tread cables are strung with little coil springs rather than metal macaroni, for better grip. Confirm fit and practice putting chains on and off a few times.

Battery: Batteries love to wait for the first cold morning or the very worse time to fail. If over 3 yrs old or if you’ve ever drained it overnight (which weakens them), strongly consider getting a new one. If over 5 yrs certainly get a new one. Read your manual on jumper cables.

Incidentally, in mountains both east and west we always could get through heavy snow in 2WD cars using All Season tires, shovel, sand. We only occasionally needed chains, but when we did we really did.

I would plan to stay in a hotel if there were a storm on the day of travel.

I grew up in Los Angeles, lived in the Seattle area for 25 years, and have now lived in Western Oregon for the last 5 years. I’ve driven the route from LA to Seattle more times than I can remember. You’re worrying about (almost) nothing. The only 2 places that may be of any concern to you is the Grapevine area as you leave the LA basin and the Siskiyous in southern Oregon. Snow in the SoCal area is such a rarity it’s not even worth thinking about.

Remember I-5 is the major artery of the west coast and is kept as clear and free as humanly possible. 9 times out of 10 I will be able to drive through the Siskiyous at Christmas time with hardly a slow down, even if there is snow. Once I was caught at the CA/OR border with a snow chain restriction. I had to turn around back to Yreka to buy chains. By the time I got back an hour later they had lifted the chain restriction. Just drive carefully, be aware of other drivers, and you’ll be fine.

Once you get to Portland you will find the winters are milder than you think. But the problem won’t be driving in snow, it will be driving on ice. The snow that falls up here is called Cascade Concrete for a reason. Snow here is thick, heavy, and wet. Generally you will see 3-4 inches of water-logged flakes, followed by daytime temps of 38 degrees for about 4 hours. Just enough to melt the top 2 inches and then turn the street into a skating rink as temps go back to below freezing after dark. But that’s a rarity, might happen twice in a winter. We didn’t have any snow at all last winter in Eugene.

Seriously, if you insist on moving, and are not familiar with winters, take the motel. When I was nearly a kid a good friend of my SIL was driving south to Sioux Falls in a storm and stalled. He had a sleeping bag and used it but they found him dead the next day when they cleared the road. I think he was 16 at the time. South Dakota native and still didn’t make it.

Every measure of planning must be taken to avoid suffering the same fate as the Donner Party.

I must have traveled Tejon Pass but don’t recall.

I have traveled Cajon pass many times, the minivans travel at 55 MPH and the other traffic at 85 MPH. At least once a decade the Cajon pass is closed due to snowfall, our freight delivery is canceled those days. This is something folklore is built on, those treacherous western highways.

Hi Voxorg:
The chain or winter tire requirement is only when winter storm conditions exist. As others have noted, as you get to Oregon, if there’s a winter storm, then just get a hotel and wait until it passes.

Once you living in Portland, good all-season tires should be sufficient.

I used to live in Cleveland Ohio and there were hills I could not get up even with chains. Also if the snow was over 8 inches deep I could not get far because it would pack up under the car, lifting it, which caused it to lose traction. If you are a snow newbe, stay off the roads until they are cleared. It takes a long time to learn how and where to drive on snow and ice. Also when they salt the roads it will rot out your car eventually so you need to hose it off including underneath.

They don’t salt the roads on the west coast.

This is a La Niña year. That means Cali will be warmer and drier than usual until you get to far Northern Cali, where precipitation is expected to be average. Average precipitation and temperatures are predicted for Oregon. Note that this is on average, and you could hit a cold spell. Still, if you are going to make the trip, this is the best winter to do it until the next La Niña shows up.