CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Prius and chains

When I bought my '09 Prius I had to sign a waiver that I would not use chains. However, I am planning on going up to the mountains this winter and chains will be required by law. What am I supposed to do? Rent a car? Will chains hurt the vehicle?

I remember Alice In Chains, but I have not heard of Prius and Chains.

(Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.)

Anyway, to return to the subject at hand, I am curious about that waiver. The dealership had you sign a waiver at the time of purchase, in which you promised not to use tire chains with this car?
If that document came from Toyota, rather than from the dealership itself, I would suggest that you NOT use tire chains, as it is possible that Toyota has identified problems related to the use of tire chains on this vehicle.

What does the Owner’s Manual say on this topic?
Have you phoned the toll-free Toyota Customer Service phone number to pose your question?

If the Customer Service people confirm that you should not use tire chains on this vehicle, then you will endanger your warranty protection by using them. In that case, you will just have to rent a vehicle, I suppose.

Didn’t occur to me to call customer service. Just downloaded the manual and there are instructions for using chains. Don’t have the paperwork handy to confirm or deny if the waiver was from the dealership or from Toyota itself. Will check all of these possibilities. Thanks for your advice.

The Prius has very sophyiticated traction control system. This is because the electric motor is what gets the vehicle moving. If the traction control system see’s any excessive wheel spin, the vehicle won’t move. That’s because if you over-rev the electric motor it can result in damage to the motor. If you put chains on, it will effect the traction control system where over-reving of the electric motor could occur. And then who pays for that?

Tester

Rent. These Little Cars Appear To Be Inadequate (Dangerous?) In Slippery Conditions On Inclines.

Here’s a link to one of many articles I’ve seen.
Click this link: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2008/01/prius_winter.html

Since chains are “out”, leave that little car at home and rent a normal car. Many of the cars available near the mountains will be properly equipped for travel to ski areas and even have ski racks.

CSA

Thank you to both CSA and Tester for very useful help. Think I’ll rent a 4-wheel drive.

You would be better-off with an All Wheel Drive vehicle unless you plan to drive off-road.

My bad. Been overseas for the past 30 years and couldn’t remember the American terminology. I stand corrected. Thanks!