Snow chain or cable on a Mazda6?

2006 Mazda 6s sedan. Owner’s manual says it doesn’t take snow chains. I e-mailed Mazda–same answer, and no other suggestions. I live where it doesn’t snow, so most of the time this doesn’t matter. However, once a year I take a 4-day trip over Donner Pass in January to Reno in the winter, to a Scrabble tournament (hence my screen name). When it snows, the CHP requires chains–snow tires aren’t good enough. Renting a car that takes chains for four days seems awful expensive. Flying, from where I live, is practically impossible. Any suggestions? Anyone ever put chains or cables or any other snow traction device on a Mazda6?

Cable chains work fine. They are designed for vehicles with low wheel well gaps. I’ve used them in Hondas and Nissans. They will work fine on a Mazda.

I used to live in Washington State, which also had those ridiculous “chains required” rules. (Although the WA variation is “drivers must carry chains”). I never once actually had to put chains on my (front drive) car-- any time the conditions actually got bad enough to actually need chains, they would close the pass. The trouble is that WSDOT and CALTRANS guidelines were probably written sometime back in the 70’s when everyone drove big overpowered rear-wheel drive cars. A RWD car does sometimes need chains in light snow but, in my experience, if the snow’s so bad a FWD car is having trouble getting traction, it’s usually too deep to drive in anyways.

Now, Mazda probably knows this. If they thought you would need chains for conditions you would expect to encounter on main highways, they would have provided for chains to be mounted on your vehicle. This is likely not an argument you are going to win with a highway patrolman, however, so you may be out of luck. You may be able to fit some cable chains on (to satisfy the law), but I’d be wary of doing so since the dealership and manual says explicitly not to.

For one weekend a year, I’d just say take the train (a really pretty ride!) and then rent a car in Reno if necessary.

Thanks, both of you. The train is starting to look like an attractive option (relatively cheap, no wear and tear on the car, and no worries about cables). But it does take a little longer than driving.