Tire chains for driving out to California from the midwest (2016 Mercedes E-250)

Hi, My wife and I are planning to take the Mercedes out west to CA from the midwest. The route we will be taking is either (per Google) I-80/76/70/15/CA-58/CA-46 (shortest route) or I-35/70/35/335/40/CA-58/CA-46 (longer route, by an hour). We wonder on recommendations regarding putting chains on the tires for the mountain passes. We have not used chains ever. We are fine with going slow (waiting a day out) in case of bad weather (which might be more of an issue with the shorter route). I don’t want to go through the hassle of getting winter tires and then having to take them off (and store the tires). We don’t drive that much, except for pleasure, but have experience with winter driving in the plains. We have done trips across the country quite a few times (but not very recently).

Snow socks are a nice alternative to chains, check the states you are going through to make sure they meet the requirements for the states you are going through. If you have time wait till the roads are good and no chains required, my thought. Here is a start. Tire Sock and Snow Chain Regulations by State - AutoSock

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most states do not let you use snow chains anymore. you should be fine with a good set of all-weather tires. just take it slower going down the hills in the snow. have a fun and safe trip.

Thanks! I only have the tires that are recommended with the car. (Not all-weather tires.) I presume there will be posted speed limits on icy hilly roads of the Interstate, unless it is obvious.

No there will not be posted speed limits just because of snow or ice. They hope people have enough brain cells to slow down or find a motel if it too bad to be on the road .

Just check the long range forecast and go farther south if needed.


Depending on which size tires you have, you may not be able to use chains at all on your car. Check your owners manual.

Also, if your tires are not at least m&s rated, basically all season, you should avoid snow conditions at all cost.


Are you sure you don’t have all season tires and Mustang is probably correct your vehicle is not meant to have chains on it .

Does this mean you have summer only tires?
I am sure MB recommends winter tires for winter use.

Zee Germans ONLY use zee vinter tires fur shnow!

Cars in Germany must install winter tires for winter use, by law. There is a reason for that!


Sorry, yes, I guess summer tires is what I meant (though I guess they don’t probably call it that). It has the tires that the car came with: Bridgestone DriveGuard run-flat tire.

But is there a huge chance of winter-driving on icy hills if i use the alternative southern route? As I said, I don’t fancy the hassle of storing the other set of tires.

Yes, indeed. I am aware of this German law.

Same tires that the 2016 came with ? They are 6 years old and I would not be suprised to see that they are worn and hard enough that is it is replacement time. And you do not have to put Run Flat tires on it ( they are just way too expensive ) .


So, we got this car last year, it has about 36K miles. Mercedes has not said that the tires need replacement at the last visit. Their report does not have tread but the previous owner’s dealer did (4.1 mm or greater when we got the car, we have driven only 2K miles after that). The rear right tire has had to be replaced twice (once under the previous owner, per records, and the second earlier this summer, both times got nails in it). I would guess the tread is all right. Btw, don’t i need run-flat simply because there is no place for a spare wheel?

Sorry, meant 32K miles.

In some severe snow storms chains may be absolutely required in California, otherwise you’ll have to wait for snow plows or better weather; either that or buy a set of chains along side the road. I had that problem one time during a freak Oct snow storm on I80 Donner Pass, bought a custom-fit set and they installed them for me while I sat inside w/the heater on, along side I80. Priced about the same as if I had purchased the set at a parts store, and what w/the custom fit, that method worked well for me. Note this may not work for you if you get stuck in a place where purchasing chains isn’t an option. In that case you’ll just have to wait.

I70 to I15 to Las Vegas then to LA might be a better winter-driving choice, less chance of severe snow.

Those tires are probably new and were installed by the dealer that sold you the car. That is not the OE tire, where I work the Bridgestone DriveGuard is offered as a less expensive RFT.

Would you send your mother on a cross country trip with no spare tire? Run flat tires cost $20 to $50 more for each tire.

If you take 40 you may not see any snow. I drove it and one section goes up to 7,000 feet but it isn’t always snowing. I only drove it in October and March I only saw a little bit of snow left in March. If you can stand endless billboards you might have a good trip. If you see a big fallen tree trunk in Az. it’s petrified. It’s good to see the “new looking” lava too. You can stay on 40 and ignore the signs for Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater and Painted Desert. Snow isn’t the only natural disaster.

You’ll save a lot of hassle, worry, and white knuckles if you forego the chains and just hole up for a day or so if there’s some chains-only highway in front of you.

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Agree in all my years of driving OTR I have never used chains I had them with me because of the law that said we had to have them the company’s that I drove for preferred that we hole up if possible instead of taking a chance of having a wreck.

Don’t know where you got that from

All states allow chains under certain conditions.
They all have something on the books that say something to this affect
Tire chains of reasonable proportions may be used on any vehicle when required for
safety because of snow, ice or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to skid.