Why all the stress about using Snow Chains

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The Plowking

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Teckel, as I said, I have driven in real winter conditions, in countries with much more difficult snow conditions. I witnessed serious accidents with friends of mine who did not drive properly over there . We only drove in 2WD with winter tyres. I was in an Audi A4 wagon and almost followed a 4WD to the top of a pretty steep snow covered road (ie they were breaking trail through 30cm of freshies on a dirt road). I was forced to stop about 100m short of the house because it was too deep and I didn't have enough clearance under the car to keep traction. So Hotham and Baw Baw? Pfffft.

I never had any problem using gears to control speed. I have seen many people come undone because they do not drive properly in snow/ice conditions (ie use your gears and accelerate gently). Watching idiots floor it the more they slid sideways at Smiggins is always a head shaker for me.
Good luck in that no visibility convoy heading off Hotham towards harrietville without snow tyres or chains in your 4x4.
And good luck heading down off Baw Baw in a low snow event in heavy traffic where you need to stop on a steep winding road.
I've spent 5 full seasons in Europe and Canada and these (Hotham/baw baw) roads are up there with the worst anywhere.
Baw Baw road was better unsealed.
 
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The Plowking

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M&S tyres in a F150 at about 60 km hour
Done this in a 2wd hire car (all season rather than winter tyres) Canada many a time. Especially inland. Less treacherous usually. Low humidity.
Still contend Hotham and BawBaw in bad conditions you really need chains. Even on 4x4.
I'm talking your wet snow freezing on road type conditions.

Perisher/Thredbo/Buller/Falls pretty easy roads. It's just the Hero's and newbies that cause issues
 

mick chopps

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Good luck in that no visibility convoy heading off Hotham towards harrietville without snow tyres or chains in your 4x4.
And good luck heading down off Baw Baw in a low snow event in heavy traffic where you need to stop on a steep winding road.
I've spent 5 full seasons in Europe and Canada and these (Hotham/baw baw) roads are up there with the worst anywhere.
Baw Baw road was better unsealed.
it is the above attitude of too many idiots that has resulted in the stringent chain rules Hotham have introduced. Fools driving their Q5's off the road in a blizzard because "they don't need chains"... some driving off the road in a blizzard because they're driving an idiot with chains on...
 
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DPS Driver

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Hotham is a different beast to the Alpine way into Thredbo. I always carry chains to Hotham but have never had to break them out. Mostly drive that road in my Outback awd.
 
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Arsas

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I do have to say I am quite surprised with the elitist attitude of a lot of the AWD/4WD drivers.
Just because the government has a law stating you don't need chains if you drive a 4WD (NSW) doesn't mean that they are safe. I would rather drive my 2wd with chains in really bad icy conditions than a AWD.
2wd means power can be sent to 2 wheels but only one at a time and it is always the wheel with the least resistance, and then if you have traction control it will break the wheel with to much spin which will then make it the wheel with the most resistance and the power will go to the other side.
4wd means power can be sent to 4 wheels but only 2 wheels can drive at the same time, one at the front and one and the rear, not all 4 wheels at the same time as a lot people assume. The power is only sent 50/50 front and rear in a real 4wd that has a centre diff lock. AWD can be any kind of front/rear power split and just basically uses a centre coupling and traction control to send power front to rear or side to side, but depending on the AWD you can end with hardly any power up at the front wheels which than leaves you with a glorified 2wd.
The majority of cars I see off the side of the road are AWD/4WD and usually upper market SUV,s which now have low profile sports tyres that have no tread depth and clog up at the first site of snow. Don't know if it is an elitist mentality, pure naivety because the government says I don't need chains so I must be safe, or a complete lack of common sense?
 

Charlie

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Don't know if it is an elitist mentality, pure naivety because the government says I don't need chains so I must be safe, or a complete lack of common sense?
A little bit of 'believing the manufacturer's hype, as well!'
 
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The Plowking

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I do have to say I am quite surprised with the elitist attitude of a lot of the AWD/4WD drivers.
Just because the government has a law stating you don't need chains if you drive a 4WD (NSW) doesn't mean that they are safe. I would rather drive my 2wd with chains in really bad icy conditions than a AWD.
2wd means power can be sent to 2 wheels but only one at a time and it is always the wheel with the least resistance, and then if you have traction control it will break the wheel with to much spin which will then make it the wheel with the most resistance and the power will go to the other side.
4wd means power can be sent to 4 wheels but only 2 wheels can drive at the same time, one at the front and one and the rear, not all 4 wheels at the same time as a lot people assume. The power is only sent 50/50 front and rear in a real 4wd that has a centre diff lock. AWD can be any kind of front/rear power split and just basically uses a centre coupling and traction control to send power front to rear or side to side, but depending on the AWD you can end with hardly any power up at the front wheels which than leaves you with a glorified 2wd.
The majority of cars I see off the side of the road are AWD/4WD and usually upper market SUV,s which now have low profile sports tyres that have no tread depth and clog up at the first site of snow. Don't know if it is an elitist mentality, pure naivety because the government says I don't need chains so I must be safe, or a complete lack of common sense?
yep.
That's firmly the 'hero' types
 
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The Plowking

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Hotham is a different beast to the Alpine way into Thredbo. I always carry chains to Hotham but have never had to break them out. Mostly drive that road in my Outback awd.
Given financial and time constraints I only go once a season ATM.. and it's ALWAYS when the roads are at their worst.
Never needed chains Omeo approach :)
Only way I go in said conditions.
Harrietville is a gong show these days in those conditions. Newbies, overzealous road patrol and Hero's in equal measure. Can't be bothered with it.
 

mick chopps

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Given financial and time constraints I only go once a season ATM.. and it's ALWAYS when the roads are at their worst.
Never needed chains Omeo approach :)
Only way I go in said conditions
Harrietville is a gong show these days in those conditions. Newbies, overzealous road patrol and Hero's in equal measure. Can't be bothered with it.
I saw somebody towing a caravan over from Harrietville last October when I was up there... There was a foot of fresh snow over night up the top, 15cm at Dinner Plain and the road clearing guys weren't exactly hammering up and back given the season had finished.
 

CarveMan

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The majority of cars I see off the side of the road are AWD/4WD and usually upper market SUV,s which now have low profile sports tyres that have no tread depth and clog up at the first site of snow. Don't know if it is an elitist mentality, pure naivety because the government says I don't need chains so I must be safe, or a complete lack of common sense?

This. The tyres on my VW Touareg have no business going to the snow, which is why I put snow tyres on. It might be a bit of overkill but having done the Alpine Way on Thursday when it was dumping I was particularly happy with the decision.

I would back a FWD with snow tyres over an AWD with low profile road tyres.
 

alexd

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I do have to say I am quite surprised with the elitist attitude of a lot of the AWD/4WD drivers.
Just because the government has a law stating you don't need chains if you drive a 4WD (NSW) doesn't mean that they are safe. I would rather drive my 2wd with chains in really bad icy conditions than a AWD.
2wd means power can be sent to 2 wheels but only one at a time and it is always the wheel with the least resistance, and then if you have traction control it will break the wheel with to much spin which will then make it the wheel with the most resistance and the power will go to the other side.
4wd means power can be sent to 4 wheels but only 2 wheels can drive at the same time, one at the front and one and the rear, not all 4 wheels at the same time as a lot people assume. The power is only sent 50/50 front and rear in a real 4wd that has a centre diff lock. AWD can be any kind of front/rear power split and just basically uses a centre coupling and traction control to send power front to rear or side to side, but depending on the AWD you can end with hardly any power up at the front wheels which than leaves you with a glorified 2wd.
The majority of cars I see off the side of the road are AWD/4WD and usually upper market SUV,s which now have low profile sports tyres that have no tread depth and clog up at the first site of snow. Don't know if it is an elitist mentality, pure naivety because the government says I don't need chains so I must be safe, or a complete lack of common sense?
What are you on about with this only 1 side drives at one time nonsense? Open differentials split torque evenly, not asymmetrically as you seem to be saying. LSDs split torque evenly until there is slip which causes torque to be split more towards the wheel with traction. Same with open differentials and using individual brakes. Locked diffs are obviously locked, the speed of the wheels is the same and the torque split is whatever traction each wheel has at every instant.

Yes, the centre diff is more varied between cars and many high end cars with AWD are usually automatic part time AWD or are biased to the front or rear. But still many AWDs like my manual Forester, have a viscous centre diff that splits torque relatively evenly front/rear.

Lots of AWD cars now have a electronically controlled clutch pack sort of centre diff and open diffs on each axle with brake assist. You generally have to pay more or buy an off road oriented car to have viscous diffs, or lockers.

Regardless these AWD cars are still gonna be better at getting up a slippery slope than a 2WD car everything else equal. Of course it makes less difference for handling and braking.


I still think that with proper driver knowledge skills and practice that many Aussie roads in winter conditions don't need chains. But yeah, lowest common denominator and all that.

Personally I think skateboarding in the rain is scarier than driving on refrozen slush. And I do that all the time.
 

Arsas

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What are you on about with this only 1 side drives at one time nonsense? Open differentials split torque evenly, not asymmetrically as you seem to be saying. LSDs split torque evenly until there is slip which causes torque to be split more towards the wheel with traction. Same with open differentials and using individual brakes. Locked diffs are obviously locked, the speed of the wheels is the same and the torque split is whatever traction each wheel has at every instant.
You are correct an open diff does send equal amounts of torque to each wheel but it is limited to the amount of torque the wheel with the least resistance needs to spin freely.

So if you are trying to drive up a slippery icy road and you lose traction on one of your drive wheels an open differential will always try and balance the torque. So however much torque it takes to spin the wheel that is slipping is the same amount of torque that is applied to the other wheel. It takes very little torque to spin a wheel on ice so that is how much torque is sent to the other wheel which is basically sitting there doing nothing. So it is effectively only driving one wheel.

I may not have explained it in proper terms in my first post but I have been a 4wdriver for a long time and understand how diffs work and how AWD and traction control works. Most people buy a 4WD and believe that it drives all 4 wheels and they will get out of any situation and will have heaps of grip. Then they go offroad or try and drive an icy road and get them self in a situation where they lose traction and spin wheels and don’t undertand why only one front wheel and one back wheel are spinning.

So in practical terms an open diff is only as strong as its weakest link which is the wheel with the least resistance.
 
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Arsas

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These videos show how well current AWD technology, Mazda in this case, performs in snow.

Mazda Ice Academy Drive, The Age
http://www.drive.com.au/motor-feature/mazda-ice-academy-20160204-gmm6n6.html
2016 Mazda CX-3 and CX-5 AWD review | snow test | CarsGuide Herald Sun
https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-reviews/2016-mazda-cx-3-and-cx-5-awd-review-snow-test-395342016 Mazda Ice Academy Video Review from Car Advice
http://www.caradvice.com.au/413541/2016-mazda-ice-academy-crested-butte-colorado/

Great but the cars are fitted with winter tyres (I bet they are the best winters you can get as well) This does not help the average person driving to the snow on the weekend. Show me the same vehicles in the same situation with standard OEM fitted tyres and lets see what happens.
 

alexd

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You are correct an open diff does send equal amounts of torque to each wheel but it is limited to the amount of torque the wheel with the least resistance needs to spin freely.

So if you are trying to drive up a slippery icy road and you lose traction on one of your drive wheels an open differential will always try and balance the torque. So however much torque it takes to spin the wheel that is slipping is the same amount of torque that is applied to the other wheel. It takes very little torque to spin a wheel on ice so that is how much torque is sent to the other wheel which is basically sitting there doing nothing. So it is effectively only driving one wheel.

I may not have explained it in proper terms in my first post but I have been a 4wdriver for a long time and understand how diffs work and how AWD and traction control works. Most people buy a 4WD and believe that it drives all 4 wheels and they will get out of any situation and will have heaps of grip. Then they go offroad or try and drive an icy road and get them self in a situation where they lose traction and spin wheels and don’t undertand why only one front wheel and one back wheel are spinning.

So in practical terms an open diff is only as strong as its weakest link which is the wheel with the least resistance.
Yeah indeed, the tractive force on an open diff axle is only twice the traction of the wheel with the least traction. But the brake assist method works fine for most cars. The brake just "absorbs" the torque that the tyre can't support as traction and the other wheel gets more torque. Doesn't mean you need a locker or even a proper LSD for it to help you out in the snow. You wouldn't wanna be using that very much as it can overheat brakes in the worst case but for on road snow driving it's fine.

The truth is that modern electronics can perform the same role as LSDs for less cost because most drivers hardly ever need a real LSD, unless you wanna do lots of off-roading or burnouts, drifting or whatever.

All of this has little to do with driving skill, which is what chains can sorta make up for, a little bit. But more education is always good. And heck, I think having a skid pad or big empty parking lot to slide around in helps heaps for learning your tractive limits.
 

Jacko4650

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I'm always keen to learn and after many years driving the NSW alpine roads, I'm comfortable knowing my limits (touch wood). I now have a top spec Triton with diff lockers. I stay in high ratio 4wd but where would I need to engage the lockers?
 

alexd

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I'm always keen to learn and after many years driving the NSW alpine roads, I'm comfortable knowing my limits (touch wood). I now have a top spec Triton with diff lockers. I stay in high ratio 4wd but where would I need to engage the lockers?
You'd want to lock the diffs when traction is so poor that your wheels start to spin. Be sure to unlock them before driving onto dry pavement, or at least before going around any curves on dry pavement. This is to avoid wind-up which could break driveline components.

The golden rule is to never have your diffs locked unless your wheels *can* slip.
 

Jacko4650

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You'd want to lock the diffs when traction is so poor that your wheels start to spin. Be sure to unlock them before driving onto dry pavement, or at least before going around any curves on dry pavement. This is to avoid wind-up which could break driveline components.

The golden rule is to never have your diffs locked unless your wheels *can* slip.
Thanks. Never had wheel spin other than when it was intentional to test limits, so lets hope I never have to engage the lockers on these alpine roads!
 

Hermannator

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All for one little slushy patch near DP. Ive also seen the vicroads "traction test vehicle" out alot this year. Never seen it before.
Have seen this traction test vehicle also - for 2 seasons now.

Have not seen any meaningful outcomes or results from test vehicle.
 

bawbawbel

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ABS in Germany: once had higher insurance premium.
ABS in OZ: works to correct a skid better than a rally driver. But you are then probably on the wrong side of the road, leaving a B double with the choice of committing suicide or sending you off to the pearly gates.
ABS on ice: wisely decides that it would be dangerous to move at all.
AWD that senses a wheel spinning: bit too late, mate.
 
All for one little slushy patch near DP. Ive also seen the vicroads "traction test vehicle" out alot this year. Never seen it before.

These 'Traction Test Vehicles' are used at MTH to evaluate road conditions to determine when snow chains are required to be fitted, (No chain fitting, 2WD fitting or to all vehicles fitting), as part of the VicRoads Great Alpine Road snow chain fitting protocol.
upload_2017-9-28_12-12-7.png
 

The Plowking

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These 'Traction Test Vehicles' are used at MTH to evaluate road conditions to determine when snow chains are required to be fitted, (No chain fitting, 2WD fitting or to all vehicles fitting), as part of the VicRoads Great Alpine Road snow chain fitting protocol.
upload_2017-9-28_12-12-7.png
anal decision maker is anal
 

Ultra

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driving on snow = easy
driving on ice = hard need chains!

Australia has a lot more ice events than snow.. especially on the roads.
 

iagreewithhim

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These 'Traction Test Vehicles' are used at MTH to evaluate road conditions to determine when snow chains are required to be fitted, (No chain fitting, 2WD fitting or to all vehicles fitting), as part of the VicRoads Great Alpine Road snow chain fitting protocol.
upload_2017-9-28_12-12-7.png
Interesting that they use an old Hilux, which would struggle to spin its wheels on a skating rink!
 

Gregah

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Skoda - SO MUCH car for the money!! (I have a Superb wagon)
Great cars but be aware that, unlike Subies, the factory rim and tyre combo will almost certainly not be compatible with snow chains. I bought the AWD Superb wagon and ended up importing a snow chain compliant second set. Not a bad outcome in the end as I put winter tyres on them...but an expensive 'extra' if you weren't aware of Skoda's approach up front.
 
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