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Old 11-01-2018, 12:13 AM   #1
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Chains for towing?

I will be taking a trip from SoCal to Louisiana this winter and might encounter snow or frozen roads on the way. I've never towed a trailer under these conditions.

Do I need chains for the trailer and the tow vehicle, or just for one or the other?

I will be towing my 2011 5.0 SA Escape with a 2017 GMC Canyon (diesel) and an Anderson Hitch.

Rick
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Old 11-01-2018, 02:41 AM   #2
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Each state has different requirements. That being said, the general case is if you're driving in snow or ice, you need chains on the tow vehicle drive wheels and on at least one axle of the trailer if it has brakes. All Escape trailers have electric brakes on all axles. Some states are more restrictive than others. Oregon, for instance, requires you to carry chains in the winter.
Other states require chains on certain roads in certain conditions. You can always sit out the storm and wait 'til the Interstate is clear.
We purchased chains on-line for our tow and trailer from Glacier Chains (Anchorage, AK). good price, good quality, perfect fit. Now we're set for whatever comes our way.
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Old 11-01-2018, 07:11 AM   #3
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If you take the southern route you will not need chains...
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Old 11-01-2018, 08:36 AM   #4
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While we do, very rarely, get ice storms and freezing rain here in the South, resulting poor road conditions rarely last longer than the storm itself. The ground under roadways is generally so warm that poor road conditions clear up quickly once the storm passes. The bigger danger is often falling pine tree branches that can't withstand the sudden added weight of the ice or snow building up on them. So if you find yourself in one of those rare ice/snow storms here in the south, don't seek sanctuary under a pine tree!
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Old 11-01-2018, 08:50 AM   #5
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Take the southern I-10 route and you won't need them, on I-40 you well may if you insist on being on the road. We've driven to/from southern AZ the last 3 years in every winter month and have not run into ice or snow on 10. I keep an eye on weather forecasts when traveling and adjust my route accordingly. I do not pack chains but figure on pulling over for a day if I run into weather.

We did have snow on 40 at Flagstaff last year, I think it was Feb, but wasn't towing at the time, just sightseeing.
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Old 11-01-2018, 10:15 AM   #6
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We carry chains as we drive south every winter from Vancouver, BC passing through Oregon which has quite strict chain requirements. However, there’s no way I’m ever putting chains on my trailer. If it’s poor road conditions requiring chains, we are pulling off the road and waiting for the snow to pass. It’s highly unlikely we will ever be in a situation where we are forced to be anywhere by a certain day, so why risk driving in snow? Too high a possibility of sustaining damage to our trailer or TV through an accident. We can easily hole up somewhere, for 24 or even 48 hours, turn on the furnace and stay warm and safe as we let the bad weather pass.
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Old 11-01-2018, 10:44 AM   #7
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I have driven and towed in snow a bit, (never in an ice blizzard, or up and down a 6 degree grade, etc.), but can't imagine ever needing chains on my 4x4 truck so putting them on the trailer seems to me a little nuts. In winter they do occasionally close I-40 here in New Mexico but it may be because of many 50 plus mile stretches of totally barren roadway you would never want to need rescuing from. By comparison, the I-10 going east, is like the tropics. I agree, when in doubt, pull over and wait it out.
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Old 11-01-2018, 12:06 PM   #8
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I10 from El Paso to Lordsburg, NM gets white out conditions and closes some during the winter months. Usually, they have it open within 24 hrs but we have been stuck in Las Cruces waiting for I10 to be reopened. While it seems its too far south to get this tyoe of weather, it can be a really rough stretch at times in the winter months. A short wait will usually get you back on the way if it is bad there.
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Old 11-01-2018, 09:49 PM   #9
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I bought chains for my truck 3 years ago and have never used them. I have towed my 5.0TA through snow storms and icy conditions a few times, but have never needed them. I do use snow tires in the winter though. Even with my construction trailers I tow all through the winter here in Calgary, I have rarely felt the need for chains, and on the few occasions I did think they would sure be nice, mostly when the snow is warm and wet, I just don't drive unless necessary.
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
..................., I just don't drive unless necessary.

They came in handy once for us. We were camping at about 7000 ft. in Calif. mts. The night before we had to leave, it snowed enough that I mounted the chains. We were pulling our little utility trailer with all our gear in it. On the way out, CHP just smiled, then waved us through.
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:58 AM   #11
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Thanks for your responses. I do plan to take the I10. I have chains for my truck and will carry those, but not being in a hurry, I like the suggestion to wait for the storm to pass.

Rick
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Old 11-02-2018, 09:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
I bought chains for my truck 3 years ago and have never used them. I have towed my 5.0TA through snow storms and icy conditions a few times, but have never needed them. I do use snow tires in the winter though. Even with my construction trailers I tow all through the winter here in Calgary, I have rarely felt the need for chains, and on the few occasions I did think they would sure be nice, mostly when the snow is warm and wet, I just don't drive unless necessary.
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Originally Posted by lzcamper View Post
Thanks for your responses. I do plan to take the I10. I have chains for my truck and will carry those, but not being in a hurry, I like the suggestion to wait for the storm to pass.

Rick
I have and will tow trailers in the winter if necessary, but really prefer not to. My preference is to wait it (winter) out and start trailer haulin again in the spring. Between the cold temperatures, icy conditions, and heavily salted roads I am quite comfortable waiting.
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Old 11-02-2018, 01:47 PM   #13
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We live in the snowy part of Oregon and in the winter we buy high quality snow tires (not studs) for our vehicle for safety. We always have rims on each set and thus switching them out in the fall and spring is easy. We see so many pickups in accidents on the mountain passes, though my thoughtful Escape owners are not like that brand of driver I am sure. I just won't drive pulling a trailer through the mountain passes when the conditions are bad so we only have, in the past, carried trailer chains. Will have to think about this as we own a stack of old, unused chains! BUT it is rare indeed that the roads don't clear up by midday or within a few days. We usually park our trailer at our house and plan on watching for clear weather to skoot out of Central Oregon to safer roads. Keep in mind when I say rare - I am talking over many years, We got hit with an incredibly unusual 6 feet of snow in Bend Or the year before last and we not only had to shovel off our home roof for the first time ever, but also our trailer roof. So, watch the year and not just the week or month. We also take advantage of the better highways for winter - like coastal.
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Old 11-02-2018, 02:13 PM   #14
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...We see so many pickups in accidents on the mountain passes...
Agreed! Tires matter. Too many people buy into the hype that with 4WD/AWD they are invincible. That's why they make up the majority of vehicles you see in the ditch.

All vehicles have 4 wheel braking and 2 wheel steering (except the odd sports car). While 4WD/AWD can help you get going, once you're rolling, snow tires are what's going to keep you in control.
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Old 11-02-2018, 03:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfandrews View Post
Each state has different requirements. That being said, the general case is if you're driving in snow or ice, you need chains on the tow vehicle drive wheels and on at least one axle of the trailer if it has brakes. All Escape trailers have electric brakes on all axles. Some states are more restrictive than others. Oregon, for instance, requires you to carry chains in the winter.
Other states require chains on certain roads in certain conditions. You can always sit out the storm and wait 'til the Interstate is clear.
We purchased chains on-line for our tow and trailer from Glacier Chains (Anchorage, AK). good price, good quality, perfect fit. Now we're set for whatever comes our way.
Is it true that the four wheel escapes have brakes on all four wheels? Thought It would only be two.

We have chains in order to be legal in all western states but have never used them.
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Old 11-02-2018, 03:50 PM   #16
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Is it true that the four wheel escapes have brakes on all four wheels? Thought It would only be two.
Yes, all Escape models have brakes on all axles (so all four wheels of tandem-axle trailers). That's true of most trailers of any type or brand now, and legally required in some places.

The idea of having brakes on only one axle (two wheels) is obsolete; it was done just to be cheap, and to avoid locking up and sliding all of the tires with primitive old brake controllers.
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Old 11-02-2018, 04:29 PM   #17
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It's my understanding that you need chains on all wheels with brakes. That makes for eight sets of chains on a trailer/truck set up. That's a lot of chains!
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Old 11-02-2018, 05:14 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Anachr0n View Post
Agreed! Tires matter. Too many people buy into the hype that with 4WD/AWD they are invincible. That's why they make up the majority of vehicles you see in the ditch.

All vehicles have 4 wheel braking and 2 wheel steering (except the odd sports car). While 4WD/AWD can help you get going, once you're rolling, snow tires are what's going to keep you in control.
Yes - we have an AWD vehicle that is excellent in the snow - but we still put on snow tires (not studs).
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Old 11-02-2018, 05:30 PM   #19
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It's my understanding that you need chains on all wheels with brakes. That makes for eight sets of chains on a trailer/truck set up. That's a lot of chains!
Chain rules vary by jurisdiction (province or state). I doubt any require chains on all axles with brakes.

Vermont, for instance, doesn't seem to require chains on light vehicles at all, and even their rules for vehicles over 26,000 lb only require chains on "one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer" (which I hope means one on each side ).
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:32 AM   #20
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Ok. I agree with others who have sung the praises of high quality snow tires (with siping for ice traction) on 4wd vehicles.
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