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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So looks like there is a family trip to Colorado planned for Christmas. Now I don't worry about chains here in Texas, but western Colorado in December is different. I have a set of chains I bought for the vehicle I owned last time we made the trip. They are the correct size to fit the XC90, but I am pretty sure they are not super low profile or anything like that. What is the issue with needing specific chains? $300 is just out of the question for us, so I am hoping that the chains I have would be OK to use in a pinch if i need them. Any thoughts or suggestions from the more snow chain practiced in the group?
 

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I go snowboarding all the time... I'm always driving through frigid, icy, northeastern towns covered in snow and I've never needed chains. It's all about the tires. Nokian tires have saved my life. Conti dws' are a good all season alternative to a snow tire since you live in Texas.
 

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Just my two cents. I lived in NY Hudson Valley up until 3 months ago. I've driven in all conditions. Although NY can have some pretty severe winters, I don't think they normally get as much snow as Colorado. I don't think there is enough money in this world to put your family in jeopardy. Be prepared for the worse. If you have to spend $300.00 on the correct chains, so be it. I have found and experienced first hand that all weather tires do NOT perform as well in the snow as snow tires. In my opinion Nokian Hakka are by far the best snow tires I've owned and used. And I've used Blizzaks, Gislaveds.
 

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Not sure where in Colorado you are going but I go to Denver all the time and chains are only required on tractor trailer or trucks above the certain weight. In a car you should be okay but if I was you I would rather invest money on a set of Blizzaks (I use same tires for winter) and call it a day. Great tire, quiet and grips like crazy in frozen roads or deep snow.
 

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I wouldn't worry about it much myself. I've spent the last two years with a Tundra and summer tires. (IS 4wd tho!) No issues, really. They do a very good job with snow control up here. Now I have thought about getting chains, because the Ice can be tricky (esp if you're not accustomed to winter driving). Then again, I just got this XC90 awd (putting skis in rear seat was a pain, didn't like leaving them in the bed, PITA to put paddle board on top, but is convenient for carrying bikes), and am hoping that the volvo is as good as its reputation.

Bring the chains, JIC. They aren't required for non-commercial though. They ARE talking about legislation requiring snow tires. Then again, last fall, it snowed good in late Oct (?), turned out to be a psych job until mid/late Jan. Wasn't really excellent snow in '15 until like late Feb. Then they ended up (Arapahoe anyway) staying open until way june!
 

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Just my two cents. I lived in NY Hudson Valley up until 3 months ago. I've driven in all conditions. Although NY can have some pretty severe winters, I don't think they normally get as much snow as Colorado. I don't think there is enough money in this world to put your family in jeopardy. Be prepared for the worse. If you have to spend $300.00 on the correct chains, so be it. I have found and experienced first hand that all weather tires do NOT perform as well in the snow as snow tires. In my opinion Nokian Hakka are by far the best snow tires I've owned and used. And I've used Blizzaks, Gislaveds.
:thumbup:

Don't forget, it's not just the "snow/wintery conditions". The reason chains may be required or at least must be available is because of the mountains in addition to the snow/ice. The inclines challenge the best friction tires in mountain driving (and snowfall can be greater, faster, and fall spontaneously compared to lower elevations) and the key is that AWD/4WD has no bearing on your brakes' ability to stop any better than 2WD under any conditions.

Even on Conti DWS tires we experienced sliding (sideways) from a dead stop simply induced by a slight incline on a few inches of snow. We were stopped on our way home from skiing when we were stopped by a tractor trailer that had jack knifed going down a hill (at steepest it may have been 4%). A few cars were ahead were turning around and after finding out what the bottleneck was I too decided to make a 3 point turn. Plus while stopped I started worrying about steeper descent off the ridge about another 1 mile ahead - down a twisty 14% grade before climbing up to our plateau. We were on a gentle incline when I initiated the 3 point turn. When we were perpendicular to the road, and stopped to shift from R to D, I felt the 90 start a slow slide. I quickly shifted back to D and pulled out of the slide before we slide more than a few feet sideways (from a standstill mind you). Thankfully we found another route that had a much less severe descent. We made it down off the ridge and up a mile long 15% grade before getting home safely. This was all in freshly falling snow with about 7" of accumulation - no ice had formed yet.

As required by law we keep chains for driving through the mountains but thankfully I really didn't need to put them on. Had we not found an alternate route, I would have absolutely put them on to make it down hill safely. We'd seen too many cars against the guard rail and against the mountain side as we traveled up onto the ridge on a very twisty, narrow road with a 15% grade to realize getting off the ridge was going to be tricky unless we used chains or found a shallow path down.

The highway patrol uses Blizzaks in winter and even they aren't enough sometimes. They also use chains on the mountain passes as dependent on road conditions.

The alternative to not getting chains that fit, since it sounds like you won't be traveling through such conditions often, are either to wait it out, or if you must go or are stuck in a storm, socks are a good alternate backup: http://accessories.volvocars.com/en-us/XC90(-14)/Accessories/Document/VCC-472932/2010

I believe you can get them for under $100.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Those socks are interesting. My experience with snow chains mainly on a dump truck with a snow plow. And also on a low rider Isuzu pickup I used to own. I figure will be better to have something than nothing. We are heading to Pagosa Springs, so there will be plenty of fun mountain driving getting there from Texas.

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If one might be interested (and I might in fact be interested), the AutoSock does not need to come from Volvo and in fact is cheaper outside of OEM.
Sizing guide is here: http://www.autosock.us/fitting-guidepurchase/dimmensionfitting-guide-auto-2, OEM is $140+. If you know your size (AS697 fits 235/65 R17, 235/60 R18, 255/50 R19, 255/45 R20), you can find them as low as $78 including shipping if you look around (this price is for a Jaguar labeled package from the UK on the big auction site).

Cheesy? Maybe. Seems to get good reviews though. I'm on the fence never having had any major issues in my neck of the woods running All Season tires. And I have a set of chains for my '05 still in the box (from '05). Now that I have 2 XC90s, since the sock will fit both tire sizes, I'm pondering it for an emergency.
 

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I saw a Mercedes with socks on it last winter and they seemed to work well. I followed him around for a bit to watch and they were definitely working.
 

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When we got our XC90 we bought the Volvo snow chains so we could get around in the CA mountains. After I replaced the OEM Michelin's with Nokian GR SUV's I never had to use the chains again. Amazing grip in snow for an all season tire.
 

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We live in Denver (lived in NY for decades) and all our cars have two sets of wheels tires (well the roadster has Pilots and R compounds, but that's another topic). We have xIce on her XC90 and they are usually all we need. I say usually because we were at place we were stating. We stopped in the shop for a little while while it was dumping big time. We came outside to a near whiteout, I turned out of the lot and went into the snow bank on the side of the road. We tried a bunch of things before I got the tow eye out of the tool kit. We were pulled out by the big arse chevy pickup with 4wd and chains, and that was slipping quite a bit.

Would chains have done the trick? I don't think so. Would I have gotten back to our cabin without snows? probably not based on my informal scientific study of the cars in the lot that didn't make it out of the lot. I would take the chains, generic are probably the same as the Volvo. that's your original question I think, and not answered by all of us experts here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I don't know aboutthe tires on the vehicle. They are all 4 a Yokohama, front is different than rear. I like to replace the rears before the trip, i don't know if that will be feasible.

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I don't know aboutthe tires on the vehicle. They are all 4 a Yokohama, front is different than rear. I like to replace the rears before the trip, i don't know if that will be feasible.

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if you are changing tires look up a tire that has decent winter bite, but wont suck in your texas weather. Its not worth buying winter tires for one week a year. But, new all seasons will get you a lot of bite, and having chains will give you the extra piece of mind just in case you get stuck in something lousy like they are metering cars going through the tunnels when it is snowing hard.

As for the post bragging about summer tires in the winter, I had summer tires on my RX-7 and Porsche and took ski trips to Stowe with one, and the
Berkshires with the other. I didn't realize just how stupid I was until I put winter tires on my Legend Coupe. That's why I have two sets of wheels/tires for each car. You wear out the rubber by driving the car. Might as well have two sets, and wear out season specific rubber. it costs the same for the rubber, and the cost of used rims is mainly recouped when you sell the rims after discarding the car.
 

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Those socks are interesting...
They're fairly popular over here (UK) as we have a bit of a mental block when it comes to winter tyres. The only thing to keep in mind is that if you have them on and hit cleared tarmac it will rip them to shreds pretty quickly.

As for the post bragging about summer tires in the winter...
Quite. Read it every year. Just because everything was OK on a particular trip with summers on doesn't mean it was a good idea. It just means they were lucky.
 

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Summer tires are dangerous in the winter for a few reasons. They're hard, hard means they don't grip especially when cold. They also get harder the colder it gets and can break. They are also designed for low rolling resistance. You want rolling resistance. That's just another word for traction.
 

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Preaching to the converted here Ou2mame.

I've used winters on my two previous cars (both BMWs, daft not to) and now the XC90. I don't have the luxury of being able to just knock a day off work if the weather is bad or work from home. And as I live on the edge of The Peak District I'm not always on main roads.

I've heard encouraging things about El Niño this year too :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I don't think I can justify buying winter rubber for the 3 or 4 times a year get snow. And in North Texas, the snow is usually also preceded by a wonderful coating of solid ice, so unstudded, winter rubber only goes so far. And we seriously do actually see 80-90° temps in the "winter", and I don't know how rubber will do in those temps.

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I don't think I can justify buying winter rubber for the 3 or 4 times a year we get snow. And in North Texas, the snow is usually also preceded by a wonderful coating of solid ice, so unstudded, winter rubber only goes so far. And we seriously do actually see 80-90° temps in the "winter", and I don't know how winter rubber will do in those temps.

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I don't think I can justify buying winter rubber for the 3 or 4 times a year get snow. And in North Texas, the snow is usually also preceded by a wonderful coating of solid ice, so unstudded, winter rubber only goes so far.
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't directing my comments at you. It's more the guys over here who go on about how much driving they do and they've never needed them blah blah.

I'll tell you what did surprise me though, that you're in Texas and you get snow and ice at all. Our impression of your state is probably all hot sun, Southfork and cowboys!
 
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