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Thread: RWD and chains

  1. #1

    Default RWD and chains

    Hey I have a 04 Silverado 1500 RWD. I live down in Southern California but would like to head to the mountains this winter to snowboard. Does anyone have good advice on the best type of tire chain for my truck? Is the "ladder style" or "z-pattern" or "diamond tread" better? What about material: cable, chain, rubber etc..

    Also, how much harder is it to manuver with a RWD on the mtn passes than w/ a FWD. 4x4 isnt an option so I don't need, the "dude you really need a 4 wheel drive" schpeel. Driving on ice and snow isn't a problem as I grew up in a very snowy and icy region of the states (South Dakota), I just have never done so in a RWD vehicle.

    Thanks for your help!!
    2004 Chevy Silverado 1500 LS
    -55,000 miles
    -K&N FIPK
    2005 Pontiac Grand Prix
    -24,000 miles
    -K&N FIPK
    2006 Suzuki GSXR600
    -Two Bros V.A.L.E. exhaust
    -Battlax BT-016 Dual Compound Tires

  2. #2


    It's been years since I've driven RWD in the snow (an old Datsun 200SX). One thing I can say for sure: chains made a huge difference. I'd put those chains on and take off up an unplowed FS road and, as long as the ruts didn't get too deep so that I got high centered, I went around just fine. Around town, those chains held the rear to the road great.

    The thing with that old car (and your pickup is likely the same way) was that the rear end was very light. Pickups tend to be the same way: relatively little weight over the drive wheels. You can put sand bags or whatever in the back and that helps with traction, too.

    What kind of roads do you expect to travel to get to you snowboarding destination? Do you travel reasonably well traveled roads to established resorts, or do you like to break your own trail and go back into the wilderness?

    The main difference in the way RWD behaves in the snow is that the back end can kick out or fish tail when spinning. Chains help a lot. Taking it easy on the gas helps, too (but you would already know that from driving in SD). On FWD, it's the front that goes sideways, and on 4wd it's all four wheels that can go sideways. RWD, 4wd, and FWD all seem to stop about the same (because all four wheels do the stopping). The rear tires can sometimes kick sideways going around an corner, especially if you get a little excited with the gas pedal.

    As for type of chain? I mostly own traction cables: mostly because they are the cheapest option. In my limited experience, real chains work the best, but they also tend to be the most expensive. I haven't tried the Z or diamond style. If $ were no object, I'd go with real chains. Practice putting them on at home in the sun, so you know how they go on. It makes it a lot easier to put them on when you're on the side of the road and it's cold and/or snowy if you already know how they work.

    There's no question in my mind that 4wd would be a better option, but I don't think it is an absolute necessity. RWD with chains and a skilled driver can do just fine.
    '98 K1500 Suburban LS 5.7 L 4L60E NV246 ARB
    '92 Ford Explorer XLT 4x4 4.0 L A4LD BW13-54 Trac-loc rear
    "My toys were the greasy cogs and springs and pistons that lay around all over the place, and these, I can promise you, were far more fun to play with than most of the plastic rubbish children are given nowadays." Danny in Roald Dahl's Danny The Champion of the World

  3. #3


    thx man for the advice! off to get chains now.......thinking the z pattern for now. agh...there goes 100 bucks. :(

  4. #4


    I getting SCC Super ZLT chains for my 4WD. There goes $200. Gonna get two sets.

    <edit>wow, I replied to a two year old thread </edit>

  5. #5
    Sr. Engineer
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Indianapolis, In


    Hey Gibson, that's OK. I was wondering about chains some time ago and you have refreshed my interest. Had a Corvair and with chains on it was unstoppable up to a foot of snow.
    2000 GMC YUKON SLT, 5.3L tow pkg, G80 rear/w 3.73 gear

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