Driving 5 - 9 May 2016, do I need snow chains?

Driving 5 - 9 May 2016, do I need snow chains?

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jpswart82
jpswart82
9 posts
new member
Apr 27, 2016 - 2:37 PM

Hi,

I'll be driving to Ringoldswil (near Interlaken) from Frankfurt on the 5th of May. Then again leaving Switzerland to Italy on 9th of May, we want to drive Route 11 (Meiringen to Wassen), and the Gotthard pass.

Assuming that they routes are open, will I need snow chains around this time next week? And where would I get good information on whether the routes are open for cars closer to the time?

thank you for all the effort put forth in this site, it's got lots and lots of great info.

Arno
Arno
7719 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 27, 2016 - 3:31 PM

Hi jpswart82,

I'm glad to hear you like our website; thank you for expressing that here! Snow chains are mostly used on small mountain roads and on a packed layer of snow only. In many cases, winter tires are more useful if you expect to drive on normal roads with the possibility of snow and ice. Most pass roads are thoroughfares connecting regions and won't open until driving conditions are reasonably well. The two you intend to drive (Susten Pass and Gotthard Pass) will not be open early May. It's quite cold now in Switzerland, with snowfall as low as 800 m or so. The Susten Pass and Gotthard are estimated to open on June 10 and May 20.

It should not be any problem to drive to Ringoldswil, but you will have to adjust your route to Italy, or take the train if you can. You could drive to Kandersteg, take the car train to Goppenstein, then take the Simplon Pass, which is open, to Italy.

Road conditions can be found on myswissalps.com/ car/trafficinfo.

Last modified on Apr 27, 2016 - 3:32 PM by Arno
jpswart82
jpswart82
9 posts
new member
Apr 27, 2016 - 7:14 PM in reply to Arno

Arno,

Thank you for your help. Snow tires are not really an option since we will still be driving to florence, venice, salzburg and frankfurt for the next 16 days.

But I gather from your reply that I can avoid snowy roads by sticking to big motorways.

Will we be okay if we take the A2 to Italy?

jpswart82
jpswart82
9 posts
new member
Apr 27, 2016 - 7:34 PM in reply to jpswart82

What I would also like to know is if I will be okay sticking to normal tires with snow chains as an option? We've got the swiss travel pass that we will use during our stay, and will only really be driving to Switzerland and from Switzerland.

if there is ice on the roads, should we still put on snow chains, or can they only help in actual snow?

Please excuse me if

my questions seem ignorant, but i'm coming from Namibia, where it has never snowed.

jpswart82
jpswart82
9 posts
new member
Apr 27, 2016 - 8:34 PM in reply to jpswart82

Arno,

I've decided to err on the side of caution and to book winter tyres for our entire trip. Hopefully the warmer weather in other countries does not cause problems.

I would still appreciate if you could give me feedback on the suggested route to Italy via the A2 - is this route likely to be closed?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Apr 28, 2016 - 12:36 AM in reply to jpswart82

Hi JPSwart2 -

In general, winter tires are good in warmer months. The opposite - summer tires in winter months - could be troublesome.

These are generalities.

Slowpoke

jpswart82
jpswart82
9 posts
new member
Apr 28, 2016 - 6:27 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thank you Slowpoke,

I read somewhere that you cannot drive more than 80 km/h with winter tyres in warmer climes, but I cannot seem to find that reference, hence it was probably a fallacy. We're planning on driving about 6000km in total, and I thought it might be troublesome if we could only drive 80 km/h.

But yes, I really appreciate the advice from this forum. Otherwise I might just have run into more serious trouble than you want on a holiday.

Marek27
Marek27
1 post
new member
Apr 28, 2016 - 11:33 AM

Don't worry so much about winter tiers, we hardly have a snow in Europe in winter last years and most people still use this tiers no matter snowing or not. I have never heard about 80 km/h speed limit for this tiers, have a nice trip.I' ll be there in june , see you !

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Apr 28, 2016 - 12:18 PM in reply to jpswart82

Hi JPSwart82-

Although I retired a while ago, I used to work in development of chemicals for use in tires and rubber. So i have some not-too-detailed knowledge of the subject. I did not work for a tire company, but they were our customers, so we had to understand their needs.

Such a limit might have been correct and appropriate 20 or 30 years ago, because using a rubber in the tread of a tire that gave good winter traction had the trade off that the tires wore out quickly when they got hot....as at high speeds in hot weather.

Over the past 20 years or so, advances in tire tread technology have allowed tires with good snow and ice traction that are durable under normal driving conditions all year round. There are still tread rubbers and tread designs that are specially made for winter use, but they can survive other seasons. The more common use of this technology is to develop so-called "all season" tires which are good but not the most extreme designs for winter traction and are comfortable with any climate conditions.

Just make sure that your tires are correctly inflated. When you drive on an under-inflated tire , especially at highway speeds, it can get so hot from excessive flexing that it will destroy itself.

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
7719 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 28, 2016 - 4:11 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

I suppose you mean colder months, right? From the top of my mind, winter tires are best below 7-10 °C. When it's warmer, regular/summer tires are better. 'Better' means a shorter stopping distance and less risk of sliding. So driving with winter tires all year long is not a good idea. Driving with regular tires all year works fine in most European countries, like Marek27 said, but when a real winter sets in, you'll have to be careful. Personally I have all season tires. Sort of best of both worlds, but not top notch in any circumstances either. In the end, a defense driving style is what matters most. In any season, on any tire. Indeed the correct tire pressure is very important as well. I'd recommend jpswart82 to check that a couple of times along the way, as the pressure won't last for 6000 km.

Last modified on Apr 28, 2016 - 4:24 PM by Arno
jpswart82
jpswart82
9 posts
new member
Apr 29, 2016 - 7:29 AM in reply to Arno

Hi All,

I plan to take my tire monitor, which gives me realtime view of my tire pressure and temperature for each wheel. Thanks for all the tips

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Apr 29, 2016 - 12:32 PM in reply to Arno

<<"From the top of my mind, winter tires are best below 7-10 °C. When it's warmer, regular/summer tires are better. 'Better' means a shorter stopping distance and less risk of sliding.">>

I don't disagree, but the issue is by how much. Winter tires toda are quite tolerant of warm weather driving.

And, in fact, may be formulated and designed for superior traction on wet roads.

In my home state of Connecticut, we can have some very cold and snowy winters, or, relatively mild ones. All season tires are usually quite satisfactory for most people under those conditions, and that is also what I use these days. The practice of putting on winter tires is still much more common in Europe than in all but the coldest parts of the USA....especially in alpine countries.

Slowpoke

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