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  1. #1
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    Member No: 33295 rafal is an unknown quantity at this point rafal's Avatar
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    RE: Snow Chains Suggestions....

    So I decided to move to Seattle from Cali....guess what???....snow...

    I would appreciate any suggestions on the type and/or brand of snow chains that would be OK for a 2002 BMW 525i.

    Tires are 235/45/17 (almost new allseasons) and car has M-package so the clearances are smaller. I have seen regular "cable" chains and the "better" (as it was suggestions to me) "diamond" pattern chains. Any actual/personnal experiences with either type? What to look out for when buying?

    Thank you in advance...


  2. #2
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    Dead serious....buy an SUV....Ask me why

    I also moved up from the California, and I have driven extensively in the snow, in California, Utah, Idaho, Canada, and here in the Seattle area. We take at least two trips per year to go on ski vacations and have been in really ugly snowstorms where they shut the freeways down. We have done that for the past 20 years. I was also a partner in and successfully competed in a SCCA Pro Rally car so I understand slippery, scarry, and getting sideways.

    My experience with my 4 E39 cars has not been great in the snow and really not great here in Seattle. Both my 540's have had dedicated snow tires and I will not drive them set up that way in Seattle snow. These cars were not fun in the Salt Lake slush, but are truly horrible in the Seattle icy stuff. Two years ago, we got a ton of snow here. I had Blizzak snow tires on my 2002 540. After a week of snow turning to ice and new snow on the top of that, I got real sideways going down our driveway, barely made the turn at the bottom, proceeded to head down our one lane road, then got to the next slight decline. Same thing, got sideways. Went to turn around in our neighbor's FLAT driveway and got stuck. Had to rock the car to get moving and out of their driveway. Started back up the hill to our house and stuffed it into about 8" of snow/ice and that was it. Had to sand all the inclines and shovel the snow out of the way to get back home. Did a minor fix to my Audi Quattro and off I went and it was no big deal. Drove the Suburban the next day and no big deal. Sold the winter tires and wheels the following weekend and said never again!!!! My 540 is sitting in the garage waiting to have some work done on it, and I an damn glad I don't have to use it if I don't need to when it is icy out.

    For all of you that think I am not a good driver in snow, trust me, I am capable in most cars, but not my BMW's. When I read about all of you romping around during the winter, I have to figure the stuff you are on is sticky and dry, not moisture ladden and icy like it gets here in Seattle.

    Good luck and welcome to the great NW.
    2002 540 6 speed, Steel Blue/Black interior, totally loaded with every option, and now with built in Stealth One/Valentine 1. 18" Staggared Privat wheels. I am loving the power again!

    2003 525iT, Silver/Black, non-sport, 18" Staggered BBS RC wheels. T boned and traded away.

    2000 540 6 speed, Biarritz Blue/Sand, M5 shifter, XM Radio Valentine One/Stealth One hardwired in, 17" style 5 wheels
    Sold but never fogotten.

    2001 525i, stock, sold

    [IMG]][IMG]

  3. #3
    VCONDIS
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    Re: RE: Snow Chains Suggestions....

    Last night a guy parked his Nissan Titan pickup truck (California plates)in front of my house, partially blocking my driveway. We live in Idaho and there was a bunch of snow over ice and some slush. We had to go out, so I had to drive around him in my Subaru Legacy (AWD with Michelin x-ice snow tires). Coming back later I again had to drive carefully around him to get into my driveway, my only problem being him not leaving me enough space. Later though, when he tried to leave, he spend 20 minutes digging snow with his buddy to free his stuck pickup. I was amazed at that, in my Subaru I did not even realize it was slick in that spot. Our Subbie with X-Ice has so much more traction than my 528 with standard tires. I don't know about Seattle, but if you are dealing with slick roads a dedicated snow tire is definately going to make a huge difference over standard tires. Chains in my view are just for much more difficult conditions (mountains etc) and not the thing you use to drive in urban roads. Still the combination snow tires with chains as backup should let you take on Seattle winters.

  4. #4
    Craig in Canada
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    Why chains instead of snow tires or studded snows?


  5. #5
    Craig in Canada
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    Re: Dead serious....buy an SUV....Ask me why

    We get a lot of freeze/thaw, slush, snow salted to oblivion and snow packed into ice at intersections.

    I was seriously considering a set of studded snows the last time but they're technically illegal until you live north of a line about about an hour north of me and I decided not to sign up for the hassle.

    A lot of people think the "salt belt" winter conditions are not challenging, but they're wrong. The super-cold "squeaky snow" areas have it easy in terms of driving and traction. Any time we get a cold snap the tires get grip and everything gets easier. The mess, slop and ice is hopelessly slippery and clogs up any kind of snow tire.

    My E39 did really well on my first set of snows I had for it - the original Michelin Arctic Alpins. They're downfall was their Q speed rating and they started to balloon at speeds as low as 110-120kph getting downright dangerous in the dry on Interstate-class highways. Other than that they were a great blend of performance - I could drive in slop so deep that I didn't have the ground clearance to get through it. I ended up in the middle of my street (where it suddenly went unplowed about 2 houses from home) with all four wheel dangling. Since then I've never been totally happy with any snow tire I've had. The Dunlop M3s sucked (despite rave reviews everywhere I read). My current Hakkapeliitta RSi snows are "too extreme" - it's usually too warm for them. When it is -10C or -15C or colder they really rock.

    It seems I can't win in this "around freezing", snow, rain, ice, slush climate. All seasons suck, performance snows suck, full snows suck.


  6. #6
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    a plane ticket to Miami would solve all that :-)



    1997 BMW 840CiA
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  7. #7
    ExAlfa
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    I would never put chains on an E39 (more)

    I've seen the damage when they let loose - fortunately not my car. Anyhow, my car is an inch lower than a Sport and does fine in horrible Western New York snow. But you need four dedicated snow tires. I use Dunlop Graspics, but Michelin Alpin Ice is the top rated tire. The car is a bull in deep snow and slippery roads, but if you are in an area where chains-mandatory requirements are put in place like the chippies do in SoCal then you'd be better off with a different vehicle for winter, like a cheap used Soobie. FWIW your car will not show rust for about 8 years up there, so no worries. Just run it through a brushless carwash that has a chassis wash feature, like the better Laser Wash systems at gas stations. Nine bucks a month will keep it clean. FWIW I put the factory mud flaps on the back when I switch to the snows, with electrical tape on the paint where the edges of the mud guards touch to protect the paint. The rear valence gets hammered with road junk while the front does not (Dinan springs make the front flaps hit the road so they don't fit anyhow!)

  8. #8
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    Member No: 94220 Bimmer5Michael is an unknown quantity at this point Bimmer5Michael's Avatar
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    I dont drive my 540 much anymore but I would NEVER

    drive it in seriously bad weather conditions again. I just throw 4 75lb sacks of sand in the VAN and go if I really need to or drive the 4wd truck but the 540 is a joke in bad weather and besides it's just not worth getting out in the bad stuff.Michael - Chattanooga Tennessee
    BMWCCA 65795

    00 540 Sport / 6 speed, SaharaBeige Metallic / SamanaBeige II Montanna Leather, 35% tint, Xenons, DSP, CD Changer, Auto dimming rear view mirror, rain sensing wipers, fold down rear seat, Style 32 staggard wheels, Hankook Ventus V4 ES 245/45/WR17/95W Fronts and 275/40/WR17/98W Rears. 152,900 Smiles and climbing!

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  9. #9
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    Re: I would never put chains on an E39 (more)

    In general, my number one winter driving problem is ground clearance, and I have factory sport package ride height.

    Does your area, by chance, get lots of fluffy snow? If we get a lot of snow, it's never fluffy. It's always heavy, sticky, possibly ice pellets or raining at the same time. No matter what kind it is, the first thing they do is salt it, not plow it, and make this peanut butter stuff that is impossible to get any grip in.

    My first snows I had on the E39 (original Michelin Arctic Alpins)
    still managed to have enough grip that I could totally beach myself on an unplowed street of this heavy stuff with all four wheels dangling with almost no weight on them. From this I could back away and try another route.

    The point here is that the snow could lift the entire car off the road - you couldn't just rip through it with rooster tails of snow flying around no matter what tires you had.

    I can't fathom getting around with less ground clearance. Your conditions must be much different than mine.

  10. #10
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    Member No: 33295 rafal is an unknown quantity at this point rafal's Avatar
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    Re: a plane ticket to Miami would solve all that :-)

    Thank you for all the suggestions....
    I was thinking of chains because all the Police cars had them and they were doing fine on compacted snow/ice....
    In retrospect I think I will get a set of snow tires and minimize any driving when it gets bad...I realy hope this year in Seattle is not a re-play of 2008...

    Now I miss CA even more....

  11. #11
    ExAlfa
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    WNY Lake Effect Machine!

    Buffalo and Rochester snow is typically humid and deep when it falls. And then the salt nazis come out and paste the place, doubling up on intersections. But they do plow quite efficiently. I'm a fearless winter driver, and I go wherever the good skiing is so sometimes down dirt roads that have been plowed fairly recently but not as much as the paved streets. Just like mountain biking momentum is your friend, but the car isn't a superhero. The snow and springs are what keeps me from an M5 bumper cap, and I've thought of adding cap swaps as part of the snow tire change ritual. Winter number seven is upon us. Time for more fun.

  12. #12
    Craig in Canada
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    Re: WNY Lake Effect Machine!

    Well, I can practically see Buffalo from my office (I can see when the clouds are dumping on it over the lake), but the road conditions I end up with here are not conducive to fearless E39 plowing as you say. It's already too wet and heavy and the low ground clearance will cause so much drag (or simply lift the car off the ground) that it's hard to get around some times. They really need to learn to plow, then salt and not salt, plow later, then salt more.

    It's also warm enough that if they try to go without salt, then you get polished ice at all the stop signs and intersections within about 10 cars driving through. So then you feel like they have to salt it for safety (because it seems that most people still don't bother with winter tires around here). If it was consistently colder, it would be much easier to drive here. Fluffier snow, squeaky/sticky road coating which has grip instead of turning to ice when you pack it, roads that dry out because the slightly salty snow banks don't melt continuously for weeks at a time making it always wet and salty except freezing into black ice overnight.

    When we get really cold snaps, the road and cleanliness conditions improve greatly and my snow tires actually work well.

    Ugh - I can hardly wait...


  13. #13
    ExAlfa
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    Brine solution in Toronto? Experieced it?

    I thought Toronto was the city mentioned in an article read a few years ago where they switched to spraying a brine solution, which had an immediate melting effect and also had better coverage, didn't pelt cars with little rocks, and actually used 25% as much salt so it was less costly and also had less environmental impact to the soil. I know the local salt mafia would cringe at the thought, because they seem to use so much of the stuff around here. I would welcome it, though. Seems like sound thinking. Have you experienced any roads that were sprayed?

  14. #14
    Craig in Canada
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    Re: Brine solution in Toronto? Experieced it?

    I've never been able to tell the difference. I don't live in Toronto itself anymore, I just work here and I take the train in. I have seen liquid spreaders on a couple of our major highways. In the end, my issues are with: 1/ applying melters before pushing the snow out of the way first and 2/ the peanut butter which results from any melter method when applied to snow and not just to ice or after plowing.

    I believe the highway liquid melter application equipment can also spray a solution with traction compound in it (glorified sand?) I've seen that on one of the roads one Christmas Eve when some surprise lake effect after a day of heavy rain packed into an unexpected 1" of ice on all roads. The middle lane, only, had this weird coloured stuff all over and you could see where the truck applying it kept losing control briefly and the track of stuff weaved back and forth. Nifty. That trip home was part of my mental "business case" for studded tires.


  15. #15
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    Just wait until it gets sunny in July......

    about July 5th you will love Washington
    2002 540 6 speed, Steel Blue/Black interior, totally loaded with every option, and now with built in Stealth One/Valentine 1. 18" Staggared Privat wheels. I am loving the power again!

    2003 525iT, Silver/Black, non-sport, 18" Staggered BBS RC wheels. T boned and traded away.

    2000 540 6 speed, Biarritz Blue/Sand, M5 shifter, XM Radio Valentine One/Stealth One hardwired in, 17" style 5 wheels
    Sold but never fogotten.

    2001 525i, stock, sold

    [IMG]][IMG]

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