Difference between revisions of "Chains"

From WikiSki
Jump to: navigation, search
(New South Wales)
(New South Wales)
Line 11: Line 11:
:* the Island Bend/Guthega Road for its full length
:* the Island Bend/Guthega Road for its full length
:* the Alpine Way between Thredbo and Tom Groggin
:* the Alpine Way between Thredbo and Tom Groggin
:* the Snowy Mountains Highway within the cofines of the National Park
:* the Snowy Mountains Highway within the confines of the National Park

Revision as of 12:37, 10 January 2009

Snow Chain Regulations

New South Wales

NSW Chain Map (click)

2009 - June 2010

In New South Wales, if you are driving a Two Wheel Drive (2WD) vehicle, you must carry properly fitting snow chains from 1 June to 10 October on the following roads:[1]

  • Kosciuszko Road beyond Sawpit Creek (Park Entry)
  • the Island Bend/Guthega Road for its full length
  • the Alpine Way between Thredbo and Tom Groggin
  • the Snowy Mountains Highway within the confines of the National Park

Chains may also be required in certain weather conditions on the Alpine Way between Jindabyne and Thredbo and the Snowy Mountains Highway - for this reason the RTA recommends that chains be carried in these areas during winter. In addition, you should check road conditions before you travel.

Snow chains should be fitted when directed by authorised NPWS, RTA, and Police officers.

Four Wheel Drive (4WD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles are currently not required by law to carry snow chains but due to the high incidence of 4WD vehicle accidents in Kosciuszko National Park, the RTA now recommends they do - especially if drivers have little experience driving in snow/ice risk sections.

NSW Police and the RTA conduct random chain inspections throughout the season (usually on sunny, clear days) on the road to Perisher and all eligable cars are checked for compliance. You will receive a fine in excess of $300 if found not to be carrying chains.

Changes from June 2010 -

Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination
Snow Tyre symbol
Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is proposing a new regulation that will require vehicles with four wheel drive transmission systems to be fitted with winter tyres or to carry and fit snow chains when directed. The regulation will apply on designated snow and ice risk sections in the Alpine Region between the June and October long weekends and will include large off-road vehicles, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and all wheel drive vehicles (AWDs).

The new regulation will be introduced in the 2010 ski season. Throughout 2009 the RTA will communicate the details of the legislation to Alpine Region residents and visitors , allowing a full ski season before the regulation applies.

A discussion paper has been prepared and is the basis for a state-wide consultation process aimed at seeking community views on the proposed new regulation which will require all vehicles to carry and fit snow chains as directed when travelling in the Alpine Region during the ski season.

  • Designated snow and ice risk sections will be extended to include the Alpine Way from Penderlea to Bullocks Flat ski-tube terminal and on to Thredbo.
  • A graduated scheme will be used where 4WD will be required to fit chains only in severe conditions.
  • 4WD (incl AWD and SUV) with snow tyres (snowflake in mountain peak symbol) will be exempt from the carry and fit requirements.


In Victoria all vehicles must carry chains in the alpine areas of the major ski resorts of Mt Hotham, Falls Creek, Mt Buffalo and Mt Baw Baw. Victoria Police are currently developing new regulations relating to fitting chains. This section will be updated when more information is available. Mount Buller and Lake Mountain have special arrangements in place that require 4WD vehicles to carry chains only on certain days. 2WD vehicles and all overnight visitors must carry chains at all times.

Vehicle Preparation

  • Check your radiator for antifreeze to be prepared for colder temperatures.
  • Check your tyres. Ensure they are inflated to the recommended pressure and the tread is in good condition.
  • All season or winter tyres can be helpful. These can have a relatively deep and aggressive tread or different rubber compounds. Some have the letters MS, M/S, M+S or the words MUD AND SNOW moulded or stamped into the sidewall, while dedicated winter tyres carry the 'snowflake in a mountain' symbol (see above).
  • Always carry chains. Make sure they are the correct size for your tyres and are in working order. Ensure that you know how to fit them and if they are hired fit them prior to leaving the shop.
  • Check your brakes, windscreen wipers, heater, rear demister and exhaust system are in good order.
  • Make sure you know if your vehicle is Front Wheel Drive (FWD) Rear Wheel Drive (RWD), 2 Wheel Drive (2WD), 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) or All Wheel Drive (AWD).

Items to Carry

Consider carrying some or all of these items with you:

  • A tarpaulin, ground sheet or old blanket. It can make fitting chains more comfortable if you have to lie on the ground on wet snow.
  • An old pair of gloves and an old towel to clean your hands after you have fitted chains.
  • An ice scraper or brush to clear any snow build up from your windscreen. An old credit card can sometimes help if you have ice, or a plastic ice tray from the fridge.
  • Water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing in case you get stuck.
  • An extra car key in you pocket. A number of motorists have locked themselves out of their cars when putting on chains and at ski areas.

Alpine Driving

Many roads in alpine areas in Australia are in steep mountainous terrain. This can make driving difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with the roads. When driving in alpine areas the following tips should be used:

  • Allow time. Trips to the mountains can take longer during winter than other times of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or snow or ice on the road. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Check road conditions before driving - if conditions are bad consider adjusting your schedule, stopping early and heading up once conditions improve.
  • Keep windscreen and windows clear. You may want to stop at a safe place to use a brush or scraper.
  • Use air conditioner in conjunction with heater for quick demisting. The air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier even when the heat setting is on warm.
  • Slow down. A highway speed of 80 kms an hour may be safe in dry weather but is an invitation for trouble on snow and ice. Snow and ice make stopping distances much longer, so keep your seat belt on and leave more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Bridges and shady spots can have black ice on the road.
  • Remove snow from roof / bonnet / boot - it may 'look cool' up there, but snow falling from your car can be a hazard to other traffic and you can be fined.
  • The speed limit in the Koscuiszco National Park is 80kph during winter.
  • Avoid braking hard, sudden stops and quick direction changes. Use engine braking if possible to slow you down.
  • Be more observant. Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions. Slow down and watch for other vehicles
  • Diesel Vehicles should fuel up close to the snowfields. The fuel in alpine areas is an Alpine Diesel and has a lower freeze point and additives to stop the fuel system waxing up.
  • If stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or carbon monoxide problems.
  • On narrow roads, the vehicle heading uphill always has right of way. It's much harder to start moving when heading uphill and if forced to stop the car may lose traction and get stuck.
  • 4 WD, 6 WD or a gazillion WD will not make a skerrick of difference if you start sliding on ice.
  • Stop, Revive, Survive. Take a break from driving every 2 hours.

Fitting Chains

In extreme conditions chains may need to be fitted to the drive wheels of your vehicle due to snow or ice on the road. Sometimes you will be informed by rangers, police or resort staff of this requirement, either in person or by a sign on the side of the road. Other times you will need to make the decision on your own. You should only put chains on if there is snow or ice on the road. Often if there is only a light dusting of snow they will not be required but you should drive with extreme caution. If travelling out of the snow, remember to remove the chains as soon as it is safe to do so. Leaving chains on when they are not required damages the road and can damage your car.

  • If you are in a Front Wheel drive vehicle the chains are fitted to the front wheels of the car.
  • If you are in a Rear Wheel Drive vehicle the chains should be fitted to the rear wheels of the car.
  • If you are in a 4WD or AWD vehicle chains can be fitted to the front, rear or all 4 wheels. If you are unsure which wheels to fit the chains to, check the owners manual for your vehicle or with the manufacturer. With some types of transmissions chains must be fitted to all 4 wheels.
  • If hiring chains check that they fit your vehicle prior to leaving the shop to ensure that you have the right size chains. It can be very inconvenient to have to turn around once you realise later that your chains don’t fit and you cannot continue your journey.
  • Slow Down! When driving with snow chains speed should be kept to a minimum. You should not travel any more than 20-30 kph with snow chains on as it can damage both your car and the road.
  • When fitting chains pull completely off the road to the left. Do not stop in a traffic lane where you will endanger yourself and block traffic. Use a chain fitting bay if one is available.
  • Chains should not create banging noises when driving, you should just hear a rumble. If you hear a banging noise the chains are loose and hitting part of the car. Stop and tighten the chains or tie up any loose ends - failure to do this could damage your bodywork or suspension.


If you need to park your vehicle in an alpine area:

  • Ensure that parking is allowed where you plan to park. Many of the resorts have specific times when you can and can't park. Often access is required to day parking areas by machinery to clear roads etc, so overnight or after hours parking may not be permitted. If in doubt, ask a resort empoloyee or ranger.
  • Leave the vehicle in gear if it is a manual or 'Park' if it is an automatic with the parking brake off. The parking brake can freeze on leaving your vehicle stuck. Chock your wheels if parked on a slope.
  • Lift your wiper blades off the screen. This will stop your wipers from freezing to your windscreen, although there is a TINY chance that a small avalanche will launch off the roof of your car and slide down your windscreen and bend your windscreen wipers.