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Alternative Traction Devices

Studless winter tires

Studless winter tires are now available. These tires have tire tread composed of special rubber compounds and tread designs that enhance their performance in snow and ice conditions.

Lightweight studs

In addition to the studless winter tires, motorists can still use lightweight studs for their traction needs. Washington retailers can only install lightweight studs in tires that meet new legal requirements established under Title 46 RCW 'Motor Vehicle,' Chapter 46.04. Your local tire retailer has information on fitting your vehicle with the appropriate lightweight tire studs based on your vehicle's tire size.

Tire chains 

On a front-wheel drive vehicle, you must install chains on the front two tires. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, you must install chains on the rear two tires. 

Chain alternatives

If your vehicle can not accommodate chains, the Washington State Patrol has a list of approved alternate traction devices (pdf 132 kb) that may be used when 'Chains Required' signs are posted on mountain pass highways. Please check your owners' manual or vehicle manufacturer recommendations before using any traction alternative.

Under extreme weather conditions, the Washington State Patrol can mandate that all vehicles chain up, including four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles. Drivers must then install chains on one set of drive tires.