Washington’s standards for tire chains, studded tires, and their use and approval can be found in Chapter 204-24 WAC.
What qualifies as traction devices?
The following equipment items are approved for use as traction devices wherever traction devices are required by WSDOT:
• Tire chains (WAC 204-24-020)
• Studded tires (WAC 204-24-030)
• Traction tires –Tires labeled as all–season, all–weather, snow tire or studded (must be labeled M+S or with the mountain/snowflake symbol on the sidewall) qualify so long as they meet the standards for traction devices as set in WAC 204–24–040.
More information on approved traction devices, please visit WAC 204-24-040.
When can I use studded tires?
Studded tires are approved for use from November 1 to March 31. WSDOT determines additional periods in which they can be used.
There is nothing in the law that provides for any special permits or exceptions for driving with studded tires – even for out-of-state visitors – outside of the time periods identified by the WSDOT. No personal exemptions or waivers are issued.
Studded tires are not allowed on vehicles over 10,000 pounds. For more information see WSDOT’s studded tire page.
I drive a vehicle with studded tires. When WSDOT requires chains to be put on, do I need them with studded tires?
Yes. Studded tires are not a substitute for chains.
Am I required to carry chains in my vehicle?
It’s important for all vehicles to be prepared to have adequate tires and equipment when traveling over the passes. Chain law and traction devices requirements can be put into effect at any time for all types of vehicles.
All vehicles and combinations of vehicles over 10,000 pounds must carry sufficient tire trains to meet the requirements of WAC 204-24-050 from November 1 to April 1 of each year.
Studded tires do not satisfy state chain requirements. If chains are required on your vehicle, you’ll have to install them even on studded tires.
I have an all–wheel or four–wheel drive vehicle. When “Chains Required” signs are posted, do I have to use chains?
WAC 204–24–050 states:
• All AWD or 4WD vehicles under 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW) are exempt from chain requirements when all wheels are in gear and are equipped with approved traction devices, provided that tire chains for at least one set of drive tires are carried in the vehicle.
• If your AWD or 4WD vehicle vehicle has over a 10,000 pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) you MUST install chains.
I can’t use regular cable chains because there’s not enough clearance in the wheel well. What other approved traction devices can I use?
It is recommended the vehicle consult their owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer suggests be used as a traction device for their vehicle. The following alternative traction devices are certified by their manufacturer as meeting or exceeding chain requirements in accordance with WAC 204-24-035 which are therefore considered approved for use when “Chains Required” signs are posted in Washington State provided that the product meets the requirements for use set forward by the manufacturer (see the Alternative Traction Devices Chart for additional detail):
Where can I find information on the chain requirements for vehicles and combinations over 10,000 pounds GVW?
The State Patrol’s Commercial Vehicle Division (CVD) has a Chaining Requirements brochure that illustrates chaining 2-4, 5, and 6 or more axles. It is available at all Washington State Patrol offices and weigh stations. For additional information, see the Commercial Vehicle Division.
You may also call the Washington State Patrol Equipment and Standards Section in Olympia at (360) 596-4017 or send your inquiries via e-mail to [email protected].