This question actually caused me to start this website at http://tirechaindealer.com. I thought to myself, if I wanted to purchase snow chains because I wanted to go skiing in Big Bear, where should I purchase them. I found all sorts of crazy answers on-line. So I started my research.
This post mostly refers to people wanting to purchase tire chains in Southern California including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and San Diego County. In this write-up I am only referring to chains for passenger vehicles and the light truck / SUV vehicles.
To answer this question, I of course want to give my first recommendation as being this website. However, realizing that there is no one size fits all answer, I will break it down some more.
In California, you typically have one of four places to purchase your snow chains.
1. If planning ahead, you can purchase them online. My personal recommendations of the best websites are as follows:
a. http://tirechaindealer.com – Rud Grip 4×4, Easytogo, Centrax, Olympia Sprints, Compact Grip.
b. http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=15706671 – Carries SCC cables including ShurGrip and SuperZLT. There is a lot of stuff on that site making it difficult to navigate.
c. http://www.vulcantirechains.com/ – Carries SCC SuperZ6 low profile cables.
2. Auto parts stores. My preferred store is Pep Boys which sells the SCC cables (Shur Grip and SuperZLT) at good prices. Most other auto parts stores will sell a selected brand. RUD is not in any of the major auto parts chains in California. My second choice is the SCC brand sold at Pep Boys. With the other stores, they are usually selling one of the other big brands such as Leclede and Quality. My opinion is that your best bet is with RUD or SCC.
3. Gas Stations near entry points to common chain up areas to the mountains. This is an acceptable place to purchase. Typically, the closer the gas station to the chain up point, the more expensive the markup on the chains. For example, if you are heading to Mammoth on HWY 395, purchase your chains before you get to Bishop.
4. At the chain up point. Avoid this option if at all possible. These people selling chains at the chain up point are out to make a quick buck and will gouge your wallet in every way they possibly can.
One other option that can be considered has to do with individuals with tire sizes that are not within the norm. I usually see this for people with over sized tires for their decked out monster pick up truck. There is a guy in San Diego that will make custom chains for you. His website is at http://www.chainsbysnowbird.com/. I have referred people to him in the past. The feedback that it have gotten has been generally positive. He will get you a set of chains that will fit. You will pay a premium. You have to visit his location. The chains are not simple to install. He will take care of you.
That’s all for today.