Where to Buy Tire Chains in California

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.

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11 Responses to Where to Buy Tire Chains in California

  1. Maureen Hodge says:

    Could you please assist me, we are travelling from las vagas to mammouth mountain in early Feb this year we are travelling from the UK and hiring a car in las vagas. We have asked the hire company if they rent them but they do not. We will either need to find some where to purchase them or hire them. We will coming via death vally.
    I look forward to your reply.
    M Hodge

  2. Brian Nettles says:


    You could purchase your chains at the Chevron Station in Big Pine along Highway 395. Roger is the store owner and he has the best pricing. The only caveat you have is that no one rents snow chains. You cannot return them. So when you are done, you will need to give them away or throw them away unless you want to take them all the way back to the UK.

    Check the road conditions on-line before you get there. I believe dialing 511 may also get you road conditions when you are near.

    From what I have seen in Mammoth is that you may need the chains to get up the mountain on HWY 395. You will more likely need chains when you get off of HWY 395 getting into the area of Mammoth Lakes and they will insist you put them on there.


  3. Maureen Hodge says:

    Thank you for your help, one more question which is the quickess way to mamouth for las vagas.

  4. Brian Nettles says:

    Well, If it were me, I would likely take the road to Pahrump, head over to Shoshone and make your way up the Ashford Junction and pass Badwater. You had best check it out on Google Maps. There is no straight trip, but you will be getting a scenic one. You will need to head out of Death Valley on HWY 190 which ends up in Lone Pine. I took my kids on a trip to Death Valley a few years ago in February and it was just a delight.


  5. seo new york says:

    I am planning a ski trip and understand I need to at least have tire chains with me. Anyone know where to buy them (I’m guessing walmart?) and about how much they cost?

  6. Brian Nettles says:

    I would assume you are asking about New York? If you buy them from our site at http://tirechaindealer.com, you should receive them in about 3-4 days depending on the model. If you need to purchase locally, try any auto parts store. Walmart probably sells them as well in the New York area.

  7. Jeannie says:

    i am planning a trip to Tahoe Vista arriving via San Jose and driving up. if there is requirement for snow chains where is the best place to purchase them especially that I arrived at 8:10 PM I look forward to your reply thank you

  8. Brian Nettles says:


    I would check two things. This web page has the up-to-date road conditions reports statewide. Check if there is a snow-chains warning for your highway.

    Also check the weather report to see if there is expected stormy conditions on the way.

    As to where to purchase, we have a great line-up of product. If you need them more immediately, go to Pep Boys or another automotive parts store.

    Best wishes.

  9. thank you for yer referrals Brian,

    preciate it I do —

    I always endeavour to make shure the chains – cables I provide are the *perfect* fit and the client provided w everything they need to be able to install – remove them in the easiest fashion.

    I DON’T ship, so should a person contact me that is unable to present their vehicle for my personal fitment service I will be happy to refer them to you if you like.
    here’s what has been said about my service –

    GOOD onya


  10. Brian Nettles says:


    When I was in California, I use to refer quite a few people to you. Usually it was because they had really big tires on their pickup truck and I did not have anything that fit their tires. The feedback was always positive and that was good, so I really have no problem with promoting your business (of course I will try to sell to them myself first).

    A year ago, I move to Arizona and of course took the business with me, so I will not be able to send so many people your way.

    But anyways, I am glad your snow chain business has done well for you. You are one of the few stops where someone can go to get tire chains that are Made in the USA.

    Best wishes

  11. Dann says:

    Rent a 4-WD with snow tires and skip the chains.

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