26 December, 2008

20 miles per hour with chains does not make for efficient driving

The last week of driving around Seattle pretty much exclusively consisted of under 20 miles per hour, with chains on the front tires. Usually, this was in first or second gear. The result was that my gas mileage on the last fill was only 23.6 miles per gallon. Ouch. And to think, that was probably only about half the tank that was driven under those conditions, so I was probably making only about 15 mpg for the past week. I guess it makes sense.

The chains are a miracle in the sense that they enable you to drive when you otherwise could not. But they were not invincible. The first day I drove with them on I-90 and 40 miles per hour was obviously too fast, especially on roads that were not icy (side streets were bad, but highways were good). The result was a damaged chain, and highway panic. I kept driving with them like that for a week, until one of them fell off the car, and I finally threw it in the back.

Then, last night, my other chain broke in the same fashion. These chains are really meant for the snow/ice conditions only. Some other types can do okay on roads that are clear. I just could not bring myself to go through the tedious process of chaining up and unchaining, repeatedly.

So, it looks like next season, I will need a new set of chains. Maybe I should do some online shopping for them now, when it is not an urgent need.

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