Can you just buy snow chains on the way? Driving from Reus/Barcelona to Andorra

Can you just buy snow chains on the way? Driving from Reus/Barcelona to Andorra
Started by NDenny in Ski Chatter - 8 Replies
To Create or Answer a Topic
I have rented a car from Reus but the car rental company doesn't provide snow chains or snow tires.

Can I just set off on my journey and expect to be able to pick up a set at a roadside fuel/service station?

Not sure what else I can do - I cannot preorder in UK and take them as you do not know precisely what car you are going to be given.

Any thoughts or reassurance will be appreciated.
Would be far more concerned by the lack of winter tyres which are an essential from safety, insurance and potentially legal point of view. Snow chains are are largely redundant.
Thanks Ranchero - checked the AA site on the legality and the rules for Andorra are as follows.

Winter tyres – RECOMMENDED*

*Note – from 1 November to 15 April and if roads are covered in snow, slush or ice outside these dates. Tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 4mm.

Snow chains – REQUIRED (should be carried and used as dictated by local signs or road conditions. Reduced speed limits may apply).

I'll be sure to check the policy as well.
I agree with Ranchero, driving in the mountains in winter without winter tyres is not a good idea, but as there is no legal requirement to fit winter tyres in Spain you would probably have difficulty getting a hire car with them fitted.

In Andorra it is mandatory to either fit winter tyres or carry snow chains between 1st November and 15th May, failure to do so could result in a 180 euro fine. So you will have to get some from somewhere, they are called "cadenas para nieve" in Spanish.
Edited 1 time. Last update at 08-Feb-2019
Even if there is no legal requirement be careful of terms like 'reasonable care,
Appropriare use' in your insurance clauses. Anyone driving without winter tyres is really on a tight rope in event of needing to claim.
Two weekemds ago a buddy living in BCN came up to visit us. I warned him about snow in the forecast for his drive home as he had only (brand new, but in snow pretty useless) summer tires and only snow socks for the rears and suggested it might be wiser to take the bus, but he decided to drive up. We parked his car in the garage at our rental apartment up in Arinsal to avoid parking fees down in La Massana where we live and to not having to dig his car out of the forecasted snow.

Sure enough, when it was time for him to go home the snow was falling heavily and he was really concerned as he has not much experience driving in snow. I offered to drive the car down for him, but after a short drive we were head to head with a bus going in the opposite lane. I had been keeping a bit left in the lane to avoid potentially slipping into parked cars on the narrow street, and when I tried to steer back into the right lane again I had zero traction on the front wheels no matter how slow I was going. There was now three meters between us and the bus and we were both at a stand still. I felt like an idiot as I was now the guy in a Spanish plated car blocking the road which I normally curse myself when I am driving our 4x4 with snow tires. Luckily the snow socks gave me enough traction to reverse uphill while redirecting the car into the lane and the bus could get by. We krept down at 20 km/h until we reached clear roads and my friend could proceed back to BCN.

I see a lot of snow socks on Spanish cars coming up and although they can get you out of a bind I don't have much faith in them for any kind of distance driving or at any considerable speed. Maybe my friend's snow socks were of a crappy design, but they kept coming off and going any faster than 40 km/h was impossible. The exact words of my friend were "Never again will I drive up here in winter."

Normally they are really good at keeping the roads clear in Andorra, but during a heavy snowfall it doesn't matter if they are out in full force, they just can't keep up.

If you do get real chains make sure you know how to put them on before setting off. The last thing you want to do is trying to figure out how to fit them on with a raging blizzard going on with a long line of cars backed up behind you.

You may also want to look into the various versions of "plastic" spike chains available. From what I understand they are easier to fit and still do a much better job than snow socks and probably light enough to put in your luggage vs real chains.
Edited 2 times. Last update at 10-Feb-2019
I appreciate that you're hiring some distance from the skiing, so winter tyres are probably no on the menu for a cheap rental. That's probably why the rate is cheap - because the assumption is you'll only be driving in the town or surrounding coastal area. You should cancel/amend the booking, looking to hire a car with winter tyres for definite, and highly desirable to have chains too. I know, this is easy for me to say and I appreciate this isn't what you'll want to hear. Trouble is, what happens when you hit conditions like this

which are not suitable for chains and need winter tyres? I'm in our own car on winter tyres and we managed fine, even when the snowplough forced me to plant the right wheels deep into the snow piling-up against the barrier. Summer tyres would have been lethal and chains won't work in this sort of alternating snow/slush/tarmac surface.
Edited 5 times. Last update at 10-Feb-2019
Snow socks don't provide as much grip or breaking performance as traditional chains. The Swiss equivalent of the AA/RAC carried out some tests, the results are in German, but you should nevertheless be able to see the differences in performance
Due to the wording of the law they are not legal for use in some countries when the blue snow chains obligatory sign is displayed.

In January I drove to Italy via the St Bernard tunnel in conditions similar to those in Msej449's video. On the way I passed a large Mercedes coupe that was snaking its way up the road with its back wheels spinning furiously and a BMW saloon that was stationary in the middle of the road, both of them were on summer tyres. It doesn't take much for a car fitted with summer tyres, especially a rwd one to get into trouble on a mountain road in winter.

I think it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to get a hire car fitted with winter tyres in Barcelona, but you can get them with chains

Topic last updated on 11-February-2019 at 07:22

Not a Member?

FREE Snow Reports by e-mail.

Save on Ski Hire

Save up to 50%

+5% for 4+ Ski Packs

+10% for 10+ Ski Packs

Discount Ski Hire

7th day Free on selected dates

Ski Hire Shops in Pal-Arinsal and La Massana.


Sponsored Links

Andorran Snow Reports

Where is there snow in Andorra?

February 22, 2019

Fresh Snow is reported by Canillo, El Tarter and Soldeu.

 At least 3 Ski Resorts in Andorra are reported to be open.

  Search Hotels

Pal-Arinsal Hotels
Pal-Arinsal Hotels
Pal-Arinsal Hotels
Pal-Arinsal Hotels

 Chalets & Apartments 

Please Share if you like this page

Forum Listing Key

Unread Post
Hot Topic
Sticky (important)

The views and opinions presented in the J2Ski Forums are solely those of their respective authors and do not represent those of J2Ski Ltd. Objectionable Content may be notified by sending a Private Message to Admin.

J2Ski logo


Snow Reports
by eMail