I have used cables on a Ford Windstart (mini van) and also on a Nissan Sentra and have had no issues. Had to use some zip ties because we lost a few of the hooks that secure the cables to the elastic tightening band.
I know rust is a big thing on cables but if you take proper care of them you'll be fine. We've had our for 3-4 years? now and no rust. To @jdunk 's point on ease of putting on. When i first got my set, yeah it took some time to figure out, but now i can get them on easily and in no time. I have never used them in mud but snow slush is pretty close and they did alright there too.
I've been driving in the mountain snow since I was 16 and I've never needed chains or cables. I've driven through snow up to my headlights for miles at a time without an issue. Good tires and technique go a long way.
When I was in California, I found CHP and Cal-Trans were a bit overly aggressive with requiring chains on the Sierra passes.
I think a good set of proper SNOW tires. (not M+S, but actual Snow Tires.) go a very long way.
I didn't grow up driving in mountain passes, but I did grow up in Wisconsin. We see our fair share of snow, ice, and the worst black ice.
If I had to choose between chains and cables I guess I'd go with chains.
Wanted to bring this post up again because I'd hate to start another one with all the advice above. So I now how a set of each for my patriot one set of cables and one set of chains. I ordered the cables from Amazon and they had some shipping issues so the order was delayed, I ended up going to Walmart and buying chains because I was heading to Yosemite that next day. Turns out I didn't need them.
So, with that being said, I may be going to Mammoth for new years where I KNOW I will need chains, but......which kit do I keep? Please vote above.
Like @Lars I also grew up in Wisconsin and learned to drive there. No one in Wisconsin use chains and studded tires are illegal, but you drive on snow a fair amount of the year. When I moved out to Washington state I was entertained by the number of people that put chains or cables on the go the the grocery store in the suburbs of Seattle when we receive an inch of snow. That being said I carry a set of cables because I couldn't find chains to fit my tire size. I've never used them though, never had a reason to, but Washington State Patrol requires you to have them on the passes. In my opinion they are only useful on hard packed snow where they can bite. I wouldn't use them on forest roads or trails.
Well, it looks like the park service wants me to have chains for a camping trip in April. So, now I'm looking for something that won't break with off road use. I really doubt I will need chains, but if they won't let me on the trail without them being packed, I guess I will have to get some.
Checking to see if there are any changes of opinion of this thread. I'm required to get chains to run here in Ca and headed to Colorado next month. I've never used cables but am curious. I'm running 33" Nitto grapplers. Thanks for any comments on what to get or if chains vs. cables is better.