Seizing the snow day? How to prepare for driving in the snow

Infographic about how to prepare your car for driving in snowy conditions
Quynh Truong/Staff

Related Posts

This semester is the first time I’ve lived in a place where it snows in the winter and the weather gets below 60 degrees. As a native Southern Californian, I didn’t realize how much work goes into preparing my car to drive in a place where it regularly snows during the winter. Whether you’re going up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend or planning to drive to Oregon, read on for tips from a Southern Californian on how best to prepare your car for driving through the snow! 

Replace your tires with snow tires

If you’re going up to the mountains for a weekend, you can skip this step. However, if you’re planning on living in a place where the weather gets below 45 degrees on a daily basis, don’t skimp on your tires. All-season tires will be OK for light snow, but if you’re planning on off-roading in the snow (I don’t know why you’d do that anyway), snow tires are the way to go. To save a few hundred dollars, try to get them used.

Don’t forget your tire chains or cables

If you’re driving through a chain-controlled area, as is likely to be the case on roads through the mountains in California, you are required by law to carry chains or cables for your tires. If you’ve never put on chains before, practice it a few times on your car before heading out out the snow, just to be safe. 

Get a snow scraper

It was a scary feeling to walk out of my apartment one day and not see my car until I realized it was covered in snow. I got in and started defrosting the front and back windows until I thought about it and realized that there’s way too much snow for a little bit of heat to defrost. My boyfriend got me a really nice snow scraper that I could use for my windows and even the body of my car. It’s a really handy tool to have so you can scrape off the snow and ice from your windows instead of awkwardly sitting in your car for 30 minutes, waiting for it to defrost. 

Lift up your windshield wipers

If you’re going to park your car in an uncovered area and you know it’s going to snow, lift up your windshield wipers first. Although you may feel weird doing it since this is a common prank among high schoolers, this is a good way to prevent your windshield wipers from getting stuck to your windshield due to the ice and cold! 

Slow down

I cannot stress this enough — drive slowly! I’m used to flying at 80 miles an hour on the highway (for legal purposes, that is a joke), but when you’re driving while it’s snowing (even if you’re on a flat stretch of highway), drive much slower than you’re used to, for your safety and the safety of others around you. You don’t want to go skiing in your car — save that for the slopes. 

We hope these tips will help you stay safe and secure on your way to the mountains during this beautiful snowy weather. Drive safe, Bears!

Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].