Lake Tahoe Winter Driving Checklist

By Tahoe Staff | Thursday, January 14, 2016

We understand that many visitors to this area don't have a lot of practice in Lake Tahoe winter driving conditions, but it's important that you educate yourself on safety tips before you arrive and are caught in a snowstorm. Don’t be that driver in Tahoe with just a tiny portion of defrosted glass! Scrape all the windows from front to back. And while you're at it, read though this list of important items to check before driving snowy roads. It could save you time, money or even your life!

  • Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater and exhaust system are in top condition.
  • Check your antifreeze and be ready for colder temperatures.
  • You may need to add concentrated windshield washer fluid to the windshield washer fluid reservoir to prevent an icy windshield.
  • Check your tires. Make sure they are properly inflated and the tread is in good condition.
  • Always carry chains. Make sure they are the proper size for your tires and are in working order. You might want to take along a flashlight, chain repair links and gloves. Chains must be installed on the drive wheels. Make sure you know if your vehicle is front or rear-wheel drive. There are regular checkpoints during snowy weather to make sure all 2WD cars have chains. In most conditions, 4WD cars are not required to have them, but that's not always a given. Be prepared and have chains no matter what.
  • Other suggested items to carry in your car are an ice scraper or commercial de-icer, a broom for brushing snow off your car, a shovel to free your car if it is snowed in, sand or burlap for traction if your wheels should become mired in snow and an old towel to clean your hands.
  • It is also a good idea to take along water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing. A lengthy delay will make you glad you have them.
  • Weather conditions may warrant detouring traffic from the main roadway. It is strongly suggested that drivers always keep an updated map detailing the areas of travel.
  • If you have a mobile phone, preload the Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) phone number (see below) for convenient, updated road conditions or download their app.
  • Put an extra car key in your pocket. A number of motorists have locked themselves out of their cars when putting on chains and at ski areas.

Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN):

Call (800) 427-7623 for up-to-the-minute information in California and Western Nevada (Lake Tahoe/Reno Area). The number is updated as conditions change, and is voice-activated for safety and convenience.

Courtesy of the California Department of Transportation