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Tips for Winter Driving in Big Bear

Before coming “Up the Mountain” for some slope time at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, please be sure you and your car understand the conditions you may encounter. Here are a few tips you may not have thought of when driving in the mountains.

Before you leave, check your tire pressure. Balance the pressure in all 4 tires and check the spare. Don’t over inflate! You are more likely to slip and slide. We really do have, “Twisty Mountain Roads”, just like it says in the brochures. Throw a can of flat fixer under the seat. Don’t put it in the trunk, or you’ll have to warm it up when you need it.

Open the hood and check your radiator fluid. Have you been running on mostly water, because it is always warm and sunny where you live? Make sure you actually have antifreeze in the system. You don’t want to wake up your first morning and find the radiator hoses frozen. Recently, nighttime temps have been in the low teens. Water becomes ice 20 degrees higher than that.

Check your battery fluid level. Distilled water only! Remember, it is cold! Give your vehicle the advantage it needs when there’s a 40-50 degree change in temperature in one day.

If you’ve been running only water in your wiper fluid container, there’s a good chance it will freeze, expand and break the container. Due to EPA regulations, it is hard to find extreme low temperature washer fluid in Southern California, but most are rated to freezing and are a much better choice than plain water. Spend the few dollars for that gallon bottle. If nights are below 20 degrees, add some Rubbing Alcohol to the washer fluid, to help prevent freezing.

Do your windshield wipers work? Do they actually wipe the glass or just streak the dirt? We’ve driven in post storm weather and had to constantly wash and wipe the windshield from all the road spray. One oncoming car can render visibility to almost nothing from hitting that little puddle in the road.

Check and top off your oil and gas. There are stations at the bottom of each of the highways that come into the mountains. Take a few minutes to ensure an easy drive.

We need to mention the tire chains. Carry tire chains, or cables. A one-time investment in chains can literally save your life and those around you.

Learn to install your own chains. Do it where you park your car at home. Drive a block or two. Uninstall the chains and pack them up. You learned what you needed. A small tarp to cover the ground is a good idea.

If you are coming during storm conditions, you WILL be stopped to put on chains. The CHP sets up pullouts on the roads and you will be turned around if you don’t have chains. There are usually installers available at the pullouts. This can cost about half the price of a set of chains. Do it yourself.

Does the rear defroster work? If travelling light, pick up a couple bags of sand and throw them in the trunk or even on the back seat. This makes a world of difference, especially in soft snow.

Do carry some food, some water, and a blanket or two. There have been times that traffic has been stalled for several hours during snowstorms. You will be glad you prepared.

 More Winter Driving Tips;

  • Mountain Driving – Big Bear, CA – The snow is here and driving in the winter terrain can be challenging. Caltrans, California Highway Patrol (CHP), U.S. Forest Service, San Bernardino County Sheriff, San Bernardino County Fire and the Big Bear Lake Resort Association have compiled winter driving tips for motorists who plan to travel to the mountains during the winter season.
  • WSDOT – 2012 – Winter driving coming, so get ready now – Always “know before you go” and get the most recent roadway information, winter-driving tips, car-preparation advice and information at the Washington State Department of Transportation’s winter driving website. Here’s what …
  • Winter Driving Tips – Caltrans District 8 – State of California – WINTER DRIVING TIPS. Inland Empire – Winter weather can be alarming and hazardous for drivers. The best defense is not to venture out on the roads during stormy weather, but if you must drive, use caution, common sense …

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