Can My Car Handle a Colorado Winter?

It happens all the time: Someone buys a new car in the middle of summer, and it seems like they thought about every detail. Then winter comes, and it turns out the vehicle isn't ideal for the icy and wet terrain, low temperatures, and other cold-weather challenges. To protect yourself from this frustrating mistake, make sure the car you're looking for is Colorado-winter-ready.

Switching to Winter Tires

In northern Colorado, such as Fort Collins, you can see annual snowfall of 45 inches or more. On roads, thin streams of melted snow can refreeze into sheets of ice with barely any traction. Winter tires are made of softer compounds that stay strong and firm in the cold. These help protect you from skidding over ice or getting stuck in the snow. Where freezes and snowfall are likely, every vehicle should be prepared with winter tires.

Most cars today come with all-season tires, which are made to handle both hot and cold weather. However, in places such as Colorado where winters can be extreme, you really should switch to winter tires at the end of fall. Compared to all-season tires, winter tires have better traction at cold temperatures and against snow. All-season tires also have vague standards, meaning they could be closer to summer tires than winter tires.

Should You Get Tire Chains?

Icy roads are already risky, but what if you live or drive through a mountainous area with a lot of slopes? Fighting gravity on ice is a risky prospect, and that's why many people add tire chains to their cars. The nice thing about tire chains is that you can take them on and off as needed, which you should do as you approach or leave a risky area. Always make sure to get chains that suit your vehicle's tires, and follow the installation directions.

Picking the Best Winter-Weather Car

Snowy Colorado Roads - Colorado Motor Car Company‚ÄčImage via Flickr by christinejwarner

If you're currently between vehicles, you can make things a lot easier on yourself in the future by getting a car well-suited to winter. In general, most SUVs have solid traction and will be able to handle snow and wet or frozen roads with more reliability. Pickup trucks are also a generally good choice. Any vehicle with high ground clearance and four-wheel drive is usually a safer bet.

The Best Car Features for Winter

Another great way to deal with Colorado winters is to choose a vehicle with good winter features. You could get advanced safety systems for improved traction and driver alertness, or keep it simple with heated side mirrors. An engine block heater will help ensure that your car starts after sitting around, and a heated steering wheel and seats will make your drives more comfortable. Perhaps the best quality-of-life feature to handle the cold is remote start, which lets you turn on your vehicle from afar, warming up the interior by the time you get inside.

Colorado is a state with diverse weather, going from heat waves to rainstorms and snowfall. Protect your car and keep it in peak condition by preparing for everything the Centennial State throws your way. Whether shopping for your next car or improving your current one, think ahead to the cold months and stay safe.