Travel Center

Tire Safety

Driving on Colorado roads during winter requires specific tires to help ensure safe travel. Read the information below to check if your tires are winter-safe.

snow2@2x.pngWhat Tires are Safe?

When it comes to snow or ice on the road, certain tires are safer because they provide better traction in winter conditions. Consider investing in safety by having a set of winter-appropriate tires so you're prepared for any conditions Colorado throws at you. Below is a guide to approved winter tires — all of these tires are Traction Law compliant:

  1. Winter Tires 
    1. Winter tires are safest for snowy and icy conditions and are recommended for driving in winter weather. Tread patterns in winter tires provide extra traction and stability, while rubber compounds help the tire stay soft in cold temperatures for superior grip. All winter tires will have a mountain/snowflake icon and an M+S icon. For more information, view the USTMA Tire Information Service Bulletin.
  2. All-Weather Tires
    1. All-weather tires are considered safe in winter conditions, particularly conditions with heavy rain, slush or wet snow. Tread patterns in all-weather tires provide extra traction and stability, while rubber compounds allow the tire to stay flexible for various temperatures for grip on both wet and snowy roads and dry asphalt. Thus, all-weather tires are efficient year-round.
  3. Mud and Snow Tires (M+S)
    1. (M+S) tires are all-season tires that provide better starting, stopping and driving performance in snowy conditions than non-M+S tires. M+S tires are acceptable in light snow but are limited to the capabilities of winter tires. For more information, view the USTMA Tire Information Service Bulletin.

Tire Stopping Distance lengths

If a Traction Law is called, your all-season tires might not make the cut. If you don't have the proper equipment during a Traction Law, you could face fines as low as $130 or as high as $650.

Learn about Colorado's Passenger Vehicle Traction and Chain Laws.



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What Tires are safe?

It’s not recommended to use winter tires year-round. Rubber compounds in winter tires make the tire soft, which is designed for cold, winter conditions. Harder rubber compounds used in all-weather and all-season tires are better for warmer weather. Using winter tires during other seasons will wear your tires out faster, and will compromise your traction and handling on dry roads.

Motorists should remove their winter tires at the end of winter, or when the weather begins to get consistently warm. Beware, Colorado tends to get its largest snowfall totals in March.

Yes — applying only two winter tires diminishes the tires’ effectiveness.

Putting winter tires on just the rear wheels eliminates steering response at the front. Having only two front winter tires puts the vehicle at risk of “fishtailing” and having the back end of the car spinout.

Yes — cold temperatures and winter weather conditions occur statewide. Winter tires, all-weather tires, and mud and snow tires are the safe options for driving in winter weather.

All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are not the same, but under the Traction Law, both are compliant as long as all the tires have a minimum 3/16” tread depth. While all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive may help you accelerate on slick or snowy terrain, when it comes to stopping or turning, nothing is more important than your tires. In winter conditions, winter, all-weather and mud and snow (M+S) tires stop much more quickly than regular all-season tires.

There are two main kinds of four-wheel drive — part-time and full-time. With part-time four-wheel drive, most vehicles are rear-wheel drive until the driver manually puts the vehicle in four-wheel drive. With full-time four-wheel drive, all four wheels are always engaged.

With all-wheel drive, sensors automatically determine which wheels should get power to maximize traction. During normal conditions, most all-wheel drive vehicles use just the front wheels.

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