2003 Nissan Maxima SE: Snow weather

Hey Everyone,

I have been doing a lot of research lately and I am not sure what I should do. I have an '03 Maxima that is a good car except for the fact that it is horrible in the snow. It gets stuck in snow that I have easily gone through with previous vehicles that I have owned. The problem is that a significant amount of snow driving is unavoidable because of my job.

My question is should I trade this car in for one that is better in the snow or should I go the snow tire route? Will snow tires on this type of car make that much of a difference? If so, which ones and how many?

Thank you very much.

It’s not the car, it’s the tires.

You need a set of FOUR good-quality winter tires, and once you have used them in snow you will see an incredible difference. No, they don’t allow you to defy the laws of physics, so you still have to leave a much bigger distance between you and the car ahead of you, and you still need to reduce your speed. Incidentally, the term, “snow tires” is now archaic, and does not adequately describe the new-technology winter tires.

A set of FOUR good-quality winter tires will allow you to get going with little to no wheel spin, to take curves with less chance of spin-out, and most importantly, to stop in a significantly shorter distance. Shorter stopping distances=a lower potential for collisions, and that is of paramount importance.

As to brand, the top-rated is the Michelin X-Ice line, which includes a few different models. In addition to having great traction, Michelin winter tires have a significantly longer tread life than their competitors. All winter tires wear rapidly once higher temperatures set in, but during the winter you will have much less tread wear with Michelin winter tires than you would experience with other brands.

I agree, the problem is your tires, not your car. Go to www.tirerack.com and read the consumer surveys to see ratings for tires your size. Find some tires that perform well in snow.

And I’ll bet that if you look at the survey results for the tires you now have on the car, the reviews will show poor performance of that tire in snow (or, your current tires are so worn as to be useless in snow).

I just wanted to add that if anyone tells you that so-called “all-season” tires are sufficient, please ignore that bit of misinformation.

“All-season” tires are–in almost every case–three season tires.
There are a very small number of “all-season” tires that are adequate (please note that there is a big gap between adequate and good) in winter weather, but since there are no standards whatsoever for “all-season” tires, most are simply no match for a good winter tire.

Thanks a lot for the quick response. I will look into this. Appreciate it!

[i] All-season" tires are--in almost every case--three season tires. [/i] 

The only exception is if you live in Hawaii.

If you keep getting stuck in snow with the tires you have then winter tires will make a huge difference. But that doesn’t mean they are NEEDED for all vehicles or drivers in all areas of the country. ANY decent all season tires work fine in most areas of the country. Wife has well over 25 years and 700k miles of driving with nothing but all-season tires without ONE incident of ever getting stuck. Boston averages about 30" of snow a year…Southern NH 50"…And this is one of the snowier areas of the country.

Good point, Joseph!


Mike, I Agree. I Have Found All-Season Tires To Work Very Well In All Seasons And We Live In An Area Of Quite Extreme Winter Weather And My Wife And I Drive 55,000 To 60,000 Miles Per Year, Combined.

It gets stuck in snow that I have easily gone through with previous vehicles that I have owned.

The owner has a handle on this problem and also has the best solution. Some cars are just poor in winter conditions.

As suggested, the owner could go through the expense and bother of purchasing tires (and rims), installing, uninstalling, and storing snow tires or “winter tires” to see if it helps much.

If that’s not satisfactory then a different vehicle, that doesn’t require special tires in order to make it roadworthy, is the next move for safety’s sake.


How Old Are The Tires ?
How Many Miles On Them ?
Do You Know The Tread Depth Remaining ? It Can Be Measured, Easily.

Bald, worn out, or nearly bald or worn out tires of any type do no offer good traction on anything other than clean, dry roads.


I have absolutely proven to myself that the TIRES are the key to winter driveability.
How ?
By having two IDENTICAL trucks with very different tires on each.
1991 and 1992 Ford Explorers.
The 92 was the one go-to truck for all adverse weather conditions even to the point of leaving the 91 parked at my wife’s job to go pick her up myself.

The 91 was shod woth Michelin cross-terrain suv 235/75r15. ( after the Firestone recall )
The 92 originally had the recalled 235/75r15 Firestone Wilderness A/T, then the BFG all-terrain T/A ko ( too heavy a tire for the light Explorer ), then the reincarnate Firestone Destination A/T.

The 92 would go anywhere and do anything I wanted it to. ( no super off-road hunting excusions or the like )
Yet the 91 was no better than any other “all season” tire despite the words on the sidewall.

The original Firestone Wilderness A/T were the best all around tires I’ve ever owned.

I’m even quite displeased with the 275/65r18 Michelin LTX A/T2 that are on my 08 Expedition. I Wish I had some of those 'stones for this one.

A Agree. I Have Absolutely Proven To Myself That Not All All-Season Tires Are Created Equally.How ?

By having one brand / model all-season tire deliver mediocre winter traction and another deliver outstanding performance. It pays to investigate before purchasing.


Which brings to light the inherent problem with tire shopping and buying.

There is no dressing room in which to try them on first.

The trial and error we speak of that shows us good brands/types from poor takes YEARS and many dollars of experimentation.
— hence the OP’s question to us —
You can’t buy a set of tires, wait three months for the bad weather to set in, find out they’re not good enough and return them for some different ones.
Now you’re stuck with inadequate new tires for another two years or so!

…and if you ask a tire salesman, “Are these tires good in snow?”, I can almost guarantee that he will say yes, no matter how crappy they are in terms of winter traction.

In fact, if you were buying racing slicks, the salesman might make the same baseless claim about winter traction! Just as there are no standards for “all-season” tires, there are no standards for tire salesmen. That is why doing research–such as with the Tire Rack website–is what a consumer needs to do before buying tires.

The owner has a handle on this problem and also has the best solution. Some cars are just poor in winter conditions.

Agree 100%…And those cars should get winter tires…I just don’t like the general recommendation that winter tires are needed for snow no matter what car you drive.

I would efinitely keep the car and purchase Snow Tires as they do work a lot better then straight all season tires for sure. Probably your all seasons are somewhat worn and not giving you the traction you used to get which will account for this problem happening. Snow tires in deep snow are worth their weight in Gold as well as snow. They always suggest snowtires on all 4 wheels as this does give you more mobility then just the 2 on the front and as you do a lot of driving in it they will pay you back with the extra cost. Personally I like the Michelin models myself but Falken,Pirreli and others also make some good tires as well. How long you intend to keep this car and what you intend to replace it with may be factored into this as well for future thought.

There is no reason that a Maxima should not provide reasonably acceptable service in snow. Its the tires. That said, I drive 100 miles a day in all weather and while it would be nice to have several sets of tires for different conditions, for each of the cars, generally this is impractical for most people. All I have ever used is all season Goodyear radials. Problem one is storage, two is cost, three is tire pressure monitors, four is changing them, and five is the fact that roads are cleared to bare pavement within a day. Even in winter, 80% of driving is on bare pavement. Just IMHO unless you live way out in the sticks.