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2013 Toyota RAV4

I’ve just moved from Phoenix to Northern Colorado and I am not sure what kind of tires to get for my car. Is it necessary to get snow tires? Or will all season tires work for typical city driving? Do the more expensive tires really make a difference for the average driver? Any advice or suggestions?

Just my opinion, just for city driving, all season would be ok, if the city does a good job plowing and you are not in a hurry.

But people usually drive outside the city on occasion, and in the winter in that area, I suspect you would be better with snow tires. Unless you plan to stay home on days with snow forecast.

perhaps you could start with all-seasons and give it a try. See what your neighbors use. You can get snow tires and new steel wheels pretty quickly. I live in NH and drive 50 miles on the highway at least once a week, and have never needed snow tires. But I’ve never had to travel when there is more than an inch of snow on the ground, they do a good job plowing here.

You’ll be glad you put snow tires when the weather gets ugly. Its mandatory for us to put snow tires between Dec15th to March 15 (Province of Quebec).It is the only Province of Canada where you are required by law to put snow tires or you can be fined $300.

I use a set of summer tires and a set of winter tires on steel rims.In your case, a set of Mud and Snow tires(M+S) can do the job better than 4 season.

We live in a similar climate near the mountains, but with longer winters.

Both our cars have a set of winter tires on their own rims which go on in October and come of in April. The driving in snow and on ice is phenomenal.

The province of Quebec in Canada has seen good results from their law in terms of fewer fender benders.

If you go into the mountains, then you need snow tires. If you stay on the high plains, probably not, but it wouldn’t hurt to have them. The answer also depends on whether you have to drive in bad weather. If you have to get to work when there I see a lot of snow, then snow ties would be a big help. As mentioned above, an extra set of rims will pay off in the long run by saving on remounting tires.

You did not say if you moved for work or to be closer to relatives. But the people who live in the area where you are will have first hand knowledge of the conditions you will see. A tire store will want to sell tires of course but they can also say what seems to work well at a price range.

I’m not familiar with that area, so I can’t say much, but I will point out that if you try to get by with all-season tires then you want ones that are rated high for snow traction (which you can see on web sites such as Tire Rack) and you want no less than 6/32 tread through the whole winter.

Where in northern CO? Plains or mountains? Do you plan to drive in the mountains in the winter? If so, I’d get a separate set of winter tires on rims.

When you move up there, talk to the locals. They will be much better equipped to give you advice than we are.

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If you like the car and expect to keep it and drive in snow country, buying a set of winter tires on steel wheels brings a big plus in capability and safety. If you do your own switchover every fall and spring, the only money involved over the long run is the cost of the 4 steel wheels.

My first winter with my 1999 Honda and its OEM all season tires let me know the car was not very good on snow. I took my own advice (above) and have been very pleased with the year-round excellence of the car ever since.

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If your RAV4 is AWD it will never get “stuck.” For typical city driving (your words) I think newish all-season tires would be fine for most people that don’t have to head out into a storm. I have 2 similar vehicles, a Highlander and a Forester. I have snow tires (Blizzaks) for both and the difference in winter conditions is huge. Particularly stopping and turning. Shanonia’s right, if you plan to keep that vehicle for a while, winter tires are basically “free.”

When I lived in Steamboat Springs I always installed studded snow tires on all four wheels for the winter. I’m not sure if that’s allowed now though. Ask around when you get there what your neighbors do. I expect you’ll find most of them keep a full set of snow tires already mounted on rims, and they just swap to using those for the winter.