Travel Center

Tire Safety

Worn tires can't grip the road well and can be extremely hazardous. Are your tires winter ready? Check out these tips.


"All-Season" Isn't Best for Every Season

When it comes to snow or ice on the ground, all-season tires simply don't compare to winter tires. Consider investing in safety by having a set of winter tires so you're prepared for any winter conditions that Colorado throws at you.

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.


To be an approved tire under the Traction Law, they will need to have a snowflake mark (designating a snow tire) or a mud and snow (M+S) mark — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread. If you drive a four- wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle, all of your tires just need to have a minimum three-sixteenths inch tread.

An adequate tire under the Traction Law needs to have a minimum three-sixteenths inch tread on all four tires. If you're not in a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle, those tires need to be snow tires or have a mud & snow (M+S) rating.

You always want to put chains or alternative traction devices (like an AutoSock) on the "drive" wheels of the vehicle. You would install them on the front wheels of a front-wheel drive vehicle or on the rear wheels of a rear-wheel drive vehicle. On a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle, the chains or alternative traction devices are generally used on just the rear wheels, but to retain as much of the normal handling characteristics as possible, chains should be installed on all four tires.

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 one-eighth inch tread. While all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are great for getting going in slick or snowy conditions, when it comes to stopping, nothing is more important than your tires. In winter conditions, snow tires stop much more quickly than all-season tires. For more information about tire stopping distance, head to winter.codot.gov/tires.

To learn about the difference between all-wheel and four-wheel drive, keep reading.

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.

All that said, a front-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires will perform better than an all-wheel or four-wheel drive with all-season tires in nearly any turning or stopping situation. The key takeaway is that tires mean everything when it comes to stopping. Click here to see a video showcasing this fact.

Filed under:
Colorado: The Official State Web Portal