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Are Nissan Altimas Good In Snow? Winter Performance Expectations

Are Nissan Altimas Good In Snow?  Winter Performance Expectations

When snow covers the roads in your neighborhood, you’ll be glad you own a Nissan Altima. One of the most popular sedans since its introduction in the early 1990s, the Altima has proven itself to be a solid car to drive down a snow-covered highway. 

If you’re wondering just how well a Nissan Altima will perform in winter driving conditions, here’s what you can expect!

Nissan Altima Snow & Winter Performance

Because the Nissan Altima has an engine that is more powerful than many of its counterparts, its snow and winter performance is better than most drivers expect once they get behind the wheel.

Most experts agree the Altima excels on snow and ice-covered roads. On most models of the Altima, especially newer ones, the car’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive System helps to increase the car’s traction and stability. 

When combined with its five-inch ground clearance that allows it to maneuver easily through moderate to somewhat deep levels of snow, you can be almost certain you will arrive at your destination without Old Man Winter hampering your Altima’s performance.

While the higher trim models that have the Intelligent All-Wheel Drive System tend to offer the best performance when driving in the snow, don’t discount the lower-trim models of the Altima that are equipped with Front-Wheel Drive.

When compared to similar sedans with Rear-Wheel Drive, the Altima excels at maintaining adequate levels of traction and stability.

Is the Nissan Altima AWD?

Yes, the Nissan Altima is AWD. Many newer models now possess the Intelligent All-Wheel Drive System, which is extremely effective when you are driving on snow-covered roads that may have your vehicle losing traction.

When you are driving in normal weather conditions, your Altima’s AWD will only need to send power to the car’s front wheels. But on snow or ice-covered roads, the AWD system will detect a loss of traction, prompting the engine to send power to the Altima’s rear wheels as well.

Since your Altima is equipped with numerous sensors designed to detect wheel speed, once just one wheel on the vehicle begins to lose traction, the AWD system will make an instantaneous decision as to whether extra power is needed for the wheels.

In some ways, this is very similar to driving a vehicle that is in four-wheel drive. Although your Altima is certainly not a vehicle with four-wheel drive capability, it does handle itself in a similar manner to an SUV or truck. 

When AWD automatically kicks in, maximum traction results from the engine powering all four of the Altima’s wheels.

How Much Snow Can the Altima Handle?

If you are driving down a road that has a light to moderate amount of snow on it, say no more than six inches, chances are your Nissan Altima will be able to get through the snow with little difficulty.

Of course, if the road has been plowed but still has a small layer of snow or ice on it, this will make your drive that much easier!

While its five-inch ground clearance can at times give the Altima problems if the snow on a road goes above six inches, most Altima owners report their vehicles do surprisingly well even in deep snow situations. 

Thanks largely to its 3.5L V-6 engine and the Intelligent All-Wheel Drive System, the Nissan Altima can garner enough strength to push aside the occasional snowdrift or another snowy obstacle that gets in its way.

Along with its AWD system, the Altima can handle more snow than you might imagine thanks to its advanced Traction Control System. A safeguard system that reduces throttle when snow or ice is on the road, the TCS makes sure the Altima’s wheels do not spin at high rates of speed. 

As a result, you are far less likely to find your Altima spinning out of control and getting involved in a traffic accident.

Ways to Improve Altima Snow Performance

Even though it is clear your Nissan Altima is already equipped with many features that allow it to perform very well when driven in the snow, there is always room for improvement. Thus, there are some things you can do to improve your Altima the next time you drive it down a snow-covered road.

The most common ways include installing snow tires on your Altima, equipping it with snow chains or snow socks, or using studded tires. Yet before you opt for any of these improvements, there are some things you’ll need to keep in mind.

Should you decide to use snow tires or studded tires, make sure you clearly know the correct tire size, weight ratings, and speed that your Altima will require. Otherwise, you could have even less traction on the road than you already do, be involved in an accident, or do severe damage to your Altima even if you don’t have an accident.

If you buy snow chains or snow socks, know your tire size. Once installed, you should not drive your Altima more than 30 miles per hour to avoid damage.

Finally, make sure your locality actually allows the use of snow socks and snow chains. If it does not and you get pulled over by police or are involved in an accident, you could be facing stiff penalties.

Will My Nissan Altima Start on a Snowy Morning?

Along with wondering if your Altima will keep you safe while driving down a snowy road, you may also be wondering if it will give you any problems with starting up on a cold morning. 

If you have a newer Nissan Altima model, it came standard with Electronic Fuel Injection, meaning starting up your Altima on a cold morning should be no problem at all.

Of course, you’ll need to do your part during those cold winters by maintaining your Altima’s battery, getting it serviced regularly with oil and filter changes, and other tasks that will ensure it performs as expected.

Will an Older Nissan Altima Do Well in Snow?

Yes, an older model Nissan Altima will do well in the snow. Although Anti-Lock Brakes were not introduced to the Altima until 1995, and even then only as an option, older Altima models have given their owners little trouble in winter driving conditions.

Earlier Altima models also did not have traction control systems, but Altima models from the early 2000s onwards do have ABS as standard.

Are Snow Tires Necessary on a Nissan Altima?

Whether you have an older or newer Nissan Altima, snow tires will not be absolutely necessary in order to drive on snow and ice-covered roads. That being said, they certainly won’t hurt your ability to drive in the snow.

Once you verify your locality does allow snow tires on vehicles, putting snow tires on your Altima will give you several key advantages over other drivers.

To begin with, snow tires have a unique tire tread pattern that makes them more resistant to hydroplaning.

Also, once the temperature outside goes below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, snow tires are made so that they grip the road even better, decreasing your odds of having a wreck.

Equipped with many systems designed to make it a car that is very safe to drive during the winter, the Nissan Altima shows why it continues to be one of Nissan’s most popular models.

Whether your Altima is newer or older, using its built-in systems to your advantage and combining them with snow tires and other gear when needed will keep you safe on snowy roads.

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!