Nissan Maxima in Snow and Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Nissan Maxima is a four-door, high-tech sports car, with the latest models featuring a more aggressive look.

Low, sculpted, and streamlined on the outside, the Maxima is one of the most powerful sedans on the market, thanks to its V6 engine.

But how well can it handle driving in the snow?

In this article we’ll investigate the Maxima’s winter ability…

Here is the short answer to whether the Nissan Maxima is good for snow and winter driving:

The Nissan Maxima is good for driving in light to moderate snow, however due to its 5.3″ ground clearance, it is not recommended for more extreme conditions. The Maxima has Traction Control, ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Intelligent Warning Systems all of which can aid winter driving.

Is a Nissan Maxima Good in the Snow?

The Nissan Maxima is a heavy, front wheel drive sedan that can handle winter conditions just fine.

The weight of the vehicle’s engine positioned over the drive wheels allows the car to get a good amount of traction as the wheels are forced down through the snow and into the road.

The Maxima has a comparatively low center of gravity than say, a truck or SUV. For slippery road conditions, this is beneficial as it reduces the chance of the vehicle rolling over as the car ‘hugs’ the road.

SUVs have the highest rollover rate for passenger vehicles in injury crashes – 12%, as compared to 7% for pickup-trucks, 4% for vans and 3% for passenger cars.

However, the low center of gravity will work against the Maxima when dealing with heavier, thicker snow.

With a ground clearance of 5.3 inches, the Maxima is not designed for extreme winter conditions and in these scenarios, a truck or SUV would be much more suited.

For light to moderate snow conditions the Maxima, combined with a good set of snow tires will be a great choice.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

Drivers are 20% more likely to be in a car accident during the winter months and added safety features can certainly help reduce these risks.

Below we’ll dive into some of the Maxima features that aid wintertime driving.

Traction Control System 

One of the most important safety systems in the Nissan Maxima is its electro-hydraulic traction control system.

The TCS is in charge of preventing slippage of the drive wheels on slippery and wet roads.

Its main role is to stabilize and increase grip in all roads to prevent hydroplaning.

The TCS system works by using wheel speed sensors to detect when one or more of the car’s wheels have lost grip.

When the system registers this loss, a computer will limit power to the wheels that still have traction to prevent a skid. 

We suggest disabling the traction control system only when absolutely necessary.

Integrated Brake System

Winter roads have a much bigger potential for slipping and sliding, and the importance of good brake in such conditions can’t be understated. 

The Nissan Maxima has implemented a world class Integrated Brake system, consisting of four key components

1. Automatic Emergency Braking

Newer Nissan Maxima’s come with an automatic emergency braking system that continuously tracks your speed and distance from objects ahead.

The automatic braking system alerts you if you need to slow down, and can automatically engage the brakes.

This system helps to prevent collisions or lessen the impact of those not prevented.

This braking system is important during winters by being your second pair of eyes for downed trees and debris in the road.

As well as initiating the brakes when high speeds are reached on slippery winter roads.

2. Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) 

The Maxima’s anti-lock brake system improves your stopping ability while keeping control of your vehicle in sudden braking scenarios.

The ABS is crucial during the winter months to prevent skidding.

The Maxima’s ABS prevents skidding by continuously pumping and then releasing the brakes before they lock. 

Related: Best & Worst Years For The Nissan Maxima? (With Facts & Stats) 

3. Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)

The EBD system uses the vehicle’s electronic stability control and anti-lock brake system to calculate the needed brake force distribution to all four wheels in a moment of braking. 

The EBD can certainly come in handy during the winter, especially when driving down winding roads.

The EBS system can adjust the distribution of the brake force to your tires on turns to make sure your car doesn’t lean too much to one side creating an opportunity for skidding or rolling.

4. Brake Assist

The brake assist senses hard pedal application and helps provide maximum braking capacity. This system helps reduce your Maxima’s stopping distance. 

High Beam Assist

The Nissan Maxima’s high beam assist light up the road, whilst being considerate to passing drivers.

The high beams automatically switch to low-beam headlights when a vehicle is detected ahead and turns the high beams back on when the coast is clear. 

Lane Departure Warning

Lane departure warning, as the name implies helps make sure you change lanes only when you mean to.

Using haptic feedback on the steering wheel (simulating touch to communicate with the driver) the Maxima will let you know if you’re drifting over.

Intelligent Lane Intervention

Its important to point out these systems can’t be relied upon completely are are supplementary safety features, however, when lane markings are clear, the Intelligent Lane Intervention can aid you should you be straying out of our lane.

By tapping the brakes, the Maxima can help gently guide you back into your lane.

In the winter this can happen all to often due to reduced visibility and over tired drivers.

Intelligent Forward Collision Warning

There’s no substitute for cautious, vigilant driving, especially in the winter however the Maxima’s Intelligent Forward Collision Warning can provide some additional support.

By monitoring two cars ahead, when sudden braking or deceleration is detected, the Maxima issues you a warning to slow down.

When driving in the winter its important to always leave plenty of room to the car in front as braking distances can become significantly reduced.

Does a Nissan Maxima Have Snow Mode?

A vehicle’s snow mode adjusts the engine throttle and transmission to move your car with less torque and power, helping control wheel spin and reduce slipping. 

The Nissan Maxima does not come with a snow mode feature.

However, it does still contain features like the brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, and traction control system that help on slick winter roads.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Maxima?

The answer is yes, here is a list of some useful snear gear Maxima drivers can utilize to help combat the snowy conditions.

Snow tires: have deeper tread depths that reduce snow buildup and provide better traction on snow covered roads. 

Snow chains: increase the amount of grip that tires have on icy roads preventing skidding. 

Snow socks: are a woven fabric that wrap around the tires of a vehicle and increase traction on snow and ice. 

Remember before purchasing and installing snow gear, that each item is vehicle specific and you need to have the correct size for your vehicle.

Also, be wary of installing chains, studs or socks without knowing if your region allows them on the road. Many regions have strict laws regarding snow gear. 

You may also be interested in our article: Nissan Rogue in snow and & winter driving

How Much Snow Can a Maxima Handle?

When it comes to snow, the Nissan Maxima can handle some snow, but not as much as your standard truck or SUV.

The ground clearance of the Maxima is 5.3 inches, which is right on par with other sedans. 

What this means is the Nissan Maxima can drive through light to medium snow conditions up to approximately 4 inches.

How Do Maximas Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Nissan Maxima uses fuel injection so it rarely encounters issues when starting in low winter temperatures. 

If your Nissan Maxima is encountering issues in lower temperatures there could be a couple of potential issues to check:

1. Battery: a fully-charged battery can handle below-freezing temperatures without failing. Yet, an old battery can decrease its charge level and lead to the battery freezing. 

2. Engine Oil: cold weather makes your oil thicker and harder to move. Consider getting an oil change for oil with a lower viscosity at the start of the winter season, this helps protect the engine.

3. Gas Tank: try to keep your gas tank at least halfway full during the winter months to prevent your gasoline from freezing. 

You may also be interested in our article: Nissan Maxima Beeping? (11 Common Causes)

Can a Nissan Maxima Drive on Ice?

We never encourage drivers not to go out in extreme icy conditions because of the lack of traction on icy roads.

However the Maxima can certainly handle ice when equipped with a good set of ice tires.

When driving in icy conditions remember to always leave extra room for stopping.

Does the Nissan Maxima Have 4WD?

4WD sends torque to all four of a vehicle’s wheels to increase traction and handle more rugged terrain.

The Nissan Maxima does not come with four-wheel-drive, it is only available as a front-wheel-drive (FWD) vehicle. 

What About Older Maxima Models and Winter Driving?

Nissan Maxima’s, like most cars, have added safety technology that is not available in older models.

For example the Automatic Emergency Braking was not a standard feature in the Nissan Maxima until 2018. 

Also, when driving older models of cars it is important to check any vehicle recalls.

In 2016-2018 Nissan did a Voluntary Safety Recall Campaign on certain Maximas to replace the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

The ABS is important in winter conditions and before purchasing an older Nissan Maxima you should inquire about its ABS status. 

You may also be interested in our post: how long do Nissan Maxima’s last?

Do Maximas Need Snow Tires?

Snow tires can be a nice upgrade to your Nissan Maxima for those living in medium to heavy snowfall areas.

Snow tires have a deeper tread depth than standard tires, and offer better traction on wet or snowy roads. 

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Maxima?

We do not recommend mounting a snowplow to your Nissan Maxima, as this vehicle has a low ground clearance.

Snowplows are more effective when on vehicles containing a higher ground clearance and are built to withstand heavy snow conditions. 



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...