Subcompacts such as the Chevrolet Spark are attractive to buyers because they are light, often practical, and remarkably fuel-efficient.
However, a concern for prospective buyers is the driving capabilities of these vehicles in wintertime.
In this article, we assess the Spark’s ability to drive in winter conditions.
Here is the short answer to whether the Chevrolet Spark is good for snow and winter driving:
Despite being a lightweight car, the Chevrolet Spark is easy to maneuver in winter thanks to a plethora of safety features. The vehicle comes with Traction Control, Stability Control, ABS, and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution to improve traction and stability in snow, ice, and slush.
Is a Chevrolet Spark Good in the Snow?
Many people will say you need a jacked-up 4×4 SUV or truck to drive in snow. However, this is not entirely true.
A compact car such as your Chevrolet Spark can serve you well in snow. In fact, Chevrolet Sparks have some advantages over larger-sized vehicles in snow.
First, a Spark is lighter than the average truck or crossover. As a result, it is easier to move around and is less likely to get stuck in snow.
Second, the Spark is a low-riding vehicle and is closer to the ground than a big vehicle. In snow, this is helpful because it decreases the prospects of a rollover (a common occurrence on snowed-out roads).
Nevertheless, remember that the Spark is a subcompact vehicle that weighs under 3,000 lbs and has low ground clearance. This means you should avoid using your Spark when roads are covered in deep snow.
As you know, lower ground clearance allows snow to stall a vehicle. Remember that before you try to drive your Spark in thick snow.
Also, make sure to go for a Chevy Spark model with a good history. We have a list here of the best years for Chevy Spark.
What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?
The Chevrolet Spark cannot get you through extremely heavy snowfall or a brutal snowstorm. However, it can definitely handle driving in other moderate winter conditions, especially wet ice and mild snow.
Here are some Spark features that make it easier for you to drive in wintertime:
Antilock Braking System
The Antilock Braking System was among the earliest safety features made compulsory for all vehicles.
As all models in Chevrolet’s lineup do, the Spark has an Antilock Braking System pre-installed. This is an impressive addition to the Spark’s winter driving arsenal. We’ll explain why.
The ABS has one job, which is decreasing the prospects of your wheels locking up in event of excessive braking. The Spark’s ABS has on-board computers that monitor how your wheels roll when you brake.
The moment you brake excessively and some wheels show signs of locking up; ABS will save the situation by modulating brake performance.
‘Modulating brake performance’ means ABS controls how brakes apply pressure on the wheels. Therefore, if you were to brake excessively, the ABS will ensure that the excess brake pressure doesn’t force a wheel to lockup.
Why is this important for winter traveling? Research shows that wheel lockup occurs more frequently in winter, specifically on wet surfaces.
Thus, by suppressing wheel lockup, ABS removes one of the major safety risks associated with traveling in winter.
Electronic Brake Force Distribution
The Electronic Brake Force Distribution system is another safety feature, albeit an improvement on the Antilock Braking System.
Despite the similarity in function, EBD and ABS are different in their approach to solving the problem of wheel lockup.
EBD will always monitor your wheels during operation. Thus, it can determine the level of brake pressure required to decelerate a wheel. When you brake, EBD varies brake pressure amongst wheels.
Thanks to the EBD, no wheel has to deal with “excess” brake pressure because “excess” is relative to individual wheels. As it eliminates the application of excess pressure, EBD stops wheel lockup before it even happens.
Vehicle Stability Assist
The Spark has Chevrolet’s advanced Vehicle Stability Assist system. This system aids your vehicle in retaining optimal balance and stability in slippery situations.
Judging by how slippery winter roads are, we’d say Vehicle Stability Assist is a necessary feature for winter driving.
The Vehicle Stability Assist keeps your vehicle balanced–and on its original course by tracking different aspects of its motion. These include:
- Yaw rate
- Steering wheel angle
- Speed of wheels
Combined, the aforementioned variables provide a clear picture of the car’s stability. For example, your steering wheel may point one way only for your car to go the other way. This signifies that you have lost control of your vehicle, and it may lose stability.
When your car is about to lose its balance and stability, the VSA will activate the brakes on both sides of the vehicle to slow down wheels and stop loss of stability.
In the worst-case scenario, the VSA could totally minimize engine torque to reduce vehicle speed. This can go a long way in increasing the vehicle’s stability.
The Traction Control feature is part of your Spark’s Vehicle Stability Assist system. It improves driving in slippery road conditions, especially on snow and ice.
Traction Control does this by reducing wheelspin, which could decrease traction, and by extension, stability in winter conditions.
Because of its sensors, Traction Control can easily pick up excessive wheelspin situations.
If the Traction Control system senses excessive spinning in any of the wheels, it will apply the brakes to that wheel to stop its spinning. It may also suppress power available to the wheels so they don’t keep spinning rapidly.
By cutting down on excessive wheelspin, your vehicle’s Traction Control system enhances traction and stability, particularly in snow.
The Chevrolet Spark has features designed to protect you from the biting cold in winter. Among these are heated front seats, which increase warmth available to drivers in cold climates.
Furthermore, a Climate Control system keeps things warm and cozy in the cabin so your passengers can stay comfortable.
Make sure to also read our article about driving the Chevrolet Colorado in snow and winter.
Does a Spark Have Snow Mode?
The Spark doesn’t have the Snow Mode feature that’s present on some newer models. The Snow Mode system suppresses wheelspin while you drive in snow for better traction and control.
Although the Spark lacks a Snow Mode system, it makes up for it via the Traction Control system, which reduces wheelspin in snow.
Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Spark?
Snow gear can help increase your car’s traction and handing in snow. Some snow gear you can install on your Spark include snow tires, snow chains, snow socks, ice studs, and so on.
You should consider local laws when buying snow gear-some municipalities have laws banning specific snow gear from use on local roads.
How Much Snow Can a Spark Handle?
The Spark is a car you would call a “lowrider”, given that it has such low ground clearance. The ground clearance is around 6.7 inches, which is good for driving in moderate snowfall.
Higher amounts of snow may reduce your Spark’s mobility or even force it to a complete stop.
If you want to use your Spark in snowy conditions, ensure the snow isn’t deep. If you ever drive your Spark in thick snow, you would likely get stuck and have to tow your vehicle.
Make sure to also read our article about driving the Chevrolet Sonic in snow and winter.
How Does Chevrolet Spark Handle Low Winter Temperatures?
The Spark uses electrical fuel injection, so you rarely have to worry about its performance when it gets cold.
Unlike carbureted cars, fuel-injected vehicles run flawlessly in frigid temperatures and don’t require multiple starts or long warm-ups.
However, you may face problems with starting your Spark in winter if it has a bad battery or dirty spark plugs. Similarly, a faulty electrical system will affect how your Spark runs in low winter temperatures.
Can a Chevrolet Spark Drive on Ice?
Since it’s a small car, the Chevrolet Spark can drive on icy roads with ease. It is safer than many larger, heavier vehicles on such surfaces because it likely won’t go out of control and crash.
Still, it is advisable to maintain reasonable speeds when driving in icy conditions. Small car or not, the Spark can slide off on ice, if you make the mistake of over-speeding.
Does the Spark Have 4WD?
The Spark does not have 4WD; it is a front-wheel drive model that sends power to the front wheels. While not as good as 4WD, the Spark’s FWD layout is helpful in winter conditions. For what it’s worth, FWD is better than rear-wheel drive (RWD) in winter.
What About Older Spark Models and Winter Driving?
The old Spark models can drive confidently in winter. This is because they have most of the features that improve winter driving on newer models.
For instance, the first Spark manufactured for the US market came with Traction Control, Stability Control, Anti-lock Brakes, and Electronic Brake force Distribution.
Also check out our article on driving the Chevrolet Impala in snow and winter.
Do Sparks Need Snow Tires?
The consensus among Spark owners is that snow tires are a necessity for traveling in wintertime. Do not think your OEM all-season tires will save you in winter-they will not.
If you want more grip, better cornering ability and increased safety and control in winter, investing in a set of snow tires is the best thing to do. It might cost you, but you will reap the benefits in winter.
Can You Mount A Snow Plow in A Spark?
You cannot mount a snowplow on your Spark. Doing that could damage your vehicle and force your dealership to void your warranty.