The Importance of Winter Tires in Canada

The Importance of Winter Tires in Canada

March 21, 2023

Canadian winters are cold, harsh and unrelenting. Those extended winter commutes in snow-covered streets and blustery highway drives to visit family in rural areas can be a white-knuckle driving experience. Driving in Canada during winter can be a scary proposition, especially if your vehicle isn't equipped with winter tires. It's terrifying – slipping around and spinning out. This is where winter/snow tires offer real peace-of-mind.

Every year, Canadian drivers ponder the prospect of replacing worn snow tires or purchasing their first new set. According to recent data from the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, over 70% of Canadian drivers use winter tires. Some drivers choose using all-season tires as a substitute because they are sometimes perceived adequate for the job in most conditions, and may be more cost-effective for some families.

Studies have shown that winter tires can significantly improve a vehicle's traction and handling in snowy and icy conditions, which can help reduce the risk of accidents. For example, a study conducted by Transport Canada found that winter tires can reduce stopping distances by up to 25% compared to all-season tires, which can be the difference between avoiding a collision and being involved in one.

Canadians should use winter tires for several reasons: 

1. Safety

Winter tires are designed with special tread patterns and rubber compounds that can provide better traction and grip in snowy and icy conditions. This can help improve your vehicle's handling, braking, and stability, which can reduce the risk of accidents and keep you and your passengers safe on the road.

2. Legal requirements

In some Canadian provinces, it is mandatory to use winter tires during certain months of the year. For example, in Quebec, winter tires are required by law from December 1st to March 15th. Failing to comply with these regulations can result in fines and penalties.

3. Insurance discounts

Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who use winter tires, as they are seen as a safety feature that can reduce the risk of accidents.

4. Longer lifespan

Using winter tires during the winter months can also help extend the lifespan of your regular tires. Winter tires are designed to withstand colder temperatures and harsher conditions, which can reduce the wear and tear on your regular tires.


Read: Difference between all-season and all-weather tires


When is the best time to change to winter tires?

The best time to change to winter tires is before the temperatures drop below 7°C (45°F) consistently. This is because winter tires are designed with special rubber compounds that remain flexible in cold temperatures, which allows them to grip the road better and provide better traction in snowy and icy conditions.

In many parts of Canada, the temperatures can start to drop below 7°C (45°F) in October or November, so it's recommended to have your winter tires installed before then. It's also important to remember that winter tires should be removed and replaced with all-season or summer tires in the spring once temperatures start to consistently rise above 7°C (45°F) again.

It's a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan to have your winter tires installed a few weeks before the first snowfall or when temperatures consistently drop below 7°C (45°F). This will ensure that you are prepared for winter driving conditions and have the necessary traction and grip to navigate snowy and icy roads safely.


Things to consider before changing to winter tires

It's a good idea to anticipate a busier schedule for mechanics during the winter tire changeover season, and to book your tire change appointment earlier than the first snowfall. Many drivers wait until the last minute to switch to winter tires, which can result in long wait times and difficulty getting an appointment with a mechanic.

To avoid any delays or inconveniences, it's recommended to book your tire change appointment a few weeks in advance of when you plan to install your winter tires. This will give you enough time to secure a convenient appointment time and avoid any rush or delays.

Additionally, you may want to consider having your vehicle serviced and inspected at the same time as your tire change appointment, especially if you're planning on a long road trip during the winter months. This can help ensure that your vehicle is in good condition and ready for winter driving conditions.

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