Find Out When to Put on Winter Tires to Ensure Road Safety

When to Put on Winter Tires in Canada

Generally speaking, winter tires should be on your vehicle from Thanksgiving until Easter. However, more specifically, you should switch to winter tires when the temperature is persistently at or below 7℃.

Why 7℃

As the temperature drops below 7℃, the rubber in all-season tires begins to harden, making them less effective at gripping the road. 

On the other hand, winter tires are made for this type of weather. And thanks to their softer rubber and unique tread pattern, they will reduce snow buildup and improve traction, even on slush and ice.

However, make sure to replace all four tires and avoid putting winter tires on the front wheels only, as this could cause your vehicle to spin out when turning.

It’s also best for longevity’s sake to avoid putting winter tires on too early and to remove them when the temperature is consistently over 7℃. This will prevent the tires’ tread from wearing out too quickly.

So, as you can see, 7℃ is the best indicator of knowing the ideal time to change your tires.

What to Consider When Putting on Winter Tires

Before deciding which type of winter tires to install on your vehicle, you should consider how much winter driving you’ll do, your local road conditions, and the questions below:

  • Do you live in an area where the weather is typically cold? 
  • Do you have any experience driving on slippery or snowy roads?
  • Is it necessary for you to travel every day, regardless of the weather?
  • Do you tend to drive on a lot of side streets and back roads during the winter?
  • Do you drive early in the morning or late at night in the winter?
  • Do you maintain a constant speed regardless of the weather?

If you are thinking about putting winter tires on the back wheels only, don’t! Doing this can be dangerous.

It used to be accepted practice for rear-wheel-drive vehicles, but it’s no longer advised. Even under these circumstances, four matching tires are recommended for optimum winter driving performance

According to many mechanics, drivers often neglect an important step after putting on winter tires — to re-torque the lug nuts. While most professionals strongly suggest this process after driving 100 kilometres, only about 30% to 40% of customers actually return to do so. 

Another thing that Canadian drivers often wonder about is if they should be putting winter tires on a lease. The answer is a definitive yes! Even though they are not a part of the lease agreement, it’s still worth buying a set of quality winter tires to handle the brutal Canadian weather.

Provinces Where Putting on Winter Tires Is Mandatory

Winter tires are advised and encouraged for all Canadian drivers, although they are only required (by law) in two provinces. The first section below explains the winter tire deadline for Quebec, and the second one refers to British Columbia.

Quebec Law for Winter Tires

The Highway Safety Code’s mandatory date for winter tires in Quebec is December 1st. You’re responsible for keeping them on until March 15th. In fact, being caught without winter tires on your vehicle during this time frame can result in a $300 fine

Even though the deadline for winter tires in Quebec is December 1st, winter sometimes arrives sooner in La Belle Province. So it’s best to install your snow tires sooner rather than later.

In regards to when to put winter tires on in Quebec, keep in mind that the requirement for winter tires does not apply under the following circumstances:

  • The first seven days after a car is purchased from a dealer
  • Vehicles with dealer license plates (X plates)
  • Motor homes
  • The final seven days of a 12-month or longer lease
  • Vehicles that have received a winter tire exemption certificate
  • Vehicles having a transit temporary registration certificate for up to seven days after the certificate was granted
  • A car’s spare tire
  • Motorbikes used as emergency vehicles

Winter Tire Law in B.C.

This mountainous region mandates winter tires on specific roadways from October 1st until April 30th. Highways 5, 37, 20, 3, and 26 are examples of where this winter tires B.C. law applies.

However, regulations for roads that don’t pass through mountains or areas with heavy snowfall expire on March 31st. This date is pushed back in more treacherous regions. Therefore, the question “When are winter tires required in B.C.?” actually has a few answers.

For example, some parts of Highway 1 require winter tires until March 31st, while other stretches prone to more severe weather necessitate the April 30th limit.

So, exactly when do winter tires have to be on in particular B.C. towns? Although it can be a bit tricky, when you’re driving on specific roads, there are signs to indicate that you’re on a winter tire-required roadway. 

Vehicles without the necessary equipment are strictly forbidden, and violating the law can result in a $109 fine.

Provinces Where Installing Winter Tires Is Recommended

Winter tires are recommended and encouraged in all regions. Below, we’ve listed a few particular suggestions.

When to Put on Winter Tires in Manitoba

You can get a low-interest loan from the government to buy qualified winter tires and associated expenditures in Manitoba, a snow-heavy province with generally flat roadways. Temperatures typically reach the telltale 7℃ indicator in late October.

Furthermore, from October 1st to April 30th, studded tires are permitted in Manitoba. Tire chains are also allowed when needed and are not subject to regulations.

Ontario Winter Tires Law

Although snow tires are not required by law, the province encourages vehicles to use them. What’s more, there are no specific Ontario winter tires dates.

Additionally, the province provides a financial incentive to encourage you to use winter tires. Instead of a loan, as in Manitoba, this is accomplished through cheaper insurance costs. Your premium may drop by as much as 5%

Because Ontario is such a large province, the average time when temperatures reach 7℃ varies. However, it usually occurs between late October and early November.

Notably, studded tires are only permitted between October 1st and April 31st if your vehicle’s ownership address is Northern Ontario. However, you could incur a $110 fine if you use studded tires in Southern Ontario.

When to Put Winter Tires on in Other Provinces and Territories 

There is no particular winter tire law for Saskatchewan, only recommendations. But what about Alberta? 

There isn’t an Alberta winter tire law either. Still, like most provinces, the government urges winter tire use during severe weather months. The same goes for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.

Interestingly, despite the lack of regulation, 94% of drivers in Atlantic Canada choose winter tires.

Cost of Putting on Winter Tires

Now that we’ve discussed when you should put on winter tires let’s look at the cost of doing so. Below, we’ll discuss the price of quality winter tires and what a professional will charge to change them for you. 

When purchasing your tires, there are a few things to consider. For instance, the make and model of your vehicle, how often you’ll be driving, and the types of roads you’ll be travelling. 

Taking all that into account, you can expect to spend at least $450 to $800 for a complete set of new winter tires (without rims). If you want to purchase them with metal rims, that could up the price to around $700 to $1,000

When it’s time to switch to winter tires, if you choose to employ a tire service company, you can expect to pay as follows: 

  • $80 – $150 for all four tires mounted on rims, balanced, and installed 
  • $40 – $70 for all four tires that are already mounted on rims

We realize that this is a substantial amount of money. However, we feel it’s a small price to pay for the safety and peace of mind that comes with it. Plus, there is one true and tried way that you can save some cash when switching tires. 

So please keep reading because we’re about to share it with you in the section below.

Save Money by Changing to Winter Tires by Yourself

It’s pretty straightforward to change passenger vehicle tires on your own if you have the correct tools. The job isn’t very difficult or dangerous. Plus, nowadays, there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to teach you how.

Perhaps the most challenging task of putting on your own winter tires is staying warm while getting it done. But the rewards are well worth it, as you’ll save money by doing it yourself. All you’ll need are the tools listed below:

  • Jack stands
  • Jack
  • Wheel chocks or blocks
  • Torque wrench or lug wrench

Does Putting Winter Tires on a Car Make a Difference?

Yes, they most certainly make a difference, especially in brutal Canadian winter weather. What’s more, in late autumn, when the temperature stays at or below 7℃, your summer or all-season tires will become rigid and less effective

Therefore, not only is this when you should put winter tires on, but it’s also when they begin to work their best due to their softer rubber and superior tread design.

A quality set of winter tires can provide you with much better traction, stability, and stopping power on icy and snowy Canadian roads than their summer or all-season counterparts.

So, if you spend a lot of time driving, you should invest in a set of high-quality winter tires, such as Nokian Tyres or General Tires. Both companies produce great winter tires on different ends of the price spectrum.

Conclusion

Although there are many opinions about when to put on winter tires, the optimal time is just as the temperature persistently stays at or below 7℃. Following this logic, you should then swap your winter tires out in the spring when the air is steadily warmer than 7℃.

This method is the most reliable way to get the most mileage out of your tires by protecting their unique rubber compounds from the warm, dry pavement.

FAQ

When to put on winter tires in Montreal?

According to the winter tire law in Montreal, all motorized vehicles registered in Quebec (excluding farm machinery, heavy vehicles, and tool vehicles) must be equipped with winter tires from December 1st until March 15th.

When to put on winter tires in Nova Scotia?

The answer is the same as most other Canadian provinces. The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada strongly advises that drivers convert to winter tires when the temperature consistently reaches 7℃.

Are winter tires mandatory in B.C.?

Yes, from October 1st until April 30th, most routes in B.C. require winter tires. However, the mandate for specific roadways not located across mountain passes or significant snowfall areas expires on March 31st.

When to put on winter tires in Toronto?

A reasonable rule for when to put on winter tires is best gauged by the temperature. According to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, you should install your winter tires immediately after the temperature steadily reaches 7℃.

After teaching for 8 years, Damjana found a new challenge — writing. With her academic background in the English language, doing research and writing is always fun and enjoyable. In her spare time, she loves binge-watching TV shows, especially crime documentaries, or spending time with her dogs.

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