When is the best time to put on your winter tires?

What time of year should you change your tires over? The answer isn’t the same every year, as the temperatures fluctuate from one winter to the next. It’s also not the same for everyone since every province in Canada is hit by cold temperatures at different times. We suggest having a look at your provincial guidelines, and more importantly, monitoring the temperature closely to make the best decision for you for when to have your winters put on. When the temperature hits 7 degrees or below consistently, you should have your winters put on. Although only British Columbia and Quebec have mandatory laws regarding winter tires, other provinces do recommend it and some even offer incentives.

Provincial Regulations

Winter tires are required by law on most highways in the province of British Columbia from October 1st through April 30th. This includes  Highway 3 (Crowsnest), Highway 5 (Coquihalla), Highway 20 (Chilcotin-Bella Coola), Highway 26 (Barkerville), and Highway 37 (Stewart–Cassiar). For highways that don’t run through mountainous passes or high snowfall regions, winter tire requirements end on March 31, this includes Highway 99 (Sea to Sky), Highway 3A (Castlegar-Nelson-Creston), Highway 12 (Lytton-Lillooet), and all highways on Vancouver Island.

In the province of Quebec, all vehicles are mandated to have winter tires from December 1 to March 15, whether you’re driving on a highway or not. In Manitoba, you can receive a low-interest loan from the government to purchase qualifying winter tires and to help cover associated costs. Ontario also offers an incentive to get you driving on winter tires. This comes through lower insurance premiums rather than a loan like in Manitoba. This could be as much as a 5% premium reduction.

For the provinces that don’t have any official laws regarding when to put on your winter tires, we suggest watching the temperature because when the pavement starts to cool down cold surfaces provide less traction. Winter tires are specifically made to grip on cold and wet road surfaces. When temperatures begin to hit around 7 degrees Celsius is typically when the average all-season or your typical spring/summer tire begins to lose traction.  Rubber for winter tires works best at 7 degrees or below because tires are made from a softer rubber compound than summers or even all-seasons. Harder rubber compounds get even harder in cold temperatures, so they lose their traction and ability to ‘stick’ to the pavement.

Plan Ahead

Winter weather comes unexpectedly, and you don’t want to be “too late”. Avoid long wait times for an appointment to have your tires changed by planning ahead. Monitor the temperature and when the weather starts to get close to 7 degrees consistently, call your local OK Tire store to make an appointment. Continue to visit us safely in-store, or now shop for tires and book an appointment for installation online!

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