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when to change winter tires
Oct 26, 2023
3 min

When Do You Need to Change Winter Tires?

Few things are worse than driving on a slick, icy road in the winter. Driving in cold conditions can not only affect your confidence, but it can also hinder your control behind the wheel.

Driving on a slippery road can also lead to an accident or collision if you're not careful. If you're deemed at fault or experience multiple collisions in a short period, then you may even see a spike in your auto insurance premium. In turn, you'll have less money to spend on the things that you enjoy the most.

That's why many Canadians opt for winter tires; installing winter tires is one of the simplest things you can do to protect yourself (and your vehicle) during the winter season. Is this your first winter on the road? If so, you may not know precisely when to change winter tires. We answer this question and more, in the following paragraphs.


What are winter tires?

Before discussing how and when to change to winter tires in Canada, we need to go over the basics.

For those who aren't aware, winter tires are a special type of tire that stays malleable in cold temperatures — this allows drivers to improve their winter driving and retain control on slick surfaces (like an icy or slushy highway). 

Winter tires are made out of a high-quality material that allows them to retain traction, even on the chilliest days. Additionally, winter tires come equipped with small teeth that enable them to pierce through snow and ice. These teeth make it easier for drivers to brake at stop signs and traffic lights safely.

Are winter tires required by law in Canada?

Although the Canadian federal government doesn't require drivers to install winter tires, not all provinces see eye-to-eye on the topic.

Certain provinces, like British Columbia and Quebec, do require drivers to complete a winter tire change before a set date.

British Columbia

In British Columbia, drivers are required to use winter tires while travelling on the majority of major highways and roadways from October 31st to April 30th; however, the period concludes on March 31st in some locations. If you live in British Columbia, feel free to reach out to a municipal or provincial government representative to confirm the timeframe in your area.


In Quebec, drivers need to use winter tires from December 1st to March 15th, regardless of the roadway, town or city.

When should you change your winter tires in Canada?

So, do you want to know when to change winter tires Canada? We've got you covered.

Although it may not be required by law in the majority of the country, we still highly recommend that you take the time to learn when to change winter tires in Ontario and other Canadian provinces. Knowing when to do this can help you protect yourself, your vehicle and fellow motorists.

What temperature is too cold for regular tires?

In general, we find that it's best to swap out your all-season tires when the temperature begins to sit at 7 ℃ consistently. At this point, the rubber in your standard tires will start to seize and stiffen, making them less effective.

How long should you keep your winter tires on your vehicle?

For the best long-term results, we suggest that Canadian drivers switch to winter tires in early October and keep them on until the temperatures rise again in the spring (generally March or April, depending on your location).

Why should you keep them on this long? Well, as you likely know, spring weather can be somewhat unpredictable, especially in Canada. During the spring, it's not uncommon for Canadians to experience streaks of warm weather, followed by a period of freezing temperatures. Because of this, it would be foolhardy to switch back to all-seasons at the first hint of warm weather.

Can you wait until the first snowfall to install winter tires?

Although you technically can wait until the first snowfall, we don't recommend it. If you wait too long to get winter tires installed, then you'll likely have to deal with the following issues:

  • Local mechanics are busy with other customers
  • Shortage of winter tires
  • Potential price increase of tires (supply and demand)

Whatsmore, without your winter tires, you'll be at a greater risk of getting into an accident or collision. With all this in mind, you can see why installing winter tires before the first snowfall is imperative.

Do winter tires influence your insurance rates?

That is a fantastic question!  Currently, only Ontario offers a discount on car insurance with the use of winter tires. Many insurance providers offer these discounts to Ontario drivers, including up to 5% savings.  This can lead to hundreds of dollars saved every year on your car insurance. To learn more about winter tire discounts, or to see if you qualify for any other savings on your insurance policy, reach out to your dedicated Surex advisor.  It’s never a bad time to look for ways to save money!

How do you install winter tires?

Installing winter tires is much easier than you'd expect. The process is identical to swapping a traditional tire. So, if you've ever replaced a flat tire during a road trip, you can install a set of winters with ease.

If you're planning on swapping out the tires by yourself, you'll need the following tools on hand:

  • Dry workplace (garage, carport, shed, etc.)
  • Your new tires
  • Spanner
  • Jack

If you're not familiar with the ins and outs of changing a tire, feel free to click this link for a detailed description.

Furthermore, if you don't feel confident completing the task by yourself, you can contact a licensed mechanic to swap your tires for you. Doing this will ensure that the job gets done correctly, which helps you safeguard yourself during your travels.

What have you learned about winter tires in Canada?

Although they aren't legally required throughout the entire country, we highly urge Canadian drivers to invest in a high-quality set of winter tires. Doing this can not only help you stay safe on the road but can also save you a pretty penny.

Find the best insurance rates today.


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