When to Change Winter Tires

When to Change Winter Tires

The daylight hours are shorter, the atmosphere is brisk, and when you start your car in the morning, it feels as cold as a refrigerator. Welcome to yet another winter in Canada.

Prior to embarking on your journey in your warmed-up vehicle, it is imperative to prioritize road safety during this lengthy season.

Winter tires consist of four rubber pieces that not only provide peace of mind, but also offer crucial traction and stability on those snowy and icy roads.

These tires surpass the performance of all-weather and all-season tires when the temperature plummets below 7 degrees Celsius.

However, does that signify that you should switch to winter (or snow) tires as soon as the mercury hits 7 degrees?

Factors that influence winter tire replacement

Determining the appropriate time to transition to winter tires depends on various factors, including temperature and regulations set by the province.

We will assist you in understanding when to equip your winter tires and whether there are any provincial guidelines you should be aware of.

Important Note: Prior to replacing your tires, it is always advisable to consult and adhere to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire restrictions and guidelines.

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When is the best time to change summer or all-season tires for winter (snow) tires?

Typically, summer or all-season tires may begin to lose their effectiveness as the temperature drops below 45°F.

Therefore, when temperatures consistently decline below 45°F, it is time to make the switch to winter tires if you intend to use them.

Consequently, many individuals in Canada traditionally adhere to a rule of thumb of utilizing winter or snow tires from Thanksgiving to Tax Day—essentially, from November to April.

However, this timeframe varies depending on your local climate.

Alternatives to replacing your winter tires

Alternatively, instead of changing tires, you might consider opting for the Goodyear Assurance® WeatherReady® premium all-season tire as a year-round solution, depending on your specific needs and driving conditions.

An important aspect to note regarding the 45°F temperature recommendation is to consider the time of day when you usually drive.

For most individuals commuting early in the morning, this period tends to be one of the coldest parts of the day.

Therefore, while the afternoon temperatures might be warmer, it is essential to pay attention to the overnight and early morning temperatures when determining the optimal time to switch to winter tires.

Which provinces require mandatory winter tires?

Although winter tires are recommended and encouraged for all Canadian drivers, only two provinces, Quebec and British Columbia, have laws mandating their use.

Quebec

According to the Highway Safety Code in Quebec, winter tires must be used from December 1 to March 15.

Failure to comply with this requirement can result in a fine ranging from $200 to $300, in addition to other expenses.

It is advisable to install winter tires earlier, as winter conditions often arrive before December 1 in the beautiful province of Quebec.

British Columbia

Given its mountainous terrain, it is not surprising that certain highways in British Columbia necessitate the use of winter tires (or all-season mud and snow tires) from October 1 to April 30.

These highways include Highway 3 (Crowsnest), Highway 5 (Coquihalla), Highway 20 (Chilcotin-Bella Coola), Highway 26 (Barkerville), Highway 37 (Stewart–Cassiar), among others.

For highways that do not pass through mountainous areas or experience heavy snowfall, the requirement for winter tires ends on March 31, although this deadline could be extended.

Some examples of highways with a March 31 deadline include Highway 99 (Sea to Sky), Highway 3A (Castlegar-Nelson-Creston), Highway 12 (Lytton-Lillooet), and all highways on Vancouver Island.

Additionally, Highway 1 (Trans-Canada) has varying deadlines, with some parts requiring winter tires until March 31 and others until April 30.

 Special signage is placed on these designated roadways to indicate the mandatory use of winter tires, and failure to comply with this law can result in a $109 fine.

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Canadian provinces where winter tires are recommended

Apart from Quebec and British Columbia, all other provinces recommend the use of winter tires.

Manitoba

In Manitoba, a province known for its heavy snowfall and mostly flat surfaces, the government offers low-interest loans to assist with the purchase of qualifying winter tires and related expenses.

The Weather Network suggests that the average temperature drops to around 7 degrees Celsius in late October, signaling the appropriate time to install winter tires.

Ontario

Ontario also provides an incentive for drivers to use winter tires in the form of lower insurance premiums.

This reduction can be as high as 5% of the premium.

The specific period for installing winter tires in Ontario varies due to its vast size, but typically falls between late October and mid-November when temperatures reach around 7 degrees Celsius.

All other provinces and territories

Winter tires are not mandatory in Alberta and Saskatchewan; however, both provincial governments recommend their use during severe weather conditions.

The same recommendation applies to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and even the Territories.

It is advisable to switch to winter tires in these areas around early November when temperatures begin to approach 7 degrees Celsius.

It’s interesting to note that a report shows 94% of drivers in Atlantic Canada willingly opt for winter tires, even though there are no regulations requiring them to do so.

Why make the switch to winter tires?

Winter tires offer superior performance in colder temperatures compared to summer tires, which become stiffer and less flexible in low ambient temperatures.

This reduced flexibility results in decreased grip during the winter months.

On the other hand, summer tires are optimized for warmer temperatures.

Their tread patterns have shallower grooves and are stiffer, providing better handling on dry and warm roads.

The rubber used in summer tires is specifically designed to withstand higher temperatures compared to winter tires.

What sets winter tires apart?

Winter tires are manufactured using rubber compounds that retain flexibility in cold temperatures. Additionally, they feature deep treads and sipes to enhance traction on snow and ice.

The deep tread enables the tire’s contact patch to penetrate and grip slippery winter surfaces effectively.

It is crucial to use a complete set of four winter tires. Mixing tires with different levels of grip can significantly disrupt the vehicle’s handling and result in loss of control.

Should winter tires be used on an all-wheel drive SUV?

While all-wheel drive provides better start-up grip compared to two-wheel drive, it does not offer any advantage in terms of stopping grip since all four tires contribute to braking, regardless of the drive system.

Installing winter tires on your all-wheel drive vehicle optimizes stopping grip while improving start-up and cornering grip.

For dedicated winter tires, it is recommended to install them on all four wheels.

Equipping only one end of the vehicle with two high-grip winter tires can create an imbalance in handling.

This advice applies to front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive vehicles.

However, if only two winter tires are installed, they should be placed on the rear axle to minimize handling instability.

To learn more about why it is advisable to install two new tires on the rear axle, please refer to the recommendations for tire replacement positions.

Can winter tires be used year-round?

As the weather warms up, the deep tread on winter tires becomes unnecessary for maintaining grip on snow.

Moreover, the rubber composition of winter tires, designed for flexibility in lower temperatures, leads to increased wear on dry and warm roads.

The combination of deep tread and soft rubber may result in decreased performance during warm weather conditions.

When to transition back to summer or all-season tires

Once the temperature consistently stays above 45°F overnight, it is advisable to switch from winter tires to all-season or summer tires. By doing so, you will optimize the lifespan and performance of your winter tires.

What sets snow tires apart from studded tires?

Snow tires, such as the Goodyear WinterCommand® Ultra, are designed for superior performance in snowy, slushy, icy, and freezing rain conditions.

They feature deep molded grooves and a directional tread pattern, effectively redirecting water away from the tire surface on wet and slushy roads.

In areas where driving on compacted snow and ice-covered roads is common, selecting a winter tire that can be fitted with ice-gripping traction studs, like the Goodyear WinterCommand, might be a wise choice.

Studded tires utilize plastic or metal studs to enhance traction on packed snow or ice.

However, it is important to note that these studs are not suitable for road surfaces devoid of snow or ice, and they may even cause damage.

Before considering stud installation, it is essential to check the regulations in your local area, as some jurisdictions prohibit the use of studs altogether or restrict their usage to specific times of the year.

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Proper storage of seasonal tires during off-season periods

Appropriate storage is crucial for preserving the lifespan of your tires across different seasons.

If you are transitioning from summer or all-season tires to winter or snow tires, it is essential to store the unused tires properly, ensuring their readiness when the sun shines again.

Ideally, store the tires indoors in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight.

To learn more about seasonal tire storage tips and the correct methods for tire storage, additional information is available.

As always, your local Goodyear tire dealer is available to provide assistance and address any inquiries you may have.

The knowledgeable service writers and technicians are familiar with the seasonal driving conditions in your area.

Feel free to contact or visit Goodyear, as they will be delighted to discuss the optimal tire options for you and your vehicle.

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FAQs about when to change winter tires

When should I change my winter tires?

When the temperature persistently falls below 45°F (7°C), it is advised to convert to winter tires. On cold, slippery, or snowy roads, this offers excellent traction and safety.

When is the right time to change to winter tires?

When the weather begins to cool and there is a greater likelihood of experiencing winter conditions, it is time to switch to winter tires. When temps routinely hit or dip below 45°F (7°C), it's a good sign that it's time to make the change.

When should I change to winter tires in Ontario?

When temperatures frequently fall below 45°F (7°C) in Ontario, it is essential to switch to winter tires. This normally happens in the autumn or early winter, depending on the weather trends in your location.

When should I change to winter tires in Toronto?

When temperatures frequently hit or fall below 45°F (7°C), residents of Toronto should convert to winter tires. This usually occurs in the fall, as winter approaches.

When should I change my winter tires in Canada?

The best time to change your winter tires in Canada depends on your location and environment. It is generally suggested to convert to winter tires when temperatures persistently fall below 45°F (7°C). However, it is important to examine local weather patterns and adhere to any laws or guidelines issued by local authorities.

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May 11, 2023
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