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Getting to know snow tire laws in your province [UPDATE]

Posted Nov 30th 2011 5:45PM

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[UPDATE] We've written an updated version of this article to include all the provinces in Canada and to reflect the changes in the snow and winter tire laws in Canada. Some of the changes may directly affect you.

Since Transport Quebec introduced a law making winter tires mandatory in December, 2008 there has been an ongoing discussion across the country about whether governments should mandate tires to match the temperatures under 7 degrees Celcius. As they sit, the laws can be somewhat confusing, so allow us to help you figure out what sort of traction you need to satisfy the rules.

Click here to learn about the winter tire laws in your province, as we work our way across the country.

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2010 Acura ZDX snow.
Alberta
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • No restrictions on use of studded tires or tire chains.

British Columbia
  • Laws in B.C. differ, area by area. You are only required by law to have winter-certfied tires in certain mountainous regions. In these specific areas, drivers must winter tires or carry tire chains. For specific areas, check here.
  • Studded tires are permitted between October 1st and April 30th. Studs must be no higher than 3.5mm. The number of studs per tire varies by gross vehicle weight. For most of us with vehicles under 4,600 kilograms, regulations limit the number of studs to 130-per-tire.

New Brunswick
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle... unless you drive a school bus, to which in that case, you are required to have winter-certified tires installed.
  • Studded tires are permitted between October 15th and April 30th.

Newfoundland & Labrador
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • Studded tires permitted between November 1st and April 30th. For more information, visit the official site here.

Nova Scotia
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • Studded tires permitted between October 15th and May 31st. Studs must be no higher than 1/8 of an inch or 3.18 mm. The number of studs per tire varies by gross vehicle weight. For most of us with vehicles under 10,000 lbs or 4,536 kilograms, regulations limit the number of studs to 130-per-tire.

Manitoba
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • Studded tires permitted between October 1st and April 30th. For official stud requirements, visit the official site here.
  • Beginning in the fall of 2014, Manitoba Public Insurance now offers a low-interest Winter Tire Financing Program for policy holders. This plan covers the purchase of new winter tires, rims, balancing, etc... for up to a maximum of $2,000 per vehicle, financed anywhere from one to a maximum of four years. See the official site here for more information.

Northwest Territories
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • No restrictions on use of studded tires or tire chains.
Nunavut
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • No restrictions on use of studded tires or tire chains.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON  - JANUARY 18: A SUV drives past a sign near a tire shop on a snow-covered road January 18, 2012 in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. Seattle and Western Washington State have been hit with a snow storm that has dropped several inches of snow.  (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Ontario
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • Vehicles registered in Northern Ontario (Territorial Districts of Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury, Timiskaming and Thunder Bay) are permitted studs for use in any province from October 1 to April 30. Vehicles registered in Southern Ontario are permitted to use studded tires or chains when visiting Northern Ontario. If caught using them in Southern Ontario, a $1,000 fine will apply. For official stud restrictions and more information information, visit the official site here.
Prince Edward Island
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • Studded tires permitted between October 1st and May 31st.

Québec
  • The only province where winter or studded tires are mandatory. They must be used from December 15 to March 15. In previous years, light trucks and SUVs wearing LT, or HT tires were excluded from this law. In Québec, AT or AT-S tires are considered winter tires. In 2014, all vehicles must have winter-certified tires.
  • Studded tires permitted between October 15th and May 1st. See official site here.

Saskatchewan
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • No restrictions on use of studded tires or tire chains.
Yukon
  • You are not required by law to have winter-certified tires installed on your vehicle.
  • No restrictions on use of studded tires or tire chains.
These are all the requirements for Canada only. For driving in the U.S., similar to Canada, the laws vary from state to state. Many states that prohibit, or seasonally limit the use of studs do not allow exceptions for non-residents (i.e., us Canucks) who are passing through or visiting. If you are caught in a state that prohibits the use of studded winter tires, you may face fines, penalties or other legal problems. Be sure to check the current laws in each state before travelling with winter or studded tires on your vehicle.

If you're confused as to the difference between all-season tires and winter tires, we're outlined the benefits of winter tires here.

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Cad j

It's LT & HT tires (not AT)

February 06 2014 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aadrian Jim

i live in Northern Manitoba, where all it his is hills. I have always had a 4x4 for winter and never had a problem going or stopping. I have never owned studded tires until this year because my brother gave me them because they caused too much vibration from uneven wear. My truck is just for around town so I got them balanced and had no issues! Anyways, I see no difference in stopping in this truck with studded tires then with my F150 that has AT2's from General tire. I can stop on a icey hill quick in both trucks, actually the truck with no studs will stop quicker. It is heavier though. If I owned a little light car or small suv I would definitely use winter tires. I had a sunfire for 2 years and managed perfectly fine but it would help. I think if they introduce mandatory winter tires, it should only be for cars and light vehilces. Bigger trucks should be allowed to use All Season all season long, because a good all season will work great in winter

February 01 2014 at 1:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stephen Congdon

Time for Southern Ontario to allow studded tires again. Allowing them in Northern Ontario only??. Southern Ontario has ice covered roads more than deep snow and studs work well in these conditions. Allow them during the winter months only. I heard they were banned because people kept them on all year and they damaged the roads in warm months. The salt we use does more damage to our bridges and rotting out our cars. I will be fined $1,000.00 here for trying to drive safe and protect myself and others from injury, give me a break. Down here it is more about filling the pocket with cash in the car towing and repair industry than about safety. Studs damage roads? I would rather my money go to some road repair than see another road death that might have not have happened. Why can every other place in Canada find away to use studs and not us.

S Congdon

February 03 2013 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gumption

Agreed. Snow tires are yet another false sense of security. The real problem is that drivers do not know how to handle a vehicle in slippery weather conditions.

I know many people with snow tires who have had more trouble than those without. Somewhat ironic...

Don't get me wrong though, they definitely help. I am just pointing out that good snow tires with a bad driver won't make a difference in the world.

December 01 2011 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bigfriggindeal

Anyone driving in Canada in the winter time without snow tires is a wee bit short on the intelligence scale.

November 30 2011 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bigfriggindeal's comment
Jusand

No one really used snow tires until 6 or 7 years ago, I don't see how all seasons can be all that dangerous. People seemed to get around just fine before snow tires were common.

December 01 2011 at 9:02 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jusand's comment
Shawn Currie

Mn, time for you to wake up. I have been using studded tires for the past 15 years, and I have to say I love them. To see people with All Season on their cars or trucks and spinning out or in the ditch and I with studded tires on and cruise right by them. LOVE them and never had a problem with them at all.

October 02 2012 at 7:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
PeterScott

I remember my little brother running in front of a car at a bus stop more than 30 years ago. I also remember the studded tires digging in, and saving him from injury.

I remember the studded tires on my moms old beater going tick-tick-tick on dry pave 25 years ago, and I have been using winter (not studded, in Southern Ont) for over 15 years...

Not only do I use winters, but they have been common through my life. I wish they could be studded in Southern Ont.

March 15 2013 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
common sense?

So...the point was that snow tires aren't required anywhere but outside of cars in Quebec?

November 30 2011 at 6:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
common sense?

So...the point is...now snow tires are required except on cars in Quebec?

November 30 2011 at 6:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply