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Winter Tires in BC

Winter Tires in BC

Depending on where you live in BC and your driving habits, winter tires might not only be recommended but required.


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Unlike Quebec (the only Canadian province with a province-wide winter tire mandate), British Columbia’s mandate is not province-wide, it’s highway-specific. Between October 1 and either March 31 or April 30, the provincial government has made winter tires on passenger vehicles and chains on buses, semis, and other commercial vehicles, a legal requirement when driving on certain highways in Northern BC, along the South Coast, or in the Southern Interior. There are maps of each area on the government of BC’s website, clearly outlining which highways require winter tires and for which dates (some highways not located through mountain passes or in high snowfall areas only require winter tires until March 31, whereas most other mandates end April 30). Due to the mild winter weather of Southeastern Vancouver Island (Victoria, Nanaimo, etc…) and the Lower Mainland (Vancouver), these areas are exempt from the winter tire requirement. However, keep in mind that the highways from Vancouver to Whistler and Vancouver to Kelowna do require winter tires, as does one of the highways from Victoria to Tofino. Ultimately, if you plan to do any travelling outside your BC municipality between fall and spring, winter tires are likely going to be a requirement.

What is the difference between All-Season Tires and Winter Tires?

The main differences between all-season tires and winter tires come down to the unique features of each type of tire. All-season tires have a harder tread compound that makes them more durable, as well as a finer tread pattern to expel water (however, it’s too fine for slush or snow). In comparison, winter tires are made of a soft rubber that allows them to maintain flexibility in colder temperatures, in addition to a blocky tread, biting edges, and lots of sipes to grip the snow and push away slush. All-season tires are engineered to perform in temperatures of 7 degrees Celsius or above on wet or dry surfaces, which makes them ideal for spring, summer, and fall weather in most of BC (as well as winter in milder climates like that of Vancouver or Victoria). Winter tires, on the other hand, perform best in temperatures of 7 degrees or below and were made to offer superior handling, steering, and grip in extreme winter weather, such as heavy snowfall and ice.

When Should I Change to Winter Tires?

The answer to this question partially depends on your driving habits. If you regularly drive on any one of the highways in BC where winter tires are legally mandated, then you’ll need to make sure you’ve swapped out your all-season or summer tires for winter tires by October 1. However, if you live somewhere like Vancouver and only plan on venturing outside the city over the holidays, then you can wait until closer to your trip to change to winter tires. Finally, if you live in a colder part of the province, whether you drive on highways in the winter or not, you may still choose to invest in winter tires. In this case, it’s really up to you to decide when you should change them. However, we recommend doing so as soon as the daily average temperature is consistently below 7 degrees Celsius, as below 7 degrees is when all-season tires stop performing and when winter tires perform best.

Why You Shouldn’t Use All-Season Tires in Winter

In most parts of British Columbia, apart from the Lower Mainland and Southeastern Vancouver Island, all-season tires won’t offer the capabilities you need in the winter. All-season tires are only designed for spring, summer, and fall weather in most places. They can handle mild winter weather, such as rain or light flurries, but they do not provide the necessary grip or traction for ice, slush, or snow-covered surfaces or in sub-zero temperatures. If you live somewhere that receives months on end of harsh winter weather, continuing to use all-season tires will only do more harm than good. The hard compound of the tires will degrade faster in cold weather and will leave you more prone to skidding and hydroplaning. To keep you safe on the road, winter tires should be used anywhere that experiences regular snowfall and freezing temperatures.

Choose Winter Tires at Tire Warehouse

Shop for winter tires at Tire Warehouse. We have a wide range of winter tires to suit all makes and models of vehicles. From Bridgestone and Firestone to Michelin, Toyo, and Radar, we carry the leading tire brands in the world. Plus, we offer fast delivery times, inexpensive shipping, and a mobile installation service to make your tire shopping experience as seamless as possible. For just $5 per tire, we ship to all Canadian provinces, including British Columbia. And if you choose our mobile installation service option, we will send a professional installer to install and balance your new tires on the spot. Let us help you find the perfect winter tires for your BC vehicle. Contact us today to speak with a Tire Warehouse expert.

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