Seasonal Tire Changes
Tires are changed for seasonality in Canada based on safety risks, provincial regulations, access to winter tire loans, financial incentives in the form of discounted car insurance, season for shopping and cost and provincial tire initiatives.
- In Canada, switching tires to winter tires is recommended in the period of Thanksgiving to Easter, especially because the anticipated temperature is below 7°C.
- It is ideal to have them changed prior to the start of the snow to avoid all-season tires from stiffening and reduced traction, longer braking distances and increased rolling resistance.
- Although there are risks associated with not changing the tires for winter, there are many who believe that their all-season tires are efficient for the change in season. People living in areas such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan are among those with this belief.
- However, winter tires are more efficient for braking and going around corners while traveling in snowy conditions. It takes all-season tires almost twice the distance (12m) it takes winter tires (6.5m) to make a complete stop from 16km/h on polished ice.
- Winter tires are being used to lessen hazardous driving situations and according to TRAC’s 2018 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study, most winter tire owners (80%) have seen the benefits of having them.
- All provinces as well as Transport Canada encourage adherence to seasonal tire changes especially between the months of October and May.
- In 2018, the winter tire usage for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan/ Manitoba, Ontario and Maritimes was more than 50%.
- Some provinces have a law to change all-season tires to winter tires in winter. This is for safety reasons but also has the benefit of lengthening the life for tires used for all seasons.
- In Quebec, it is a regulation to have all-season tires changed to winter tires in the period of December 15 to March 15.
- Studded tires are only allowed in the Northern areas of Ontario, and attract a hefty fine if used elsewhere.
- In British Columbia winter tires are required from October 1 – April 30; highways that don’t meander through mountain passes have this requirement up to March 31.
- Overall, the winter tire usage increased from 66% to 76% between 2017 and 2018.
Winter tire loans
- In areas such as Manitoba, there’s the possibility of getting loans specifically for qualified winter tires.
- Motorists can access up to $2,000 per vehicle for a maximum of 48 months at a low interest rate.
- However, at the very least, customers have to be a Manitoba Public Insurance customer.
- Manitoba Public Insurance winter tire loans are only available for tires purchased after March 6, 2014, and are only accessible after it is determined that the motorist qualifies. This would be confirmed by the participating retailer.
- This helps to off-set the expensive ritual of having to switch tires according to season.
- Other financial institutions also offer loans for winter tires as well as seasonal and summer tires.
Financial incentives for winter tires
- Some states including Ontario, offer incentives for winter tire installation in the form of lower premiums for vehicle insurance. These began in 2016 in Ontario.
- These financial incentives are motivational for motorists and play a significant role in getting them to use winter tires.
- 11% of winter tire users in 2018 said it’s because of lower auto insurance premiums.
- Due to the influence of the financial incentives in Manitoba, Ontario and the Atlantic, winter tire shipments have increased by 35%, 25% and 14%, respectively.
- Companies may vary in requirement for one to qualify for these financial incentives (car insurance discounts). Customers are expected to have tires on their car in the period of December 1 – March 1 for TD Insurance Meloche Monnex and between November 1 and April 1 for Aviva.
Shopping early for winter tires and the cost
- Early shopping for winter tires is recommended to avoid having a meager selection to choose from. This is especially true for persons who may want to purchase a specific brand.
- Autumn is a good time to make purchases since most retailers tend to get their inventory around this time. However, consumers may want to start their shopping “as soon as the temperature is low enough”.
- Winter tires that qualify for use in Canada bear the Alpine logo which is certified and “labeled with the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake”.
- Costco, PMCtire and Kijiji are some places that offer the best deals when purchasing winter tires. However, checking the ranking for tires could also be beneficial when looking for budget tires.
- The cost of all-season tires is cheaper than that of the winter tires and may be the reason why some motorists prefer to use them even in winter. All-season tires reduce operating cost but are not effective for most severe conditions.
- 18% of motorists across Atlantic, Ontario, Saskatchewan/ Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia resist winter tires because they are too expensive.
Provincial tire initiatives
- To help motorists to adhere to rules about the use of winter tires, several provinces have launched tire initiatives. British Columbia ensured that signage on highways served as a reminder about the mandatory use of winter tires on specific routes, especially in winter.
- On January 1, 2016, Ontario’s government stipulated that insurance premiums for drivers who use winter tires must be lower.
- In September 2014, Manitoba Public Insurance started offering low-interest financing that are specific to accessing winter tires.
- Quebec made it a law for all passenger vehicles to use winter tires during the season.
To provide insights into the seasonality of tire changes we leveraged several industry-specific and tire company-related publications including Canada Drives and TireCraft, provincial government publications, international media sources and finance news sources. Information was grouped according to common themes found, with the inclusion of a slightly older sources to gain additional understandings.