Winter Tire Regs in BC

Winter Tires Requirements

passenger-signsDid you know that travel on BC Highways and most routes between October 1 to March 31 requires that your vehicle is equipped with winter tires or chains?  And in some areas like mountain passes or high snowfall areas, that date is extended to April 30.  But for those of you who live in the Lower Mainland or Southeast Vancouver Island, you are exempt from requiring winter tires but you are responsible for equipping your vehicle with the equipment necessary to travel safely in the current conditions.

Winter Tires vs All Season Tires vs All Weather Tires

winter-tire-symbolsIn BC, the definition of a Winter Tire is quite clear:  the tires must have either the “snowflake” symbol, or the “M+S” symbol or both.

The “3 peaked mountain with a snowflake” tires are better on snow and ice and are ‘true’ winter tires.  These tires have been tested in all winter conditions and temperatures and are considered far superior to the M+S tires.

The M+S (mud + snow) tires are considered, “All Season” and although better than Summer Tires, have only been tested on packed snow and mud.  They are not necessarily good on ice, slush, or on cold dry roads.


When do you need chains on your vehicle?

car-chainsTire chains for vehicles can be made from different materials: chains, cables, plastics, straps, and can vary in price as low as $30 to several hundred.  Some of them are easy to install and some are very difficult considering the conditions you find yourself in when you need them.  After you are stuck in the snow is probably not the best time to try to install them.  Chains should only be used on snow or ice and not on bare pavement for any length of time as they will wear out faster and potentially chew up the road.


Studded Tires

Studded tires can only be used on BC Highways from October 1 to April 30 and the studs should not protrude more than 2 mm from the tread.  If you are using studs they should be on all four tires but if you only have 2 tires then they should be on the rear.


Tires Stores and Service

In BC there are many great suppliers and service locations for getting your winter tires including, but not limited to, Kal Tire, Canadian Tire, Fountain Tire, OK Tire, and even Walmart and BCAA.  Watch for tire sales in November before the big snow storms hit.  In the Lower Mainland and Vancouver don’t be one of ‘those people’ with useless summer tires holding up the rest of us!


For more information go to the BC Government website on Winter Driving Safety:


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