Do you Need Winter Tires in British Columbia?

The first thing you need to know in British Columbia, or anywhere else for that matter when it comes to whether you need winter tires or not, is the temperature and weather conditions you’re likely to face. Coastal areas tend to be pretty temperate, so if snow does fall it rarely hangs around too long. However, further inland, average winter temperatures are often below freezing. The rough rule of thumb is that if you live where the temperature regularly gets lower than 45F or 7.2C in the winter, you need to think about fitting winter rubber to your vehicle. As of 2015 though, it's no longer left up to the driver as to whether they think they need winter tires in British Columbia in certain places. So, here's a look at winter tires, what they are, what they can do for your winter driving, and what the law is in BC.

What's so special about winter tires?


Winter tires are made of a different type of rubber to regular all-weather tires which reacts quite differently to cold weather conditions. The rubber used for regular tires hardens in very cold conditions, and hardened rubber doesn't grip the surface as well as soft rubber. Winter tire rubber has been developed to stay remarkably soft even in extremely cold temperatures, and the tread is also specially designed to cope with winter driving conditions. Today's high quality winter tires are now so effective they can even squeal at times under hard braking on snow and ice, which is hard to imagine until you've experienced it.

Winter tires and the law in British Columbia


Since October 1st 2015, drivers in British Columbia have been required by law to obey winter tire and chain signs throughout the province. If you’re driving in an area where the road signs tell you winter tires are required, the authorities will only consider acceptable tires to be those displaying the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol or the M+S (mud and snow) symbol. And even then, they will also have to have at least 3.5 mm tread of tread them. You may find some tire manufacturers will mark their tires with both designations, which is obviously also acceptable.

It's also the law that you must have at least two matching winter tires on your vehicle's primary drive axle, although it's obviously recommend you should be using four matching tires on the four outside corners of the vehicle, even if it's a four-wheel drive model. Mixing tires that have different tread patterns, and/or varying internal construction and size, compromises stability and should be avoided with all tires, and not just those designed for the winter.

Owning and storing winter tires

Winter tires are not made to be used all year round, so only keep them on your vehicle until the driving conditions have improved and temperatures are consistently above 45F/7.2C. Once things have warmed to that kind of level, replace them with all-weather or summer tires. You'll then need to store your winter set until the weather worsens again, and it's important to keep them in a cool, dry and preferably shaded or dark locations, such as in a basement or garage. Before swapping any tires on your vehicle, be sure to inspect them for damage and make sure the tread is of an adequate depth.

For more information about winter tires and what they can do for you and your vehicle, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Westview Ford Sales Ltd.

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