David Fortier

By David Fortier

September 22, 2021


Winter tires in 6 questions

Article revised on 29 September 2021

In Quebec, when the cold season returns, vehicles are required by law to be equipped with winter tires. It’s been proven that winter tires help reduce the risk of accidents and auto insurance claims, even in the harshest of winter conditions! But what are the criteria for choosing the best winter tires which also meet the requirements set out in the Highway Safety Code? Here’s what you need to know.


1. Which vehicles must be equipped with winter tires?

Winter tires are mandatory for all registered passenger vehicles or taxis in Quebec. However, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) lists a few exceptions. Winter tire requirements do not apply:

  • For the first seven days following the purchase of a passenger vehicle from a dealer
  • For the last seven days before the end of a lease of one year or more
  • To passenger vehicles with dealer plates (X plates)
  • To motor homes
  • To the spare tire of a passenger vehicle or taxi


2. What is the deadline for installing or removing winter tires?

In 2019, winter tires will be mandatory between December 1 and March 15, inclusively. Failing to do so will result in a fine of between $200 and $300.

Quick tip: Don’t wait too long before having your winter tires installed so that you will never be caught off guard by winter conditions that often occur before the month of December.


3. I spend my winters in Florida. Do I need to have winter tires installed before I leave or after I return?

No, provided that you obtain a winter tire exemption certificate from the SAAQ. With this certificate, you can drive a vehicle without winter tires for a maximum of seven days. You can obtain the certificate at a SAAQ service point or online.


4. Which types of winter tires are legal?

Only two types of winter tires are approved:

  1. Winter tires that bear the mountain/snowflake symbol

pictogramme pneu hiver

  1. Studded tires, which are authorized from October 15 to May 1 on vehicles that weigh less than 3,000 kg.

5. How do I know if my winter tires are worn?

Measure the tread depth in various locations. It must be at least 4.8 mm (3/16 inch) to be in good condition. If this depth is not reached, you should replace your tires.


6. Why are winter tires so important?

For your safety and that of others on the road. As soon as the temperature dips below 7 °C, the rubber on four-season tires begins to get harder. As a result, the tires lose traction, which increases the risk of your losing control of the vehicle.

Winter tires are designed to grip the road surface up to ‑40 °C and, if they are in good condition, quickly repel snow, reduce braking distance and allow for safe acceleration.

In short, winter tires help reduce accidents and save lives. Don’t forget that it’s also very important to adapt your driving to the weather conditions and the state of the roads. Safe driving, combined with adequate tires, can save lives…yours, your passengers’, but also that of others on the road!


Additional resources:

Winter driving tips
How to safely clear the snow off your car
SAAQ – Winter Preparation


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