Blog Ultimate Guide To Winter Tires In Canada

Nov 8, 2023

Best winter tires for the 2024 season

Winter tire tread on a snow packed road

If you live in Canada, you know how important it is to drive safely in snowy and wet conditions. The data shows that more Canadians are swapping their tires for the season – As of 2020, over 70% of motorists now use snow tires. They are a crucial component of safe driving in winter.

Once the temperature falls below +7°C, rubber on all-season tires can stiffen up, creating less traction and braking more difficult. Winter tires improve your ability to stop, prevent sliding, and help you be a safer and more predictable driver because they are made of unique compounds to handle harsh winter conditions.

Looking to buy snow tires? Use this guide to find the best winter tires for your vehicle.

Do winter tires make a difference?

Yes! When you install four winter tires, it can greatly improve your ability to drive in snow, frost, slush, and icy conditions – they create a safer winter driving experience. Advantages of installing snow tires in Canada include :

  • Better traction and control.
  • Improved braking and handling.
  • Increased driver confidence when behind the wheel.
  • Prevention of accidents and related injuries and fatalities.
  • Fewer car insurance claims.
  • Improved road safety.

How many Canadians use winter tires?

As soon as the cold weather begins to creep in and the threat of snow is imminent, it is time to start thinking about installing your snow tires. The use of winter tires in Canada is on the rise. A 2021 survey by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) found that the numbers are up from 2017, when only 66% of Canadians had them installed.

Here is a regional breakdown of snow tire use in Canada for 2021 :

  • Canada wide : 76%
  • Quebec : 100%
  • British Columbia : 57%
  • Ontario : 73%
  • Alberta : 68%
  • Manitoba / Saskatchewan : 50%
  • Maritimes : 92%

The study also found that 79% of winter tire owners believe driving a vehicle equipped with winter tires has saved them from being involved in a potentially hazardous driving situation. 89% of Canadian drivers say they use them because they are protecting their families with the safety advantages.

winter tire usage in Canada by province infographic

How long do winter tires last?

It depends on how much winter driving you do. Most manufacturers say tires will last six years or more. If you drive more frequently, expect them to last about four years. Using winter tires in summer will cause them to wear much quicker.

How many kilometres do winter tires last?

Depending on how often you drive and what the winter road conditions are like, snow tires are expected to last an average of 20,000 to 30,000 kilometres.

Why don’t Canadians use snow tires?

Although many Canadians are embracing the benefits of them and lowering their car insurance quote, about 40% of drivers do not use snow tires. The survey identified several reasons why some drivers are resistant to using them :

  • 58% believe all-season tires are good enough.
  • 21% said they do not drive enough to warrant buying them.
  • 27% believe the cost is a barrier.
  • 10% said that they do not have anywhere to store off-season tires.
  • 11% had other reasons for not using snow tires.

When is the best time to install winter tires?

A guideline for putting on snow tires is once temperatures hit 7°C or less, it is time to schedule an appointment to make the swap. Generally, this means that you will install your winter tires near the beginning or middle of November in Ontario. Make sure you check your Ontario car insurance quote for any specific dates or details.

However, driving conditions and temperature will vary by region and from year to year. Check the forecast and book your appointment early or you could get stuck waiting to get them installed.

Tips for buying winter tires

When buying winter tires, it is important to be diligent and purchase high-quality types. Therefore, it is important to shop based on price and the tire's rating and performance to ensure you get the traction you need for the driving you do.

  • Buy four tires and make sure they are the same make and model.
  • Ensure the tires are the correct size – tire size is embossed on the tire's side.
  • The cost varies, but on average, they range from $120-$200 per tire, based on the size and make.
  • Consider purchasing separate rims for your tires, making the transition easier and prolonging their life.
  • Have them installed by a professional, especially if your vehicle has ABS brakes, all-wheel drive and tire pressure sensors.

How to identify winter tires

Drivers are reminded to look for tires marked with the peaked mountain and snowflake logo. Tires that have the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol (3PMSF) have been vigorously tested for use in severe snow and ice conditions. They are approved to have met or exceeded industry snow traction requirements.

Note that M+S means mud and snow for all-season - they may not have been officially tested as winter tires.

What are the best winter tires in Canada?

Are you shopping for the best winter tires in Canada? The top type for you will depend on the road conditions in your area. In general, brand names with a good reputation are the best option. They are proven commodities and will deliver the results you expect and trust on the road.

Best winter tire brands

Here are some of the best known and reputable brands to consider :

  • Hankook
  • Goodyear
  • Michelin
  • Toyo
  • Dunlop
  • Uniroyal
  • Pirelli
  • Nokian
  • Cooper
  • Continental
  • Yokohama
  • Kumho
  • Motomaster

What are winter tire ratings?

Once you have narrowed down your snow tire choices, looking at how they were tested and rated during tests is a good idea. Winter tires should be tested for dry and wet handling, ice and snow, comfort, and mileage. These tests are performed on closed tracks with unbiased experts. The tire rating will help you compare tires based on the weather conditions you will be driving in that will work best for your vehicle.

Best rated winter tires Canada

Before you invest in snow tires, you want to make sure they have been tested by field experts. It’s crucial for them to go under vigorous testing to examine how well they perform in wintery road conditions. Experts will also examine fuel consumption, road noise, and specific manufacturing traits such as the tread. Here are the top best rated snow tires for Canadians :

  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 & R5
  • Michelin X-Ice Snow
  • Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
  • Continental VikingContact 7
  • Pirelli Winter Ice Zero

Best winter tires in Canada for cars in 2024

If you are searching for the top snow tires for your car, here is a look at the best options for the season :

  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10, R5 and Nordman 7
  • Nokian WR G4
  • Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
  • Michelin X-Ice Snow
  • Michelin CrossClimate 2
  • Goodyear WinterCommand
  • Continental IceContact XTRM
  • Pirelli Winter Ice Zero
  • Toyo GSi-6
  • Yokohama IG 53
  • GT Radial Ice Pro 3
  • Hankook Kinergy 4SZ

Best winter tires for trucks 2024

When you pair trucks with their equal weight distribution and their four wheel drive with winter tires, you can have big advantages during winter. Here are the top snow tires to consider for pickup truck drivers in Canada :

  • Michelin Latitude X-Ice
  • Bridgestone Blizzak LT
  • Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice
  • Firestone Winterforce
  • Dunlop Winter Maxx SJ8
  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta 3
  • Cooper Hercules Avalanche Xtreme LT
  • Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snow
  • Toyo Observe GSI-6
  • Nexxen Winguard WT1
  • Hankook Dynapro I*cept

What are the best winter tires for a F150?

There is no easy answer to the best winter tires for your F150. You'll want to compare options depending on where you live, your driving habits and needs. Here are the top options for Canada’s favourite truck :

  • Bridgestone Blizzaks
  • Nokian Hakkepeliitta R5
  • Toyo Open Country WLT1
  • Continental's VikingContact 7

Best winter tires for SUVs 2024

If you’ve invested in one of the best SUVs in Canada, it is highly recommended that you purchase snow tires to get through heavy snowfall, ice, and slushy roads.

  • Nordman 7 SUV
  • Yokohama iceGUARD G075
  • Bridgestone DM-V2
  • Continental VikingContact 7
  • Michelin X-ICE Xi3
  • Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV

How do I get the best winter tire prices?

Much like other products, drivers want to save money when buying winter tires. We all want affordable winter tires. Winter tire prices can vary greatly (starting as low as $120 per tire). If you are looking to invest in winter tires to have a safer drive this winter, here are some tips.

  • Shop around : Comparing winter tire prices is the best way for you to find the cheapest rates in your area.
  • Be on the lookout for deals and sales : Winter tires go on sale just like anything else. Be on the lookout for special sales and deals from local tire shops.
  • Shop off-season : You can often find last year's models on special or clearance sales during the spring and summer.
  • Check the tire rating : While price is important, do not forget to check reviews and ratings.
  • Shop based on value : Shopping based on value is important. You want good value, but you also want a good quality product.
  • Consider used winter tires : Buying used can greatly reduce winter tire costs.
winter tires benefits infograhpic

Best budget winter tires

If you are looking to combine safety, and performance and stick to your budget, these are the top tires for winter.

  • General Altimax Arctic 12
  • Cooper Discoverer True North
  • Nokian Nordman 7
  • Gislaved Nord Frost 200
  • Sailun IceBlazer

Where is the best place to buy winter tires?

When it comes to purchasing winter tires, you have lots of options. In addition to local tire shops in your city, here are some of the larger tire retailers to consider :

  • Canadian Tire
  • Kal Tire
  • OK Tire
  • Fountain Tire
  • Costco
  • Walmart

You can buy steel rims for winter tires in the same locations that sell winter tires, or check online marketplaces.

Save up to 5% on your rate when you install winter tires

Our professional team of brokers can help you find the best winter tire insurance discount.

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Top 3 winter tire safety tips

Tires on a SUV driving on snowy road

If you have not yet put on winter tires this year, it is not too late. Winter storms can have a habit of hitting when you least expect it. When you do put winter tires on your vehicle, remember these four basic tips :

  1. Be consistent : Always install four winter tires to maintain the control and stability of your vehicle. Do not mix brands, sizes, or styles.
  2. Damages : Check for worn treads and damages.
  3. Tire pressure : Check and maintain proper tire pressure, especially in cold weather. If you are wondering how much air pressure goes in winter tires, aim between 30 and 35 PSI. Always check your tire brand for specific recommendations.

Installing winter tires provides Ontario drivers with many benefits – safety, more control, and lower car insurance costs.

Winter Tire FAQs

Winter tire costs vary widely. It depends on many factors such as the size of the tire, make and brand of the tire, date of purchase, and many other factors. You can get winter tires for as little as $50 per tire up to $300 or more per tire. Choose tires that are ideal for winter driving conditions in your area.

Only British Columbia and Quebec have made them mandatory by law during the winter months.

It is recommended to change winter tires to summer tires once the temperature is consistently above 7 degrees Celsius in your area.

Yes. Winter tires typically use more gas because of the increased grip and traction. Under inflated tires also use more gas. Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

Depending on where you live, studded winter tires may not be permitted; you cannot use them in southern Ontario. There are no regulations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon. Check with your province to see if they are allowed.

Yes. Many Canadians change their own winter tires. If you know how to change a flat tire, you can change winter tires. You'll need a jack, lug wrench, and breaker bar.

No, winter tire designs and features can vary. They have different tread patterns, use different materials, and are available in a variety of sizes to suit the type of vehicle you drive.

Yes. There are many online retailers and tire dealers that sell winter tires online.

Get The Best Winter Tires And Drive With Peace Of Mind This Winter

Installing winter tires will give you the peace of mind you deserve when handling winter weather conditions. Plus, you’ll qualify for a car insurance discount. Drive safe!