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Winter tire FAQs

Published on November 19, 2019


Since 2014, Quebec residents have gotten into the habit and complied with the legal requirement of having winter tires installed on their vehicle. That’s a good thing, because the effectiveness of winter tires has been proven beyond doubt. Even in the most challenging winter conditions, these tires reduce the risks of accidents and auto insurance claims. But how well do you know the requirements of the Highway Safety Code and the related best practices? L’Unique General Insurance has prepared a handy summary.

  1. ​Which vehicles must be equipped with winter tires?

    As a rule, all passenger vehicles or taxis registered in Quebec. However, the SAAQ allows a few exceptions:
    • For the first seven days following the purchase or rental of a passenger vehicle from a dealer
    • For the last seven days before the end of a lease of one year or more
    • For passenger vehicles with dealer plates (X plates)
    • For motorhomes
    • For the spare tire of a passenger vehicle or taxi.
  2. As of which date is it a requirement to have winter tires on your vehicle and when does that requirement end?

    In 2019, it became mandatory for vehicles to be equipped with winter tires from December 1 to March 15 inclusive. If you fail to meet this requirement, you are subject to a fine of $200 to $300, plus costs.

    Ideally, you shouldn’t wait too long to have your winter tires installed. That way, you will avoid any nasty surprises that Old Man Winter may have in store, often before the first day in December! 
  3. I drive to Florida for the winter. Do I need to have winter tires installed before I leave or after I return?

    Not if the SAAQ has issued a winter tire exemption certificate. This certificate allows you to drive a vehicle without winter tires for seven days or less. You can request one at an SAAQ service outlet or online
  4. Which types of winter tires are legal?

    Only two types of tires are permitted for winter driving:

    • Those marked with the mountain/snowflake symbol
    • Studded tires, which are permitted from October 15 to May 1 on vehicles weighing less than 3,000 kg.

  5. How do I check the wear of my winter tires?

    You have to measure the tread depth in various locations. Tread thickness of 4.8 mm (3/16 inch) or more means that your tires are in good condition. If the grooves are shallower, you should replace your tires.

  6. Why is it so important to have winter tires?

    To ensure your safety and that of others. When the temperature drops below 7°C, the rubber compound in summer or all-season tires begins to harden, which causes them to lose their grip on the road. The driver is therefore at greater risk of losing control.

    Winter tires are designed to provide superior grip on the road, even when the temperature drops to as low as -40°C. And, if they are in good condition, winter tires offer a number of other benefits such as quick channelling of snow, reduced braking distance and safe acceleration. 

    Winter tires undeniably reduce the risks of accident. Just remember to adapt your driving to weather and road conditions. Lives can be saved when drivers exercise caution behind the wheel and use adequate tires. It’s a win-win for everyone: drivers, passengers and other road users.

Your insurance broker is there to help you prevent losses. Feel free to contact him or her!

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