Driving in winter
Requirements for winter tires
Your vehicle must be winter-ready from December 1 to March 15. However, because spring conditions can be variable, it is recommended that you wait until a few weeks after the end of this period to install your all-season or summer tires.
The requirement applies to all motor vehicles registered in Québec, including rental vehicles. However, this requirement does not apply to trailers. Drivers who do not comply are liable to a fine of $200 to $300.
The winter tire requirement does not apply for:
- Heavy vehicles
- Utility vehicles
- Farm machinery
- Spare tires
- Motorcycles used as emergency vehicles
- A period of seven days from the date the vehicle was acquired from a vehicle dealer (you must be in possession of the bill of sale for the vehicle or a copy thereof)
- The seven days prior to expiry of the vehicle’s lease agreement when the term is one year or more (you must be in possession of the lease agreement or a copy thereof)
- Vehicles with a removable license plate (X-plate)
- Vehicles with a temporary certificate of registration (transit) for the period of validity set out in the certificate, but not more than seven days after the certificate issue date
- Motor homes, specifically motor vehicles permanently used as homes
- Vehicles for which SAAQ has issued a winter tire exemption certificate
Winter tire compliance
To be compliant, a tire designed for winter driving must be marked with the pictogram illustrated below or be studded. Tires that are reshaped or remodeled for passenger vehicles must also have the pictogram or be studded.
Studded tires are permitted from October 15 to May 1 on commercial vehicles whose total mass does not exceed 3,000 kg, passenger vehicles, and taxis.
Checking tire condition
Winter tires are designed to prevent snow from accumulating in their grooves. Deeper grooves mean:
- Better traction in the snow
- Faster snow and slush clearance
- Reduced braking distances
- Safe acceleration
The grooves on your tires should not be less than 1.6 mm deep. During the winter, the recommended depth is at least 4.8 mm. To measure the depth, place a quarter in a groove with the caribou’s nose pointing down. If you can see the caribou’s snout, this means the tire will not grip well in deep snow. Check several grooves in different locations for tire wear.
Winter tires in good condition make it possible to:
- Reduce braking distance by 25%
- Maintain tire elasticity to -40°C
However, winter tires and their condition are no guarantee against accidents. Adjust your driving to weather and road conditions:
- Slow down
- Stay further away from other vehicles
Last update: December 5, 2022