Knowing when to change over to winter tires depends on various factors including temperature and provincial regulations. We’ll help you get a grip on when to swap out your winter tires here in Vancouver BC and Lower Mainland.
British Columbia is a province known for mountainous peaks, it’s no surprise that winter tires (or all-season mud & snow tires) are required on most routes in BC from October 1 to April 30.
These highways include Highway 3 (Crowsnest), Highway 5 (Coquihalla), Highway 20 (Chilcotin-Bella Coola), Highway 26 (Barkerville), and Highway 37 (Stewart–Cassiar) among others.
For select highways that don't pass through mountainous passes and/or high snowfall areas, tire requirements end on March 31, but this date could be extended. The list of highways with a March 31 date includes (but is not limited to) Highway 99 (Sea to Sky), Highway 3A (Castlegar-Nelson-Creston), Highway 12 (Lytton-Lillooet), and all highways on Vancouver Island.
Highway 1 (Trans-Canada) is one such example of a highway that has a March 31 requirement in some parts and an April 30 requirement in others.
Signs are posted on these designated roadways to let you know when you’re on a winter tire-mandatory stretch. Vehicles not equipped are prohibited and failure to obey this law can lead to a $109 fine.
Remember, you are responsible for equipping your vehicle properly for the conditions you are driving in.
These routes are marked with regulatory signs posted on highways throughout the province. We reserve the right to restrict travel at any time of the year depending on road conditions.
These signs are enforced by the police, ministry or other enforcement officials. Motorists who are not compliant may be turned away and fined.
Due to a more temperate winter climate in the Lower Mainland and southeastern Vancouver Island, drivers are not required to use winter tires in many areas along the coast. See the South Coast Map for places where winter tires are needed, like the Malahat.
Remember: If you plan to travel outside the Lower Mainland and southeastern Vancouver Island, winter tires are required on most highways.
When do you take winter tires off?
Driving on winter tires when the thermometer starts to head north can be destructive. Winter tires are designed to perform best on ice and snow, not when the asphalt is hot from the sun. It’s not only unsafe, but it will also cost you money because the winter tires will degrade faster. Therefore, it’s imperative to change back to your normal tires at the right time.
Unless you live in areas of BC (March 31), use the 7 degrees Celsius rule to know when to change back to standard tires in the spring. If the temperature heads above 7 degrees, make your appointment at NTW for a changeover or possibly do it yourself if possible.
What tools do you need to change winter tires?
If you’re the DIY type and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then changing over your winter tires can be a fun project. While it’s technically possible to use the tire changing tools that come with your car, it’s safer to use the proper gear:
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