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Are Winter Tires Mandatory in Ontario?

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

We are talking about winter already?! Whether you truly believe it’s the most wonderful time of the year, or you live for summer sunshine, soon enough winter will be on our doorstep…literally. For us in Canada, snow is almost guaranteed to make an appearance, and it usually stays for a while. The approach of winter brings us to a question that our brokers receive regularly from clients: are winter tires mandatory in Ontario? This blog will settle this question and help you gain a better understanding about the benefits winter tires.   

What Are Winter Tires?

Tires with a symbol of a peaked mountain and snowflake are especially designed for colder temperatures and provide better grip and vehicle handling in snowy road conditions. All-season tires (also known as mud and snow tires) are marked with M+S and are best for spring, summer, and fall temperatures in Canada.

Benefits of Winter Tires

What’s so great about winter tires? When temperatures get colder, the compounds used for all-season tires do not handle it well. All-season tires lose their elasticity and stiffen in colder temperatures; this reduces traction and hinders a vehicle’s cornering, handling, and stopping abilities. This poses a major safety threat to you and your passengers when there’s any sort of snow, ice, freezing rain, or slush accumulated on the roads. Winter tires include several technologies specifically designed to provide better traction in wet, icy, or snowy conditions.

  • Made with a compound containing silica, which remains flexible in cold temperatures of up to –30°C.
  • Winter tires also have more sipes, which are little grooves molded into the ribs of the tread that give it more grip.  
  • They have a higher void ratio, which means there’s more open space in the tread to help the tire channel water and snow away from the tire’s impression.
  • The braking distance of a winter tire compared to an all-season tire can be as much as 25% shorter – that’s two car lengths!

Winter tires are designed to make motorists safer on the roads and can prevent you from a devastating accident. They may help you be more confident when handling adverse weather conditions but having winter tires doesn’t mean you can just throw caution to the wind. Be careful to follow these safe driving tips and continue to take proper care of your vehicle in the winter.

Are Winter Tires Mandatory in Ontario?

To simply answer the question, “are winter tires mandatory in Ontario?” the answer is no, winter tires are not legally required in Ontario. However, they are recommended, and you can receive a discount on your car insurance for installing them.

In Alberta, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, it is currently not mandatory for vehicles to be equipped with winter tires during the winter months. 

Are All-Season Tires Good Enough for the Winter?

Maybe you’re convinced that all-seasons will do the trick. We recognize it can greatly depend on your location and situation. If you live in an area with a moderate winter climate that is rarely affected by snow, winter tires might not be a necessary. It may not be a valuable investment if you drive infrequently in the winter, or you vacation in the south. In most cases though, we strongly recommend winter tires for the safety of you, your passengers, and others on the road! Even if you don’t see a lot of snow, freezing temperatures can cause slippery road conditions, and winter tires are designed to handle the cooler temperatures better.

When Should You Install Winter Tires in Ontario?

Winter tires should be installed when the temperature is consistently below 7°C and should always be installed as sets of 4 to avoid vehicle issues. The exact date requirements will vary depending on your province of residence and insurance company. To qualify for a winter tire discount with BIG’s insurance partners, you’ll need to install them based on their recommendations. Some companies require winter tires anywhere from October/November until March/April. Be sure to verify with your broker about the timeframe and ensure you have them installed.

Winter Tire Discount

The best news is that safety can save you money! When you install winter tires on your vehicle, you could qualify for a winter tire discount of up to 5% on your car insurance. Your broker will ask you for proof of purchase or installation to confirm that you qualify. Learn more about car insurance discounts available at BIG for good driving habits: What is Telematics?


Now that we’ve answered the question, “are winter tires mandatory in Ontario?” and we’ve explained the benefits of winter tires, you can see the value in purchasing them, even if they aren’t mandatory. If you’ve purchased winter tires and are ready to get a discount on your car insurance, let your broker know. At Billyard insurance Group we are proud to have some of the most competitive rates in the country. If you’re ready to save money (who isn’t?!) then get started on a free online quote right now!

By: Amy Legault