Montreal’s first snowfall prompts winter tire frenzy as deadline approaches

Click to play video: 'Changing your winter tires'
Changing your winter tires
WATCH ABOVE: Do you have your winter tires yet? With Montreal's first snowfall already on the ground, you may want to hurry! As Global's Anne Leclair reports, the deadline is Dec. 15 – Nov 21, 2016

Mechanics at Merson Automotive in Montreal’s NDG borough are working in overdrive mode Monday.

They expect to change a total of 500 tires by the end of the day.

“I love the snow, I’m from South Florida. I haven’t seen snow in nine years,” said Dwayne Richardson, a Merson mechanic.

“I love it, it’s awesome.”

The season’s first snowfall is a day most garages love and hate at the same time.

READ MORE: Up to 10 cm of snow expected to fall in Montreal

Phone calls and drop-ins have been non-stop since the first snowflake touched the ground Monday morning.

Mechanic Dwayne Richardson changes a car’s winter tires as the first snowfall hits the ground, Monday, November 21, 2016. Anne Leclair/Global News

“I look forward to it from a business standpoint, of course,” said Celso Louro, the garage’s manager.

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“I like to be busy, but I do dread it because it’s hectic, it’s busy, it’s chaotic. Everybody’s nerves are a little bit on edge.”

The wait for winter tires can be long for some customers – up to two hours for some.

READ MORE: Snowy owl captures hearts in Montreal’s West Island

Louro admits it’s typical of drivers to wait until the last minute to get their snow tires installed – procrastination, after all, is human nature.

“A lot of people this year were telling us ‘it’s too early, it’s too early, I’d like to postpone it,'” he said.

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Merson Automobile is currently open seven days a week just to keep up with the high demand.

“People think that snow isn’t really going to come or it’s going to come much later in January, February. So, everybody is pushing it further and further out towards the deadline,” said Louro.

Under Quebec’s Highway Safety Code, drivers have until Dec. 15 to install their winter tires.

According to CAA-Quebec, one sign to look out for is when the average daytime temperature hits below seven degrees.

One misconception is that changing tires too early will wear down the tread, but experts said those chances are slim and it’s safer than waiting until the first snowfall.

“Of course they’re playing with fire a bit, if you don’t have to go out, if you don’t have to take your car, stay home or leave your car at home,” said Annie Gauthier with CAA-Quebec.

“Use public transportation and make sure to call and make your appointment soon.”

Drivers who don’t have their winter tires on between Dec. 15 and March 15 will face fines for possibly putting their lives, and those of others, at risk.

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