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Time for B.C. motorists to start swapping summer tires for winter tires

Click to play video: 'Winter tires are required on B.C. highways starting Oct. 1'
Winter tires are required on B.C. highways starting Oct. 1
It may be hard to believe considering the weather we've been having on the South Coast but the deadline for having winter tires on B.C. highways is almost here. – Sep 30, 2022

With the arrival of October, winter tires are now required in B.C. when travelling on most highways throughout the province, including all mountain passes.

Barring the Lower Mainland and southeastern Vancouver Island, winter tires or chains are required on most B.C. routes from Oct. 1 to April 30, though for some highways the requirement ends on March 31.

Routes where winter tires are required are marked with signs, with the province saying the rule will be enforced by police or other enforcement officials. It added that motorists who aren’t in compliance may be turned away and fined.

Read more: Winter driving conditions take extra attention, SGI warns

A legal winter tire is defined has having at least 3.5 mm of tread depth plus the letters M and S or a three-peak mountain/snowflake symbol.

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The province recommends that drivers install mountain-snowflake tires for cold-weather driving, and, for extreme conditions, to carry chains. All-weather tires also bear the mountain snowflake, but don’t perform as well as winter tires.

It also notes that chains on summer tires are not an acceptable substitute for winter tires on signed B.C. highways.

Click to play video: 'Importance of winter tires'
Importance of winter tires

With the province basking in warm temperatures, it may seem odd to be discussing winter tires, but it won’t be long before snow, and winter, arrive.

“When there are warmer temperatures, that isn’t a determining factor for how cool it can be on mountain passes,” said Kyle Lewarne, a zone manager with Kal Tire.

“Most people, in preparation for Oct. 1 are starting to line up or book appointments at stores to start putting winter tires on now, with the understanding that mountain passes change very swiftly at this time of the year.”

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Click to play video: 'Winter driving safety tips'
Winter driving safety tips

Wait times for tire swaps are generally short early in October, but expand as November nears and temperatures drop.

Lewarne says it’s also important to remember that the softer rubber compound used in winter tires begins gripping better than all-season tires when temperatures start falling below 7 degrees C.

“And that’s seven degrees during commuting time,” he said. “Oftentimes, during the day when the vehicle isn’t moving, that’s not when you require traction.

“That’s something people should be aware of, because commuting times can be a lot cooler than the afternoon sun, when the vehicle may not be moving.”

Click to play video: 'Traffic Tips: Summer’s effect on winter tires'
Traffic Tips: Summer’s effect on winter tires

Motorists are also advised to check the condition of their winter tires, including tread death.

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“The physical condition of the tire will determine its health. As a tire gets old, it loses moisture, it can get a little bit more firm,” said Lewarne, adding tire shops can easily determine a tire’s safety.

Tread depth can be checked with a tread-depth gauge or a coin.

More information about winter tires in B.C., and the routes where they’re required, is available on the government’s website.

Click to play video: 'OK Tire tips to making sure your vehicle is winter-weather ready'
OK Tire tips to making sure your vehicle is winter-weather ready

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