Montreal

Quebec winter tires mandatory as of Dec. 15

Winter is on its way, and so is the deadline to put on your winter tires in Quebec. Here's everything you need to know about winterizing your car.

Don't wait for snow to arrive to change your tires — do it now and avoid the rush

Quebecers have until Dec. 15 to put on their winter tires. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

While many Montrealers may be enjoying the unexpectedly warm weather this week, the realities of winter aren't far away for drivers.

Quebec's auto insurance board, the SAAQ, requires all taxi and passenger vehicles, as well as mopeds, motorized scooters and motorcycles to be equipped with winter tires from Dec. 15 to March 15 inclusively.

Fail to do so, and you'll face up to $300 in fines.

Get your tires before the first snow

Though the deadline is Dec. 15, the best time to put on your tires is now, according to Ted MacKay, owner of MacKay Auto in Kirkland. 

He's owned the garage for 10 years, and he says people tend to wait until the first sign of snow to change their tires. The ensuing rush to the garage means more demand and longer waits.

MacKay says his customers usually start calling by Thanksgiving.

Another reason to put on your winter tires is for insurance claims. MacKay warns that if drivers get into an accident without the right tires on their car, their insurance company may give them grief. 

How old is too old?

Regardless of the weather, Mackay says winter tires typically last five years before they begin to degrade.

Not sure which tires are winter tires? Since 2014, this pictogram has been added to all winter tires. (Transports Québec)

He says drivers who don't have a snowflake marking on their winter tires may be in need of a new set. The snowflake logo was introduced in 2014 to make it easier for drivers to know if their vehicle's winter tires are on.

Buying south of the border?

MacKay says buying tires down south could save drivers as much as 20 per cent, depending on the size of the tire.

However, the exchange rate is not as favourable this year, and he says it's hard to say how much people will save, if anything.

Winter checklist

Before taking your winter wheels for their first spin of the winter, MacKay says there are a few more things to check off your list.

Aside from changing your tires, MacKay recommends doing winter maintenance: changing your oil, checking your car's antifreeze and fluids and looking at the condition of the vehicle's battery.

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