As sure as day turns to night, so soon will winter be upon us. In Canada it means a re-adjustment of our driving habits, greater caution on the roads and, of course, dealing with what is a Canadian birthright, driving in snowy conditions. With those conditions come thoughts of the proper winter tires to accommodate the season, stay safe, and keep car insurance rates low.
Is getting winter tires mandatory?
It may interest you to know that since 2008 Quebec is the only province in Canada where snow tires are mandatory. In Quebec, from December 1st until March 15th, all passenger vehicles and taxis must be equipped with winter tires. Those that are not equipped with winter tires can pay fines ranging from $200 to $300, plus costs. In New Brunswick, mandatory winter tire regulations only apply to school buses and in British Columbia chains are required on tires on certain mountain roads and highways. The rest of the provinces do not require the change over to winter tires but they, along with the tire industry, provide recommendations to drivers.
The recommendations state that once the temperature dips below 7 degrees Celcius it is advisable to change tires. At that temperature (or below), the rubber used for summer tires does not grip the road as well in colder temperatures.
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Can I get a discount on car insurance with winter tires?
In Ontario, the former Liberal government passed a law stating that all insurance companies must offer some form of a discount on auto insurance when using winter tires. The discounts began in 2016. Ontario car insurance discounts vary and generally come in the range of between 3 and 5 percent. The province only mandated that a discount is offered however it did not set what the discount on car insurance rates should be; therefore, it pays to shop around for a variety of car insurance quotes.
Also, different insurance companies require different rules. For example, one company may require that the tires be placed on your car between December 1 and March 1 in order to receive a car insurance discount while another company may require the tires to be on from November 1 to April 1.
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Is there a good time to buy winter tires?
So if you are planning to get winter tires with the hope of reducing your auto insurance when is the best time to buy them? Ideally, the best time is when you are purchasing your car. Dealers will have competitive pricing or incentives. If you already have a car and want to go get some winter tires, early fall is also an excellent time to make the purchase. People aren’t yet thinking about the switchover and tire companies generally have their new stock in around that time. Deals can be had before the winter rush takes place just a few months after that. If you’re thinking about it in December, you may have missed the boat. Stores are busy, and prices are high. A post-winter purchase might work as well, but stocks may be low after the seasonal run-on in the previous months.
Once you’ve made the purchase with the hopes of some form of auto insurance discount, when should you install them? As with the purchase, don’t wait until the temperature dips below 7 degrees or you’ve hit the calendar date required by your insurance company. Late fall is a great time to think about installation, although keep in mind that warm roads may wear out your winter tires faster than usual. Also, make sure to change all four tires at the same time to ensure traction and control is consistent.
As with any purchase shop around, ask your auto insurance company about car insurance quotes or discounts and above all, drive safe.