Modes of Transportation – In an Automobile

Winter Preparation

From December 1 to March 15, your vehicle must be equipped with four winter tires that meet established standards and are in good condition. Depending on the Québec region in which you live, it might be preferable to have your winter tires installed before December 1 and keep them on your vehicle after March 15. While you’re having your tires changed, why not give your vehicle a proper tune-up before the cold season hits?

Winter Tune-up

To drive safely during the winter months, the Ministère des Transports recommends that you do a proper tune-up before the cold hits.

Important things to check include:

  • Windshield wipers and the heating and defrosting system
  • Washer fluid
  • Brake and power steering fluids
  • Antifreeze
  • Motor oil and transmission oil
  • Tires, including the spare tire
  • Electrical and ignition systems
  • Headlights, turn-signal lights, hazard lights and the horn
  • Drive belts, brakes, the battery and the alternator

Visit the Regular Maintenance webpage for tips and advice.

Winter Tires: Mandatory from December 1 to March 15 inclusive

From December 1 to March 15 inclusive, all motorized road vehicles registered in Québec (other than heavy vehicles, tool vehicles and farm machinery) must be equipped with winter tires.

This requirement also applies to rental passenger vehicles in Québec, as well as mopeds, motorized scooters and motorcycles.

If your vehicle is not equipped with winter tires between December 1 and March 15 inclusive

The fine varies from $200 to $300, plus costs.

Warning

Winter tires: be ready before December 1

Even though winter tires are not mandatory before December 1, winter can arrive early. Don't let it catch you unprepared!

Winter tires requirement: a few exceptions

The winter tires requirement does not apply:

  • for the first 7 days following the purchase of a vehicle from a dealer
  • for the last 7 days before the end of a lease of 12 months or more
  • to vehicles with dealer plates (X plates)
  • to vehicles with a temporary registration certificate (transit), for a period of up to 7 days after the certificate was issued
  • to motor homesA motor vehicle permanently converted into living quarters.
  • to the spare tire of a vehicle
  • to motorcycles used as emergency vehiclesA road vehicle used as a police car in accordance with the Police Act (chapter P-13.1), a road vehicle used as an ambulance in accordance with the Act respecting pre-hospital emergency services (chapter S-6.2), a fire safety vehicle, or any other road vehicle which meets the criteria established by regulation for recognition as an emergency vehicle by the SAAQ.
  • to vehicles for which a winter tire exemption certificate has been issued

Why are winter tires mandatory?

To provide better traction and grip

As soon as the temperature drops below 7°C, or when there is ice or snow on the road, the rubber compound of summer and all-season tires hardens and loses its grip. Moreover, the treads on summer and all-season tires are not designed to hold snow like those on winter tires. The snow held in the treads of winter tires helps improve their traction and grip.

Since we can generally expect such weather conditions before December 1, it is highly recommended that you equip your vehicle with winter tires before this mandatory deadline.

The rubber compound of winter tires is designed to grip the road

The rubber compound of winter tires is specially designed to meet certain flexibility criteria in temperatures as low as -40 °C, which means better grip on the road surface.

Useful information

Official pictogram for winter tires

Official pictogram for winter tires showing a mountain with a snow flake in the middleSince December 15, 2014, only tires on which this pictogram is found and studded tires are considered winter tires under the Highway Safety Code.


Check the tread depth of used winter tires

For better traction, the tread depth of your tires should be at least 4.8 mm (6/32 in) across the entire width of the tire when they are installed. 

Such a tread depth generally allows you to use your tires safely if you need to drive on a snowy roadway. However, if you use your tires over long distances during the winter months, pay particular attention to their condition—vehicle traction can decrease quickly once treads get worn down to that point.

Check the date the tires were made!

Be sure to check the date the tires were made, especially when you are buying them.

The tread on older tires is harder and less effective on snow and ice.

How to find the date a tire was made

On the tire wall, find the DOT identification number that ends with a 4-digit number. For example, 3613 means that the tire was made in the 36th week of 2013.

Studded tires and chains: authorized between October 15 and May 1 inclusive

Studded tires are authorized for:

  • passenger vehicles
  • taxis
  • commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of no more than 3,000 kg

Chains are authorized on the tires of:

  • emergency vehicles
  • farm tractors
  • road vehicles used for snow removal and winter maintenance

For more information

Visit the Winter Tires: Safe Winter Driving and Winter Driving webpages for other tips and advice. You can also visit the website of the Ministère des Transports to find out more, in particular:

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