Modes of Transportation – In an Automobile

Winter Driving

In winter, drivers must adapt their driving to weather and road conditions. Winter tires are mandatory from December 15 to March 15 inclusive.

Adapting your driving to weather and road conditions

Under the Highway Safety Code, drivers must slow down when visibility is reduced as a result of darkness, fog, rain or other precipitation, or when the roadway is slippery or not completely cleared.

Failure to adapt your driving can result in

  • A $60 fine, plus costs
  • 2 demerit points
Useful information

Lessons on how to drive on ice

Some driving schools offer lessons on how to drive on snow and ice to people who want to improve their techniques and gain confidence when it comes to winter driving.

Winter tune-up

To drive safely during the winter months, the Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l'Électrification 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

Planning your trips

Before leaving, make sure you can make your trip safely by consulting:

Winter tires: mandatory from December 15 to March 15 inclusive

From December 15 to March 15 inclusive, all passenger vehicles registered in Québec, as well as taxis, must be equipped with winter tires.

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


Winter tires: be ready before December 15

Even though winter tires are not mandatory before December 15, winter can arrive early. Don't let it catch you unprepared!

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

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

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.

Winter tires requirement: a few exceptions

The winter tires requirement does not apply:

  • for the first 7 days following the purchase of a passenger vehicle from a dealer
  • for the last 7 days before the end of a lease of 12 months or more
  • to passenger vehiclesA motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, a moped and a minibus, owned by a natural person, designed to carry up to 9 occupants at a time, where such transportation does not require a permit from the Commission des transports du Québec, and used mainly for personal purposes. with dealer plates (X plates)
  • to passenger 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 passenger vehicle or taxi
  • 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 in cold temperatures

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.

Since we can generally expect such weather conditions before December 15, it is highly recommended that you equip your vehicle with winter tires before then.

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.

Check the tread depth of used winter tires

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

Even though legislation allows for the use of tires with a tread depth of only 1.6 mm (2/32 in), below 4.8 mm (6/32 in) you may be compromising your safety.

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. That 4-digit number corresponds to the 2-digit week and 2-digit year in which the tire was made.

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
  • any type of taxi
  • any commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of no more than 3,000 kg

Chains are authorized on the tires of any:

  • emergency vehicle
  • farm tractor
  • road vehicle used for snow removal and winter maintenance

Driving a “mobile igloo” is dangerous and prohibited!

When a vehicle's visibility is reduced by an accumulation of snow, ice or fog, a peace officer may impose a fine of $100 to $200, plus costs, on the driver and require that the vehicle (including the windshield, headlights, lights and reflectors) be cleaned before getting back on the road.


During snow removal operations, stay away from snow removal vehicles

Snow removal vehicles have many blind spots that prevent their drivers from seeing other road users well.

It is best to stay at a safe distance when driving near this type of vehicle to ensure you are in the driver's field of vision.

This winter, for your own safety, keep your distance!