Personal or Commercial Vehicle – How and When to Chain Up

Highway signs informing drivers to have winter tires and chains from Oct 1 to April 30

The first time I ever tried to put chains on my car was in a snowed-in mountainside parking lot. My fingers froze, the sun sank lower, and when I finally got the chains fastened, I crept down the snowy road with gritted teeth, wondering if I’d done it right.

Trust me, you want to learn how to put chains on your vehicle before the need arises. If you need practice, then watch this video guide and try it out, so you and your vehicle are prepared for the possibility of slippery conditions.

Tires and Chains for Passenger Vehicle Drivers

When you come to a posted sign on the highway stating “Motorists Must Use Winter Tires/Commercial Vehicles Must Carry Tire Chains, October 1 – April 30 (or March 31),” you must have proper winter tread tires for your passenger vehicle. Should you go beyond that point without those tires you may be subject to a fine. (Passenger vehicles could once carry chains only, but are now required to have winter tires).

At the very least. you must have Mud and Snow (M+S) tires. If you regularly travel in snow and ice, we recommend the ones with the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol. Whichever kind you have, they must have a minimum of 3.5 mm tread depth. Learn more about How to Choose from 4 Types of Tires for Winter Driving in BC.

If road conditions worsen, be sure to install your chains before you reach an uphill grade. Pay attention to whether approaching vehicles are using chains or having difficulty. If you have any doubts, chain up before proceeding.

For Commercial Vehicles Operators

If you’re driving a commercial vehicle and encounter a sign or flashing amber lights with a message that indicates vehicles over a certain posted GVW must chain up, then carrying chains is no longer sufficient — the chains MUST be installed at that point. We advise being well-experienced with How to Install Tire Chains on a Commercial Vehicle. Failure to chain up may result in a fine or other enforcement action. Proceeding without the proper equipment installed could also cause you to lose control of your vehicle, endangering your own life and the lives of others.

You might be wondering what type of chains to buy, which wheels to chain, and whether your vehicle’s Automatic Braking Systems or Automatic Traction Control are a good enough substitute (they’re not). For more information about chains and traction devices for commercial drivers in BC, see Commercial Vehicle – Tire and Chain Requirements. 

You’ll find which BC routes currently require chains at DriveBC’s Commercial Vehicle Chain Requirements.

Wherever you travel, and whether you’re driving a vehicle that’s big or small, following these chain and tire requirements will help you (and others) reach your destination safely.

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Page 1 of 121 comments on “Personal or Commercial Vehicle – How and When to Chain Up”

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  1. I am ferrying up to AK with my AWD Highlander Sept 15. I am concerned that I may be driving back to the states when October 1 rolls around. Will I be ticketed if I do not have studded tires on? Thank you,
    Janet Moreland

    EDIT: I read through your site and it turns out I have M&S tires, so I think I’m good to go on Oct. 1.

    • Hello, Anand – thanks for your comment. Fabric type devices such as auto-socks are OK for passenger type cars, whereas vehicles of a certain weight class require steel chains. Hope this information is helpful. Safe travels.

      • Thank you editor, could you additionally clarify if Auto sock are Ok for SUV’s like Hyundai Santa Fe XL / Nissan Pathfinder. We are two families travelling for the long weekend.

        I am not able to locate the weight class info for steel chains.


        • Hello Anand, both types of vehicles you’ve listed are considered passenger vehicles by the ministry and are allowed to use auto socks. If either of the vehicles don’t have auto socks, they will need to carry chains, know how to install them and be prepared to use them. Hope this is helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions.

  2. Hello! This question regards Hemlock Valley Road’s “chains required” rule… I have studded tires on all four wheels of my AWD Subaru Crosstrek. My vehicle’s manual explicitly states that snow chains are not recommended due to limited clearance in the wheel-wells. Do studded tires satisfy that requirement? or do I still have to carry chains when they’re not recommended for my vehicle? Thank you.

  3. Hey Editor, hoping for some clarification here.

    Several people have asked about Hemlock Valley/Sasquatch Resort. The resort’s website states that all vehicles MUST carry chains in the winter on Hemlock Valley Rd., and that this is a TranBC requirement. They quote MVA 208 and link to the Winter Driving page as backup… but I can find nothing there that specifies this or any other roads as “passenger vehicles must carry chains.”

    All your replies below suggest this is NOT a requirement for Hemlock, but just a “good idea.”

    Someone pointed out another page on THIS site about Mt. Washington, where you DO state that “Drivers MUST use good winter tires, carry chains and know how to use them when travelling on the Parkway in the winter.” Is this the ONLY road that still has this requirement? I remember the “must carry chains” signs for cars used to be a lot more prevalent.

    • Hello Matt – thanks for your great question.

      Regulations requiring all vehicles carry chains are not new on this route; however, ministry engineering and ops staff did install updated signage a few years ago, advising that all vehicles carry chains in their vehicles during travel.

      By law in BC, passenger vehicles must have winter tires (marked with either the mountain snowflake or Mud and Snow logos) on designated routes. As noted on our winter driving webpage, we encourage drivers to use winter tires AND carry chains (in case of extreme winter weather situations) while travelling these routes.

      Regulations on Hemlock Valley Road take the regulations one step further and require (by posted signage on this route) that passenger vehicles on the road also carry chains.

      This is a specific and legal application of BC MVA regulation section 208 (2) (3) and (4), which state:

      (2) The minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act may, by public notice or by placing signs, prohibit any vehicle or a class of vehicles from being driven or operated on a highway, unless the vehicle is equipped with chains, winter tires or traction devices, or a combination of these, that the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act considers adequate in view of prevailing road conditions.
      (3) A public notice or sign under subsection (2) may provide differently in relation to specified dates, prevailing weather conditions or any other criteria the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act considers necessary or advisable.
      (4) A person who drives or operates a vehicle in contravention of a prohibition made under subsection (2) commits an offence.”

      This is the same application of regulation which motorists will find on the road leading to Mount Washington Resort (as you noted above). Like Mount Washington, Hemlock Resort sits at high elevation, compared to where the access road starts which is down on Highway 7, which lies along the Fraser River. Rain in one location (by the river), means snow is very likely at the other (up at the resort). Once a single vehicle gets stuck or disabled on this road, due to surface road conditions, all is lost and it will more or less shut the road down for all – meaning nobody gets to go skiing or come home after skiing for supper. A lot of people travelling to the ski hill might be “fair weather” skiers. They do not often travel this road and are not prepared to encounter these kinds of conditions.

      “Carry chains” signage was more prevalent in the past before tires were crafted to such specific standards for winter ratings.

      We hope this helps to clarify. If you need any further information – let us know.

  4. I’ve been chaining commercial tandem and triaxel trucks my life 45 years travelling all the Kootanay passes I think it all should start with your driving school trainers they are useless rocky pro drivers teach barly if anything to do with chaining up in the pass I think maybe some of them should be tested because you’re paying for mountain run you should no how and wen to chain up or don’t go up the salmo creston today a nightmare every body stuck no training bad spots to start learning on your own

  5. Hi, I am living in Vancouver, job is delivery and I drive 12 hrs all over Vancouver burnaby. Since this year has lots of snow and I don’t see City cleaning side roads.
    My question is can I use a tire chain and drive? I don’t feel safe on the side roads its frozen ice road .

  6. Question on Hemlock valley road in bc. Will have a light truck or suv travelling this road with winter tires. Is there a particular style of chain that is acceptable?
    Some chains span the entire circumference of the tire, while some are ratcheted through the wheel.
    If the vehicle is 4 wheel drive or all wheel drive, must the chains be placed on a specific axle? More than two tire positions?

    • Hi there Jared – thanks for your question.

      We recommend drivers use four winter tires that are evenly matched in tread type and depth; however, you must have at least two matching winter tires on the primary drive axle, even when driving a 4X4 vehicle. Mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal construction and size compromises stability, and should be avoided. When placed on a vehicle’s primary drive axle, steel link chains provide superior traction in snow and ice and will minimize slippage on a banked curve. Cable chains provide adequate traction, but lateral slippage may occur on banked curves. A textile sheath placed over a winter tire improves traction in the same manner as steel tire chains. They work best on snow and ice. When used on asphalt they will quickly degrade. Here’s a link to more info:

  7. I want to drive up Hemlock Valley Road to Sasquatch Mountain on April 20th. I can’t find the dates you need to carry snow chains until. Is it Aril 30th? or March 31st?


    • Hi Joanne – thanks for your question. Winter tires are required on this route until March 31, but given the unpredictable weather often found in higher elevations, we encourage you to carry your chains, just in case. Better to be safe thank sorry!

  8. I am interested in visiting Sasquatch Ski Resort which is up the Hemlock Valley Road. There is a chain up sign at the bottom of the road. Does this apply to vehicles (i.e. a pick-up truck with mud and snow tires) with the proper BC winter tire requirements, or it this sign specifically for commercial vehicles?

    If this is for commercial vehicles I have a second question. I have heard of times when the RCMP were turning vehicles away that did not have chains, would this have just been under extreme weather conditions if the vehicles did in fact have proper BC winter tires?

    • Hello Jeff,

      The chain up sign on Hemlock Valley Road applies to all vehicles travelling on this road. The BC RCMP are responsible for enforcing this. Commercial vehicles are required to carry and use chains on mountain roads and the BC RCMP are allowed to turn vehicles away if they determine the vehicle to be incapable of making the trip safely. We hope that this information is helpful.

  9. I have new snow and ice tires on my pickup truck. Would I need at least M & S tires on my horse trailer for the mountain passes? Not that I would ever attempt them if they had snow on them!

  10. My question is if you’re running the tires winter tires that are requires that have all the stipulations on the tire open tread sniped be able to withstand -7 condition and has the symbol on the side are you required to still put chains on when the light is flashing if you’re running BC regulation winter tires please can I have an answer

    • Good morning Randolph – thanks for your question. Before we can give you an answer, we just need to clarify that you are driving a commercial vehicle over 11.794 kg? If you are, then yes, you are required to use chains.If you are driving a regular passenger vehicle, your winter rated tires should be fine. The chain up regulation flashing sign is intended specifically for those commercial vehicles over 11, 794 kg. Hope that this helps.

  11. Thanks for your interesting website. May I ask a question from the other side of the world? What are your views on the relative merits of diamond pattern and ladder pattern chains on heavy vehicles? Our experience is that on steep, icy mountain roads ladder chains on the rear drive give better traction for climbing, while diamond chains on the front give better stability for steering and braking when descending. What do you think? Thanks. Ron

    • Hi Shamsher,

      This information is updated by our staff across the province through DriveBC. If you notice an issue with the information on the chain up site, we encourage you to connect directly with and ask for updated information. Hope that this helps!

  12. I have the Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires currently on my vehicle. All the info I’ve read up say that these tires are more than capable of performing adequately on snow. In fact I had these tires last winter while driving in Vancouver’s various snow storms and had no issues at all. These tires do not bare a snowflake symbol or the m+s on them. Based on what the manufacture says regarding these tires, am I able to use these tires while driving from Vancouver to Whistler? I also have tire chains.


    • Hi Rob,

      Thanks for checking in with us. Good news – I took a look at the Continental ExtremeContact DWS tire online. The picture I saw shows they do indeed have the M+S symbol on the sidewall (it’s in smaller text below the model name), so they are legally acceptable for driving the Sea to Sky to Whistler, as long as they have at least 3.5 mm tread depth. Good idea to carry those chains you mentioned, too. Safe travels.

  13. Hello,

    I will be towing a utility trailer (car trailer) over the coquihalla this week, which is before the March 31st deadline for winter tire restrictions. I’m confirming whether the trailer has M+S tires on it, but I imagine it does not as most trailers that i’ve used tend to have cheap summer tires on them.
    Does the utility trailer have the same restriction as passenger vehicles? The pickup truck I will be using has proper winter tires on it (snowflake). I’ve been all over the websites and I found information for RVs but was unsure of the utility trailer. ? Thank you for the help!

    • Hi Sean,

      As long as the hauling vehicle has proper tires you are allowed to tow your utility trailer with its standard tires. Please give yourself lots of time, so you aren’t in a hurry, carry chains for your truck (just in case) and remember to check DriveBC. Safe travels.

  14. This is a great resource thank you. But the one question that is not addressed is vehicles using chains within city limits (Vancouver) and the maximum speed allowed which operating a vehicle with chains (or equivalents).

    Recently I witnessed a vehicle pass me that was using chains. The road was mostly bare and his speed was excessive for chains (~ 55 km/h).

    I recall living in a town in Ontario where there was a bi-law that prohibited the use of tire chains within city limits because of the damage chains inflict on the asphalt.

    Can you clarify rules (laws) for when chains are not permitted (b/c I found nothing) and tells me if there are any laws governing maximum speed while using chains.

    Thank you.

    • Hello Shawn,

      Thank you for connecting with us here. BC MVA regulations state that chains and other traction devices need to be designed by a manufacturer and the maximum safe speed for those chains would be identified by the manufacturer. Section 19 of the BC MVA states that vehicle operators cannot operate with chains on their tires on bare asphalt or concrete roads, such as bridge decks, unless you can show you are doing so safely. Snow and ice covered roads will also control the speed travelled and absorb any excess energy. Hope that this helps!

  15. Hi, I have couple of questions:
    1.we are driving a van with all season tires and with the weather right now esp. living
    an alley makes it little bit difficult for us to get out. Do we need to chain up? Snow tires are really expensive.
    2. We are planning to Drive from Burnaby to. Whistler in an all season tire, is that possible? Or do we just put chains instead of buying winter tires?
    Thank so much!

  16. HI, My question is regarding ski hills. I keep seeing “must carry chains” like up to Hemlock Valley.
    According to M+S 3.5mm and snowflake mountain symbol I don’t need to. I’ve driven to Kelowna from the valley in some crazy weather without any issues.
    I drive an all wheel drive jeep with good M+S tires and am yet to get stuck anywhere in my 25 years of driving.
    Do I now need to go and get chains for my jeep (which I probably can’t use anyways because of my aluminum rims)?

    • Hi Chris,

      Good question! We gave your question to the area manager for Hemlock Valley and they told us that while winter tires are a requirement, ski hills can have additional requirements for chains. This is because ski hills have very different grades and road conditions than a highway (generally steeper sections, narrower, mixed surface types like gravel or asphalt, etc.) There is currently a chain up sign with flashers near the bottom of Hemlock Valley Road and the signage messaging and placement is currently under engineering review. We hope that this helps!

        • Hi Jeff – The engineering report recommendations are still under review; however, we are implementing improvements where and when possible, such as the recent culvert improvements and gravel maintenance over the winter to address potholes. Carrying chains is required as per posted signs on Hemlock. We hope that this is helpful.

        • The engineering report recommendations are still under review; however, we are implementing improvements where and when possible, such as the recent culvert improvements and gravel maintenance over the winter to address potholes. Carrying chains is required as per posted signs on Hemlock. We hope that this is helpful.

  17. I am planning to travel from Vancouver to Kelowna on the Coquilhalla this week. My vehicle has the m+s tires with the minimum tread requirement. My question is, do I NEED to bring chains with me on the trip? I know there are times when you are required to put on chains and not having them means you can’t drive, however what I am concerned about is if the conditions do not require putting chains on am I still required to have them in my vehicle in order to drive on the Coq?

    • Hello Andrew and thank you for connecting with us here. M+S tires with the minimum tread depth are acceptable for travel but we strongly encourage travellers over mountain passes to always carry chains and be prepared to use them. If you do not have them and conditions are fine, you will not be turned around for not having them. But if conditions change (and they can do so very quickly), the BC RCMP can turn you around. In short, having a set of chains in your car is always a good idea – even if it is only to add a bit of weight to the back end of your car!
      Hope that this helps.

  18. Kudos to you – great info!
    I am a 55 year old Canadian who has lived all over this great land. Trying to get away with the bare minimum is a fools game. Nature is not interested in you or your time frame. Nature doesn’t care that you only drive a certain road once a year or will only be there for a couple of hours. Nature is not current on the price of snow tires or chains.
    Make it your practice to be as prepared as you can possibly be and not to be in a hurry. It, I am sure, is the sincere wish of the editors of this useful site that you never find yourself in a situation where you need the extra gear.
    Prepare for the worst Canada has to offer and she will more often show you her best.
    Ask yourself one question; if you were stuck in a ditch at midnight with no other vehicles in sight at -20c because you decided to save a few bucks on properly equipping yourself…
    Was it worth it?

  19. Hello,

    I have a friend who travels from Vancouver to Whistler on a weekend basis. I am wondering if chaining up is sufficient on a small passenger car that is equipped with all season tires? Or if M+S or Snow tires are required and chains are not ok to use on all seasons.

    Thank you!

  20. Hello,

    I’m planning to drive to Nelson, BC this weekend. I just checked my tires and they have the M+S symbol. I’ve never been there before, and do not have chains. Do you think it’s sufficient to go there at this time of year without chains? Please advise.


    • Hi Jun,

      Since more than 60 per cent of all B.C. drivers travel the province in places where snow rarely falls, the ministry does not require all drivers to equip their vehicles with winter tires. This is why it is legal to use tires with the M+S symbol and a minimum 3.5mm tread depth. But, because weather can change quickly in B.C. mountain passes, we strongly encourage you to carry chains and check DriveBC so you can know before you go. Hope that this helps!

  21. Hello – Im arriving in Vancouver in December and want to visit family in Kamloops but after hours of searching Ive yet to find a rental company that will provide snow tires (save Budget – sold out). Does the same law apply to rental cars?

  22. Hi All,
    I commute over the Malahat daily (Duncan to Victoria) where vehicles must have the M&S or the mountain with snowflake symbol on their tire. I have a brand new vehicle with all terrain/season tires displaying symbols of all seasons (including snowflake although different from mountain symbol). I have been to ‘Big O Tire’ and to ‘Ford Dealership’ where both informed that the tires are legally ok and I do not need to replace with new ones. Can I please get some advice from others if you agree? Many thanks.

  23. It makes me angry to be forced to spend a large amount of money on snow tires for the 3 or 4 times I might drive over the Malahat this winter. Most days we have warm weather and there is no snow or ice on the highway. Often, it is completely dry. There should be some discretion that can be used for a car to drive these 20 or so kilometers on a warm fall day.

  24. Hi!
    I live in Fort St John BC and drive a passenger car. Because I drive within city limit and sometimes my front wheel drive is not enough is it legal to use these Tire Snow Chains Tendon VAN Wheel Tyre Anti-skid things?,searchweb201602_4_10057_10056_10065_10068_10055_10054_10069_10059_10058_10073_10017_10070_10060_10061_10052_10062_10053_10050_10051,searchweb201603_4&btsid=f93cb4ff-efbe-42be-ab5f-02b43c113787
    Did not find anything that prohibits using them. Thanks

    • Hi Vlad,

      The BC MVA regulations were specifically written requiring the manufacturer (not the seller) of a product to endorse and label their product as something “designed by a manufacturer to increase the friction between a tire and a road surface covered with ice, or snow.” If you can find a manufacturers statement or label indicating this, they would be acceptable for use on BC highways.

      Here is some more info for you:–%20M%20–/47_Motor%20Vehicle%20Act%20%5BRSBC%201996%5D%20c.%20318/05_Regulations/29_26_58%20-%20Motor%20Vehicle%20Act%20Regulations/26_58_04.xml#section7.001
      7.001 In this Division:
      “traction device” means
      (a) in the case of a commercial motor vehicle, any of the following, if designed by a manufacturer to increase the friction between a tire and a road surface covered with ice or snow:
      (i) subject to section 7.164, studs;
      (ii) a wheel sander;
      (iii) automatic tire chains;
      (iv) a textile tire cover;
      (v) 2 circular metal loops connected by strands of steel cable, if both outside tires of a power drive axle of the commercial motor vehicle are equipped with chains;
      (vi) chains;
      (b) in the case of any other motor vehicle, any device designed by a manufacturer to increase the friction between a tire and a road surface covered with ice or snow.
      [en. B.C. Reg. 177/2015, App. s. 2.]

      Hope that this helps. If you have any other questions, please let us know. Safe travels.

      • Well, looks like it falls under this section :
        (b) in the case of any other motor vehicle, any device designed by a manufacturer to increase the friction between a tire and a road surface covered with ice or snow. [en. B.C. Reg. 177/2015, App. s. 2.]
        Thank you!

  25. Hi
    I have a question concerning commercial vehicles. Class 8 semi tractor trailer, 5 axle with 2 drive axles. Concerning tire chains for driving over Highway 5 Coquihalla Highway. We normally run cable chains in Washington State. I recently found out that cable chains are not legal to use in BC unless you also have link style chains on. We usually chain the outside tires on both drive axles.
    -Could we legally chain the outside tires on one drive axle with link chains and the outside tires on the 2nd drive axle with cables chains? Or are they all 4 required to be link chains?
    -Is there a minimum amount of link chains we are required to carry?
    -Is there a minimum amount of chains we are required to install when needed?
    We do our best to cross the Coquihalla Highway when the roads are decent. But I wanted to know what is legally required if we do need to chain up.

  26. Hi,

    I am planning a long distance move from Prince Rupert to Vancouver using a U-Haul 17′ truck, GVW=14050lbs. As I understand, U-Haul trucks have all-season tires only (I assume they are M+S and I will call to find out) and I believe I do need to carry chains according to the requirements. But I am not quite sure what it means by “carrying” chains? Does it mean having chains on board and be prepared to use them when adverse weather condition arises? or do I really need to physically put the chains on the tires before I get pass the highway sign.



    • Hi Nick,

      Good question. Carrying chains means having chains with you and being prepared to use them should the need arise. Please remember to check DriveBC so you can know what road conditions on your route are like before you go. Hope that this helps and thanks for connecting with us here.

  27. I have a 2007 fj cruiser with good snow tires , I have rented a 16 foot flatbed trailer from uhaul to take a 1991 Honda prelude from abbotsford to Kelowna and was considering going over the coquihalla this Saturday the 16th. I understand we are supposed to get big dump of snow? anyways do I need chains for the fj and or trailer? any help would be appreciated ?, or just go around through Kamloops and monte lake!
    thanks doug

    • Hi Doug,

      Your trailer does not require chains but we do recommend that your truck with snow tires should still carry chains. Please check DriveBC for weather conditions before your trip so you can make alternate route plans if need be. We also encourage you to read our winter driving website which has more information on winter tires, maps of routes where winter tires are required and how to install chains on your vehicle. Hope that this helps!

  28. hi i am doin a 1 day trip to Invermere, British Columbia and i will only be there for like 6-8 hours max i am wondering if i am required to have chains or not i have a 2001 ram 2500 diesel 2wd i do have a highway terrain m+s tires on the front and snows on the rear they even have the mountain with the flake would i be ok with what i have with out chains

    • Hi Mark,

      Yes, it is legal to drive the Sea to Sky north of Squamish with M+S tires, as long as tread depth is at least 3.5 mm. However, for best traction in winter conditions, we recommend winter tires with the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake symbol. Safe travels.

  29. Hello here in the states all wheel drive with all season tires is given an exemption to the carrying chains and or using snow tires are there different requirements or exemptions for all wheel drive (not 4 wheel drive)

    • Hi Kelly,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. There are no exemptions in place for vehicles with all wheel drive in BC. Here the focus is on the right tires. All season tires with the M+S emblem (and a minimum 3.5 mm tread depth) are acceptable. All wheel drive won’t help you stop in a slippery situation, but proper tires will. Hope that this helps.

    • Hi Kevin,

      The good folks at the CVSE have replied to your inquiry directly, but we also wanted to share the answer here in case others were wondering. Only the motor vehicle requires winter tires or chains. Thanks again for contacting us.

  30. Commercial trucks weighing more than 5,500 kg GVW do not tend to use winter tires.

    Commercial vehicles 27,000 kg GVW and greater, such as tractor trailers, are required to carry chains on most major highways. Good practice is to keep them onboard at all times.

    Vehicles 5,500 kg to 27,000 kg GVW may use M+S or mountain/snowflake tires in lieu of chains, if available.

    We have a commercial vehicle under 5,000 kg gvw, do we just need Winter / M+S Tires or do we need to follow the carry chains part as well?

    There is no information regarding smaller commercial vehicles.

    We have M+S Tires (New, Full tread).

  31. The bulletin was withdrawn after re-examination of the legislation contained in the Motor Vehicle Act. Neither of these devices is currently approved and only conventional tire chains will meet the requirements of Section 208.

  32. Hi, I have read a lot regarding what is required (tyre type)in British Columbia over the winter period and that on certain highways you must have the correct winter tyres. However, I will be visiting Canada next winter (2015-2016) and would therefore rent a vehicle. All the rental companies in Vancouver have indicated that their vehicles will all be fitted with “All season tyres” – How about this? How can these restrictions apply on winter tyres but none of the rental companies are complying to this and you are therefore stuck with “All season tyres” and will purchasing snow chains yourself. Would you still be permitted to drive these highways (Vancouver -Kamloops-Whistler-Vancouver) based on the fact that it is a rental SUV and would you still get fined anyway? How is the law being interpreted then?

  33. Do I have to carry chains if my passenger car is All Wheel Drive and I have M&S tires with good tread? When am I required to chain in this situation? Thanks for your reply.

    • Hi Gini,

      M+S tires with a minimum tread depth of 3.5mm are the minimum requirement for passenger vehicles on most BC highways.
      Carrying chains and knowing how to use them is a great idea, but not required by law for passenger vehicles at this time in BC. Commercial Vehicles are required to have chains and know how to use them, and this blog post is aimed more specifically at those drivers. Hope that this helps!

  34. I see alot of questions regarding motorcycles and whether or not they are affected by the BC winter tires & chains requirements… It clearly states in your “wintertiresinbc-handout” that you have linked to your site that “For almost all models of motorcycles, winter tires are not available. For this reason, there is no requirement for motorcycles to be equipped with winter tires in BC. Signs posted in BC clarify that motocycles are not required to use winter tires. The Ministry does, however, recommend motorcyclists not travel provincial highways when winter conditions are present or forecast.”

    So am I wrong in saying that motorcycles are welcome on all BC highways, year round, with any tire rating, and the choice to travel is solely at the discretion of the rider?

    • Yes; however, we should make a couple points about the idea of “any tire rating” and “driver discretion.”

      First, motorcycle tires and wheels must fit requirements detailed in the Motor Vehicle Act. See Sec 20 entitled “Tires, Wheels” here:

      Second, motorcycles should not be on the road:
      – in bad weather
      – when bad weather is forecast
      – if the temperature is near or below freezing
      – if road conditions include snow, slush or icy conditions

      Police may turn all vehicles around, including motorcycles, if they think conditions are unsafe.

      Thanks for the question.

    • Hi Scot,

      It depends on what type of vehicle you are driving. As the signs indicate: passenger vehicles must have winter tires, commercial vehicles must carry chains.

  35. Just wondering if Autosock is acceptable in BC in place of tire chain. – AutoSock – the advanced tire snow sock solution for safety, control and comfort on snowy and icy grounds!

  36. Does a large motorhome require snow tires or is it sufficient to carry tire chains. It is not practical to buy snow tires as that would cost a minimum $2500 (not inc front tires which would add another $1200 plus)

    • First, check to see if your tires have M+S on the sidewall. The minimum requirements for passenger vehicles, including RV type vehicles, to drive legally on signed highways between October 1 to March 31 is to have winter tires known as M+S tires. M+S tires are also known as “All Season” tires. The minimum requirement for RVs is M+S tires, unless those types of tires are not available for a particular RV, which could be the case for your vehicle if it’s a Class A type RV. M+S tires are not available for some Class A type RVs. In those cases, chains are required instead. Hope this helps. For more information:

  37. Hi

    is it acceptable on BC highways( indicating a chain – up area) to use snow cables instead of the actual chains? I’ve looked online and cannot find anything addressing this issue. I purchased cables , not chains and would like to know if I need to return the cables ad buy chains instead.

      • I found this from the Gov’t website. Here is the link


        It is recommended that commercial vehicles use steel link chains as they have been proven to provide superior traction and prevent lateral slippage. Cable style chains are permitted if used in conjunction with steel link chains which have been installed on the outside of a drive axle. Cable chains do not provide adequate traction on roads with sloped curves (super elevated curves) on their own and can actually cause a vehicle to slide.”

        It seems like cable chains are not permitted. Please let me know if I am wrong.

        • Hello,

          Thanks for catching this. When we replied to this comment in 2014, cable style chains were acceptable. However, in September of 2015, regulatory language was changed to the wording you quoted here. Our winter tires website was subsequently updated with the new language but we must have overlooked this 2014 comment. To clarify – cable chains are permitted only if used in conjunction with steel link chains as cable chains do not provide adequate traction on roads with sloped curves. Hope that this helps and if you have any other questions, let us know.

  38. We are driving south for the winter in a pickup truck but will have to use the Hope Princeton highway. Is carrying chains sufficient for our 1 day trip? Other than that we live in the lower mainland so don’t need snow tires which could cost up to $1500 installed so for one day especially at the end of October, it doesn’t make sense to buy tires so we hope its okay to just carry chains. Chances are there will be no snow on the road and in that case do they even check?

    • Hi Lynette,

      If your pick up truck has M+S tires with a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm that will meet the minimum requirement for travel. Bringing along chains just in case would be a good extra step, and we encourage you to check DriveBC before you go so that you are informed of current road conditions.

  39. Are all highways in BC marked with winter driving condition signs? If the highway is not signed, I assume that means I can use all season tires, and only need winter or M&S tires when the highway is posted? Will the RCMP be checking all vehicles, or only if you are involved in an accident?

    • Hello Peter,

      Most highways (with the exception of a few coastal routes, shown on this page as maps: require M+S or mountain snowflake tires with a minimum tread depth of 3.5mm for travel from October 1 to March 31. Essentially there are 3 places in BC that do not require M+S (All-Season) tires in BC. Fraser Valley between Highway 7 and the USA border from just west to Hope, BC on out to where the greater Vancouver area meets the sea… including Horseshoe Bay, the East Coast of Vancouver Island from Victoria to Campbell River excluding the Malahat and located adjacent to Highway 1 and Highway 19 along this route, and within the city limits of the cities in BC, unless stated otherwise by a cities bylaws. Please look on the maps at the link above for details. The BC RCMP have the authority to ticket or turn around vehicles that are not properly equipped for severe winter driving, as well as if a vehicle is involved in an accident. Hope that this information is helpful – thanks for connecting with us here.

      • Can you please divide your response to properly delimit the three excluded areas? It gets very confusing, especially toward the end, where you have embedded exclusions (i.e., is Highway 19 included or excluded?). I recommend bullet points or separate lines. Thank you.

  40. Thanks for quoting the laws and giving the rote answer about winter tires. You have not addressed the concerns of the previous writers. I now understand motorcycles are not legally allowed on most Hwys after Oct 1 and I have to install my winter tires when temperature are well above those recommended by the tire manufacturers. Commercial vehicles only need to carry chains. How much time and tax dollars were spent to poorly rewrite this law?

    • Hello Ross,

      As you might have heard, Minister Stone recently clarified that the M+S or winter snowflake logo requirement does not apply to motorcyclists. As you know tire manufacturers do not make winter tires for most motorcycles. Under the Transportation Act, the minister can, by placing signs, prohibit vehicles that are not equipped with winter tires from a highway. The signs do not show motorcycles. The minister said that motorcyclists must apply common sense and not travel in inclement conditions. In severe winter conditions, police may turn all vehicles around if they think the tires are unsafe for conditions; this includes motorcycles. Thanks for connecting with us here, we hope that this helps!

  41. I am planning a late November move on BC highways in a UHaul rental truck (14,000lbs GVW and 8100lbs empty weight) with an auto hauling trailer in tow. Uhaul will only supply all-season tires on their vehicles and trailers. Is it acceptable to only “carry” chains (a pair for the truck and a pair for the trailer) and use if required on the highways? Thank you….Brian

    • Hi Brian,

      Thanks for checking in. The law allows M+S (all-season) tires for your vehicle weight. We suggest asking the company if its tires have M+S on the sidewall, and a minimum 3.5mm tread depth. However, as you’re likely leaving at a set date with little flexibility regarding departure times/dates, we recommend you also carry chains so you’re prepared to travel in all types of weather conditions.

      Chains are handy for trailers as they prevent the trailer from slipping sideways at slow speeds when a vehicle traverses curves, which are often super-elevated (sloped) to make the curve easier to negotiate at speed.

      Hope this helps.

  42. RE: your trans bc online -“do I need to chain up?” .
    Until the new sign in this posting came along this year the instructions for the winter months were winter tires or carry chains. I carried chains and in the worst months had snow tires on. It is very difficult to determine from your article whether carrying chains is legally enough anymore. I am hoping that the situation is as it was i.e that you can carry chains but must be prepared to put them on when conditions demand. If you have changed the law then I think it is very unsatisfactory since over the last week i would have been required to use fast wearing winter tires with inferior roadholding in 20 deg temperatures.
    I suspect that the law hasnt changed. I am not interested in wasting your time on hat you think is the best technological solution -I just want to know whether the I can get fined or anything with just chains. I understand that the cope can send me back if consitions and my car equipment warrant -but thy can do that anyway.
    Iam trying not to be picky but at present 90 % of the cars will be illegal on malahat if snow tires are required without exception. It may be neat and tidy – but it brings the law into disrepute and its sloppy! With respect Peter Smy

    • Hi Peter,

      Only carrying chains in a vehicle that is not equipped with the appropriate tires is not permitted on signed highways. On these highways, your tires must either be marked with the mountain/snowflake or M+S (Mud and Snow) emblem on the sidewall, and have a minimum 3.5mm tread depth. If you haven’t purchased specific winter tires, check your tire’s sidewall – there’s a chance it will be marked with M+S.

      Tires marked with a mountain/snowflake symbol offer the best traction on snow, ice and in cold weather.
      Tires marked with an M+S offer better traction than summer tires, but are less effective than mountain/snowflake tires on snow and ice, and in cold weather. M+S tires (with a minimum 3.5 mm tread depth) are a winter tire for compliance with current highway signage requirements.

      Whether you use mountain/snowflake or M+S tires, it is still a good idea to carry chains for severe conditions.

  43. This new requirement has not been thought through properly. M+S tires are well known to be little better than summer tires, and essentially useless in snow.

    This leads to the absurd situation where a Kelowna resident cannot drive over the Bennett bridge (which is part of Hwy 97) to get to West Kelowna, on a typical warm October day.

    Does this apply to motorcycles? If so, it means that all motorcycles are banned from nearly all provincial highways for 6 months of the year, including those nice warm 20 degree Fall riding days we get here in the okanagan valley! Why? Because the M+S symbol, and the snowflake symbol, are car tire ratings, and are not used on any motorcycle tires.

    • Hi R.F.

      Thanks for sharing your concerns with us.

      Tires marked with a mountain/snowflake symbol on the sidewall offer the best traction on snow and ice and in cold weather.
      Tires marked with an M+S offer better traction than summer tires, but are less effective than mountain/snowflake tires on snow and ice, and in cold weather. M+S tires (with a minimum 3.5 mm tread depth) are a winter tire for compliance with current highway signage requirements. However, for better winter driving performance, on snow and ice and in cold weather, tires with the snowflake and mountain symbol depicted on the tire’s sidewalls are recommended.

      Motorcyclists are classified under the passenger vehicle category in the Motor Vehicle Act and therefore subject to the same restrictions as cars. Because motorcycle tires do not typically run on M+S tires, they would require studded tires during the winter tire season.