When is the Best Time to Remove Winter Tires?

Must Use Winter Tires Sign April 30
Photo courtesy @LaoneHuman via Twitter

Much like naively donning shorts and a t-shirt at the slightest sign of spring, the temptation to swap out winter tires can be strong. But be careful: the consequences of prematurely exposing Vitamin-D deprived skin with fewer threads pales in comparison to facing severe winter weather with unsuitable summer treads.

Let’s face it, Old Man Winter doesn’t care what our calendar claims. He’s been known to revel in pranking people travelling through mountain passes on April 1 (yes, April Fools’ Day), the day winter tire and commercial chain requirements ended in years past.

Not this year.

Since 2019, mandatory winter tire and chain requirements extend to April 30 on select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas.

Which routes, exactly? Well, we’ve got a trio of handy maps for that, one for each region. Here’s the Southern Interior. Collect them all by visiting our Designated Winter Tire & Chain-up Routes webpage.

Winter Tires or Carry Chains Map

So, the question remains: to swap or not to swap? Tires, that is.

Well, the answer is obvious if you travel any of the highways we ironically marked in green, the colour of new growth springing to life. In this case, green means there’s a chance the white stuff could fall here through April. You’ll notice northern BC and high elevation mountain passes are coloured accordingly.

On the other hand, if you tend to stick to highways marked in orange, there is less of a chance of running into snow after March 31. But anything can happen. These are only guidelines – Old Man Winter doesn’t listen to us. Fortunately, you can check road conditions via the DriveBC website before heading out.

Remember: a legal winter tire is defined as one with at least 3.5mm of tread and either the mountain/snowflake and/or M+S marked on the sidewall. However, it’s important to note the differences between these two tires.

Severe winter tires with the mountain/snowflake emblem maintain good traction in winter conditions because they are composed of a rubber compound that stays soft in cold temperatures. They also have an aggressive tread design for added traction on snow and ice.

Meanwhile, M+S tires may not perform as well as severe winter tires in harsh conditions; however, they have a shape and tread design that gives better traction than summer tires in snow and ice.

Therefore, some people choose to use mountain/snowflake tires in the winter, and M+S tires the rest of the year.

When it comes to commercial vehicle drivers, we know many choose to keep chains onboard year-round. Because, why not? Good idea to be prepared at any time, in any situation.

Now that you’re informed about the extended winter tire and chain regulations, it’s up to you to decide whether it’ll be the right time for shorts, t-shirt, and a tire swap come April. What will it be? Let us know in the comment section.

Page 1 of 21 comments on “When is the Best Time to Remove Winter Tires?”

Leave a Reply to Tian Yu Cancel reply

  1. Is it possible to get a better (larger) map in the West Kootenay area? The highway number dots on the map completely cover Trail and Rossland, and it’s not clear where the actual demarcations are between the March 31 and April 30 sections. Given there are no “April 30” signs posted in our area yet, it would seem unfair to convict someone on the basis of the map alone.

    Reply
    • Hi Paul – we are working on getting you this information, at this time it might just be a list, not a map. Stay tuned.

      Reply
    • Hi Michelle. All-season tires with the M+S symbol on the sidewall, and with at least 3.5 mm of tread, are considered legal winter tires on all BC highways. We do, however, recommend winter tires with the mountain/snowflake symbol on the sidewall for severe winter conditions, which can still exist along high spring snowfall areas, such as mountain passes, through April.

      Check http://www.drivebc.ca before you go in order to see road conditions along your route. Safe Travels!

      Reply
    • HI Tian Yu,

      In BC, winter tires fall into three main categories, which are all-season, all-weather and the three-peaked mountain/snowflake snow traction tires. (So you can legally drive with the tires you have on your vehicle now).

      Currently, the road looks bare along your route, but we suggest you check this webcam before you go: http://images.drivebc.ca/bchighwaycam/pub/html/www/65.html Also, check DriveBC.ca for any current information, as weather can change quickly at high elevations.

      Safe journey!

      Reply