Canada is known around the world for its chilly and harsh winters. Although Canadian winters are harsh, the weather doesn’t stop Canadians from getting on the road. To do it safely, you need winter tires.

The technology used to make winter tires is continually improving. The goal is to give drivers the best traction and control in icy and snowy environments.

Car insurance and winter tires in Canada

You may be eligible for discounts on your insurance for using winter tires. Some insurance companies reward responsible drivers with slight discounts for switching to winter tires during specified dates. The timeframe is usually December 1 to March 1 or November 1 to April 1.

In 2016, the Liberal government started requiring insurance companies to provide a discount to Ontarians that use winter tires. These insurance discounts in Ontario typically range from 3 to 5 percent. Comparing car insurance rates and conditions can help you find the best car insurance for your budget. You can also find out which insurance providers offer the best discount for using winter tires.

Best time to buy winter tires in Canada

Tire shopping is often pushed to the bottom of drivers’ to-do lists. It is time-consuming to research the best winter tires in Canada. Plus, you have to figure out when you should buy and change them.

Learning as much as possible about winter tires will help make the process easier. Your first step in purchasing winter tires is to figure out when to start shopping. You should typically switch your tires over around late fall. That said, you will want to have a set picked out by then.

When purchasing a new car, you might get a slight discount on winter tires by purchasing them at the dealership. Otherwise, some tire shops have deals on winter tires during early fall before the rush sets in.

Tires should still be available in late fall. However, discounts are hard to find as many people rush to get winter tires before the first snow. You can also buy winter tires throughout the winter or spring. However, the selection will be limited as many shops will be bought out in late fall and early winter.

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The best winter tires in Canada

Your safety on the road is not only dependent on your driving abilities but the tires on your car. In a harsh winter weather climate, you want to have the best winter tires to keep you safe. There are many factors to consider when buying winter tires. Traction, tread, durability, price, and more will determine what meets your requirements for the best winter tires in Canada. The following list will give you a start in learning what the best winter tires are for your needs.

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5


Nokian is one of the best winter tire manufacturers in the world, partly because of its northern location. The company is based in Finland and is the only tire manufacturer in the world with its own winter tire testing facility.

The Hakkapeliitta winter tire model is already known as some of the best winter tires in Canada, but the new models are pushing that reputation even further.

As EV and hybrid cars become more popular across the country, Nokian has risen to the challenge by creating winter tire models designed explicitly with EVs in mind. 

The Hakkapeliitta family of Nokian tires has been around for several years, but the newest R5 models are raising the bar for the Nordic manufacturer. The R5 model provides a smooth, quiet, and, most importantly, safe ride for drivers and passengers.

The R5 has been redesigned with a new Double Block Grip tread that covers more ground surface, giving you even more control over your vehicle. The unique tread design is also smaller, meaning significantly less noise in the vehicle and a more comfortable ride. Arctic Grip Crystals embedded into the tire also start to emerge as the tire is worn down, giving extra grip and control well into the tire’s life.

Bridgestone Blizzak ws90

Bridgestone Blizzak ws90

If you have been keeping track of the best winter tires in Canada, you will no doubt be familiar with the Bridgestone Blizzak family of winter tires. Bridgestone is known for its safety and control on the road, and the newest Blizzak ws90 model lives up to the Blizzak reputation.

Especially notable about this winter tire model is the grip and control the Blizzak ws90 has not only on slushy winter roads but on dry roads as well. Of course, winter driving is not always on wet roads. There are plenty of days when the sun shines and the streets are clear of ice and snow. On dry days, some drivers find their winter tires have less control.

The Blizzak ws90 employs a silica-enhanced tread compound that helps it stick to the road in both dry and wet conditions. This winter tire also has excellent braking distance compared to similar tires. The new Multi-Cell tread compound used in this tire also significantly improves acceleration and stopping distance on ice by removing water between the ice and the tire tread. 

Michelin X-Ice Snow

Michelin X-Ice Snow

For drivers who want a little more life out of their winter tires, consider the Michelin X-Ice Snow tire. The Michelin Man is a familiar character to many Canadians. Maybe that is why Canadians rate Michelin as producing the best winter tires in Canada.

The quality you get from this French manufacturer is outstanding, as evidenced by the X-Ice Snow winter tire that has lasted many customers a whole season longer than other winter tires. Michelin also offers a 64,000 km warranty for this tire model giving you peace of mind if you need a long-lasting winter tire.

Aside from the longevity of the X-Ice Snow, the tire's new technologies make it more effective on snowy roads. The fleX-Ice 2.0 feature creates micro-roughness on the tire surface, giving it more traction and control on icy roads. The V-shaped tread pattern also helps to deter hydroplaning. The downside of this tire is that it is quite noisy, as is the case with many winter tires.

Continental Viking Contact 7

Continental Viking Contact 7

The Continental Viking Contact 7 tire was designed to perform in Scandinavian winters. This tire is a popular choice in Scandinavia and in Canada. The redesigned tread grooves allow snow to get into the tracks. This creates snow-on-snow traction that keeps you from sliding on the road. When these treads hit slush or water, they easily wash it away to keep your tire firmly on the road.

The Continental Viking Contact 7 also performs exceptionally well on noise tests. It is one of the quietest winter tires on the market. Continental also offers a robust warranty program that includes:

Goodyear WinterCommand Ultra

Goodyear WinterCommand Ultra

Goodyear’s WinterCommand Ultra winter tires are a solid option for your new winter tire purchase. The company sought to improve upon the Bridgestone Blizzak winter tire design and included new technology in the tire compounds and tread patterns.

The Cryo-Adaptive compound used in the WinterCommand Ultra ensures an extra flexible tire that doesn’t harden in cold, wet conditions. Goodyear also employed Block Cuts and Adaptive SlipGrip technology in the tread. This brings traction on slushy roads to a new level. 

Frequently asked questions about winter tires in Canada

How long do winter tires last in Canada?

All tires will eventually wear out with use, but the life of your tire will vary depending on how much you drive, the road conditions in your area, and how you care for your tires. Generally speaking, you should be able to get four or five seasons out of your winter tires if they are changed and stored each year correctly. Driving with winter tires all year drastically shortens the life of your tires because the rubber is not meant to perform well in temperatures above 7 degrees.

You will know it is time to change your tires when the tire tread (the grooved pattern that touches the ground) wears away to about 4 mm. Many tires have a wear indicator that makes it easy to tell when your tire has worn away enough to be replaced. Tires with a tread of 4 mm or less are considered bald and need to be replaced immediately. Driving on bald tires dramatically increases the risk of an accident and could be regarded as proof of negligence by your insurance company in the case of an accident.

Which winter tires are best in Canada?

The above options are some of the best winter tires in Canada, but this list is not exhaustive. Every Canadian will be looking for something different regarding winter tires. If you are up North, you may be looking for a studded tire, residents of areas with little snow may prioritize winter tire performance on dry roads, and someone who takes often takes calls in their car will want a winter tire that isn’t too noisy. Thinking about your needs regarding your perfect winter tire will help you narrow your search. The abovementioned brands are well-known for producing some of the best winter tires in Canada, but other reputable brands include Dunlop, Hankook, Kumho, Pirelli, Toyo, and Yokohama. Always look for the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol on your winter tire. This symbol means the tire is specifically designed for winter conditions and has passed rigorous reviews for use in winter conditions.

Which winter tire has the best grip in Canada?

The Michelin X-Ice Snow is one of the best winter tires in Canada regarding grip. The tire’s popularity comes from the security drivers feel when driving on icy and snowy surfaces, but also the long-lasting life of the tire. The fleX-Ice 2.0 technology used in the tire creates micro-abrasions on the tire, giving it extra grip to counteract slippery ice and snow.

When should I change my winter tires in Canada?

Choosing when to change your tires is always a tricky question. Some people swear by switching around Thanksgiving weekend, while others wait until the last minute to change their tires in December. You may have even heard of people waiting for the first snowfall before changing their tires. There is no specified date to change your tires, but most people will have their winter tires on before the end of November. The optimal time to change your tires depends more on the temperature than the date. The rubber in all-season tires starts to harden in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius, affecting their ability to stop and giving you less control over your car. Winter tires are made of a unique rubber that does not harden in temperatures under 7 degrees Celsius, giving you much more control over your vehicle and ensuring a safer drive. Watch the temperature in your area to know when you are starting to have below-freezing days. You want to ensure your winter tires are on before the temperature hits negative 7, so you are prepared.

Are all-season tires good for winter in Canada?

Depending on where you are in the country, some Canadians feel that all-season tires do the job just fine. All-season tires are designed to perform well in “light winter driving conditions” but aren’t recommended for areas with extremely harsh winter conditions like Northern Ontario or Atlantic Canada (where 92% of the population switches to winter tires). Quebec and parts of BC even mandate winter tires by law, meaning you will be fined for using all-season tires in the winter.

If you don’t do much driving in the winter or you don’t have much ice, slush, or other harsh winter conditions where you live, you may be able to get away with using all-season tires in the winter. Using all-season tires in the winter will mean you need to be extra cautious when braking and turning, as the rubber in your tire will be less flexible in temperatures of 7 degrees below Celsius and colder. Also, remember that you won’t be eligible for possible discounts from your insurance provider that reward drivers who use winter tires. 

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