Canadian Underwriter

Will inflation stop Canadians from buying winter tires?

November 17, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

A red car has slid on the icy road and his into the freeway medium. A moderate traffic jam with two other white cars has occured

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Even when faced with the rising cost of living, 82% of Canada’s motorists believe investing in winter tires is important, said a new survey by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC). 

However, brokers will be interested to know that, while those saying winter tires are a good idea is at a  historical high, usage has trended down slightly in recent years. The study’s reported data points excluded Quebec, where the half-yearly tire swap is mandatory.

The survey found a range of tire-change uptake across Canada’s provinces in 2022: 

  • 59% in British Columbia, 
  • 56% in Alberta, 
  • 61% in Saskatchewan, 
  • 54% in Manitoba, 
  • 65% in Ontario, 
  • And 74% in Atlantic Canada. 

Outside of Quebec, 63% of drivers across Canada said they use winter tires according to TRAC’s 2022 survey. However, that number is down from 69% in 2021’s survey.

Further, winter tire usage in 2022 is lower than in 2019, when 75% of drivers nationally and 69% in Ontario reported using winter tires, according to previous Canadian Underwriter reporting. 

The plus side is that winter tire usage is still well ahead of where it was 20-plus years ago. For example, only 35% of Canadian drivers used winter tires in 1998. 

“The not-so-good news is that 35% of motorists outside Quebec still resist winter tires despite overwhelming evidence that dedicated winter tires are essential for safe cold-weather driving,” said Carol Hochu, president and CEO of TRAC in a press release. “Greater efforts are needed to educate drivers on why winter tires are the smart choice for winter.” 

Drivers who don’t use winter tires cite various reasons, including the belief that all-season tires are good enough (57%), the cost is too high (26%) and that reduced driving in winter makes the switch unnecessary (25%).  

But for those who do invest in winter tires, a full 76% said they’ve saved them from loss of control or a collision.  

Another 38% credited winter tire laws as their reason for usage. Lower auto insurance premiums (21%) and trusted advice from friends and family (13%) were other reasons people gave for investing in winter tires. 


Feature image by iStock/com.FatCamera