By William Crooks
As the first snowfalls of the season sprinkle the Townships, local garage-owner and mechanic Larry Paradis’ schedule is completely booked with tire change appointments. Moving the day two weeks in advance (from Dec. 15 every year to Dec. 1) back in 2019 was a good idea, he said, but it shortens the window for garages to get it all done in time unless people plan ahead. Other, less essential repairs could have you waiting quite a while. “Book your appointments two weeks ago,” he said with a wry grin.
According to its website, Quebec’s transportation authority enforces mandatory winter tire usage from Dec. 1 through March 15 for all vehicles registered in the province, including rentals. Non-compliance with this safety regulation could result in fines between $200 and $300.
Certain vehicles are exempt from this winter tire mandate, such as heavy and utility vehicles, farm machinery, emergency motorcycles, and motor homes. New vehicles from dealers and vehicles at the end of a lease term longer than a year are granted a seven-day exemption post-purchase or pre-lease termination, respectively. Other exemptions include vehicles with a removable or temporary registration and those holding a SAAQ-issued winter tire exemption certificate.
To meet the province’s winter driving standards, tires must either feature a designated winter tire pictogram or be equipped with studs. The regulation permits the use of studded tires from Oct. 15 to May 1 for certain vehicles including commercial vehicles under 3,000 kg, passenger cars, and taxis.
The SAAQ advises that winter tires should have a minimum groove depth of 1.6 mm; however, for optimal performance in winter conditions, a depth of at least 4.8 mm is recommended. To check tire wear, inserting a quarter into a tire’s groove is a quick measure; if the caribou’s snout is completely visible, the tire may not provide sufficient grip for snowy conditions.