Winter Tires: Don't Wait For the First Snowfall

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The cold season is approaching, and winter tires are mandatory on all passenger vehicles in Quebec starting December 1st. Auto dealers and tire retailers will generally give you the same advice: don't shop and book an installation appointment at the last minute!

The tire industry is going through an unprecedented situation due to various production, logistics and transport issues which have been amplified by the pandemic. Delays are being reported and, although there is no fear of a real generalized shortage, inventories could run out more quickly for certain brands - mainly those from Asia - as well as for specific models and sizes.

For example, light truck, SUV, and crossover tires are in high demand, but supply for specific sizes for those vehicles - ranging from 17 to 20 inches, especially – could become problematic. Even 19-inch car tires could run out more quickly than usual.

CAA-Quebec reports that prices are on the rise in many cases: 10-20% for Asian brands, 4-8% for European brands like Nokian and Michelin. Drivers who do not have a big budget for winter tires may have to pay a lot more than expected. And those who think they can save money by switching to Asian brand tires this year could end up paying more in the end compared to mid-range American tires.

A limited choice of tires available could encourage dealers and mechanics to encourage customers to change wheel size. Before taking this decision, check your vehicle's specifications carefully and remember that driving dynamics may be slightly impacted.

This is because 16-inch tires don't have the same footprint and don't offer the same handling characteristics as 17-inch tires, for example. And don't make the mistake of replacing only two tires at a time or, even worse, have a combination of various tires installed. Having four identical tires is essential for even wear, proper handling and better overall performance, especially for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

Don’t wait for the first snowfall to book your tire change appointment. It is recommended to have them installed as soon as the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius for a few consecutive days. “Waiting is taking the risk of being told that there is no room in the next two to three weeks, explains Pierre-Serge Labbé, vice-president of automotive services at CAA-Quebec. By booking ahead, not only do you respect the legal obligation of December 1st and stay safer on the road, but you make it easier on mechanics who really need it at the moment!”

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