When Do You Need Winter Tires or Snow Chains?

If you plan to travel British Columbia roadways when wintry conditions are a possibility, you should carry chains and be prepared to install them if needed. When you come to a posted sign on the highway stating “Winter Tires or Chains Are Required Beyond This Point”, you must be ready to install chains or have proper winter tread tires before proceeding.

Should you go beyond that point without the proper equipment, you may be subject to a fine. If road conditions worsen, be sure to install your chains before you reach an uphill grade.

Pay attention to whether approaching vehicles are using chains or having difficulty. If you have any doubts, chain up before proceeding.

When you encounter a sign or flashing amber lights with a message that indicates vehicles over a certain posted GVW (gross vehicle weight) must chain up, then carrying the chains is no longer sufficient.

The tire chains MUST be installed at that point. Failure to do so may result in a fine or other enforcement action. Proceeding without the proper equipment installed could also cause you to lose control of your vehicle, endangering your own life and the lives of others.

Click here for tips on safe winter driving.

Winter Tires

Transport Canada recommends the use of a winter tire that has been rated for severe snow conditions. These tires have a pictograph of a mountain peak with snowflakes on the side. In section 208 (1) of B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act there is a more specific definition of “winter tire.”


Tires marked with the pictograph of a peaked mountain with a snowflake meet specific snow traction performance requirements, and have been designed specifically for use in severe snow conditions.