About Chains & Other Traction Devices

Drivers must obey winter tire and chain signs throughout the province from October 1 to March 31.

October 1 to March 31 Vehicles Must Use Winter Tires and Commercial Vehicles Must Carry Tire Chains

As of September 15, 2015, the Motor Vehicle Act and Regulations have been amended to clarify the definition of winter tires and traction devices such as chains including when and where they must be used. Read the changes in the Act and the Regulations.

Chains and other traction devices can significantly enhance your vehicle's traction in snow, slush and icy conditions.

We recommend that drivers of cars and small trucks install 3-peaked mountain and snowflake tires for cold weather driving and be prepared for extreme conditions by carrying chains or equipping their vehicle with other traction devices.

Most commercial vehicles must carry chains on most major highways. It is good practice to keep chains on board at all times, and to know how to install them. As of September 15, 2015 commercial vehicles may be equipped with alternative traction devices.

Types of Traction Devices

Passenger vehicles may use alternative traction devices that provide similar performance to steel link chains, however, it is recommended that you only use these devices if they have been tested for performance in winter conditions.


It is recommended that commercial vehicles use steel link chains as they have been proven to provide superior traction and prevent lateral slippage. Cable style chains are permitted if used in conjunction with steel link chains which have been installed on the outside of a drive axle. Cable chains do not provide adequate traction on roads with sloped curves (super elevated curves) on their own and can actually cause a vehicle to slide.

Automatic Tire Chains

Automatic tire chains are activated and retracted from the safety of the driver's seat, eliminating the need for manual installation of chains.

Studded Tires

These tires may only be used on BC highways from October 1 to April 30 and the studs should not protrude more than 2 mm from the tread or traction surface of the tire. Use of studded tires outside of this period may result in a fine.

Read the changes in the Act and the Regulations to get details on permissible studded tires.

If you are using studded tires, you should have them on all four wheels for even traction. If using studded tires on the front of the vehicle they MUST be used on the back of the vehicle as well.

Wheel Sander

On demand, a wheel sander system delivers grit in front of the tire to increase traction.

Textile Tire Cover

A textile sheath is placed over the tire, improving traction through increased friction. They are not a substitute for a winter tire. They work best on snow and ice. When used on asphalt they will quickly degrade.