How to Use Chains & Studded Tires on Ontario, Canada Roads


Although not quite as snowy as stereotypes would have drivers believe, the Canadian province of Ontario does present some challenges for winter drivers. Winters are long, with the first snow often falling in October and the last in March or April. They are also cold, with temperatures of 0 degrees Farenheit not uncommon. This weather can make the roads and highways quite slippery and dangerous to drive on. Many drivers mount winter tires on their car for the season. Tire studs and chains are also an option, although they are only legal for certain classes of drivers and roads.

Things You'll Need

  • Lightweight tire studs
  • Tire chains
  • Plastic tire chains
  • Driver's license
  • Proof of address

Studded Tires

  • Look up your hometown on a map to check your eligibility for studded tires. In Ontario, they are legal for residents living anywhere north of or within the Parry Sound and Nipissing Districts. If you live in these districts, you may legally drive with studded tires anywhere in Ontario between Oct. 1 and April 30. Out-of-province residents may also drive with studded tires anywhere in Ontario for up to 30 days. Southern Ontarians may not use them at all, and risk a fine that stood at $1,000 CAD as of October 2010.

  • Buy legal studs or studded tires. Only lightweight "Scandinavian" studs are legal in Ontario. As of October 2010, studded tires cost between $90 to $150 CAD per tire, while tire studding kits cost around $25 CAD per tire.

  • Mount the studs or studded tires and carry proof of address at all times while you drive with them.

  • Drive carefully. Studded tires help your car grip the road, but icy conditions will still drastically affect your stopping distance and control while turning.

Tire Chains

  • Drive on private roads. Tire chains are illegal on Ontario roads, but the Highway Traffic Act does not apply to private property. You may use snow chains, for example, on backcountry ATV routes or farm access roads. Do not attempt to drive on a highway with them, as you risk large fines.

  • Buy plastic tire chains. These do much less damage to the roads than metal varieties. Their legal status in Ontario has not been clarified, so it is still best not to drive on public roads with them on.

  • Wrap the chains around your tires when driving on very snowy stretches. You will need to stop and remove them if you hit bare pavement, as this will damage the chains and the road very quickly.

  • Pack snow chains in your car trunk for emergencies. If you get stuck in deep snow, chains can help you get out. If you remove them before continuing your journey, you won't risk a traffic ticket.

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  • Photo Credit Charles Maraia/Photodisc/Getty Images
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