The Fastest Growing Tire Category in Canada

Nov. 19, 2019

Three out of four Canadian motorists are using winter tires, and the vast majority of those winter tire owners are convinced their tires have saved them from a potentially hazardous driving situation.

Those are among the takeaways from the latest survey of Canadian motorists by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC). Each year TRAC polls the public on its use and perception of winter tires, and the 2019 survey shows 75% of motorists across all of Canada’s provinces are using winter tires, up from 66% in 2017, and 58% in 2014.

And that’s not just a matter of government legislation. Only one province — Quebec — requires drivers to use winter tires. Some provinces have no regulations at all; others have created financial incentives such as lower auto insurance rates and the availability of low-interest loans to buy the tires, to inspire drivers to make the twice-a-year tire switch.

Year     % Drivers using winter tires
1998     35%
2014     58%
2017     66%
2019     75%

The growing popularity of winter tires has propelled the category to the fastest growing tire category in Canada — based on TRAC’s analysis of its members’ winter tire shipments across Canada. How much has it grown? 5% over the past three years.

TRAC says its members represent more than 80% of the market.

“The winter tire market in Canada continues to grow at a steady pace and our statistics continue to point to a continuous improvement in consumer understanding of winter tires as an important part of the vehicle safety equipment and a product that delivers superior performance in the harsh Canadian winter,” says Matt Livigni, managing director of Continental Tire Canada.

Here’s how the usage breaks down by province in 2019:

Location % Winter tire use
National 75%
Atlantic Canada 91%
Quebec 100%
Ontario 69%
Manitoba/Saskatchewan 59%
Alberta 63%
British Columbia 68%

TRAC also asked motorists without winter tires why they haven't purchased them. Here’s how their responses break down:

Reasons not to buy winter tires  
All-season tires are good enough 51%
I don’t drive much in winter 18%
Too expensive 17%
I have no place to store off-season tires 4%
Other 9%
Don’t know/Prefer not to answer 1%

The 2019 TRAC survey was conducted online with 1,584 Canadian motorists Sept. 27-30, 2019 by Leger, a Canadian research and polling firm. The margin of error was 2.5%.