Don't get stuck with the wrong tires especially if you rent
Ross Mclaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Thursday, January 5, 2017 1:46PM PST
Last Updated Monday, January 9, 2017 4:38PM PST
If you own a vehicle you probably trust your mechanic or local tire shop to put you on the road with the right tires in the winter. But if you rent or use car share you rely on the company to make sure you’re protected.
In B.C. it’s the law on some roads to have proper winter tires.
That’s why McLaughlin On Your Side did some tire checking to ensure you’re not left with a hefty fine, or even worse, stranded in the snow.
Getting around in the snow is something many drivers on the west coast just aren’t used to. And for travellers heading up to Whistler, the conditions can be treacherous. .
You need to ensure your vehicle has the right tires or you risk getting fined $109 or getting stuck. The RCMP has been checking on roads where winter tires are required.
But what if you're renting a vehicle? You should always check that your tires are clearly marked with “M+S” - meaning the tires are mud and snow rated - or the snowflake symbol. And you must have at least 3.5mm of tread. If you stick a toonie in the tire and your tread barely touches the words dollar or Canada in the silver ring, the Canadian Automotive Association says it's time to change your tires.
McLaughlin on Your Side checked many of the rental cars at the airport and other locations and found not all were equipped. Many vehicles had the proper tires, but some did not.
An Australian couple who drove in from Alberta to YVR said they were not driving on winter tires. We couldn’t see any markings indicating that they were the right to tires to be on winter tire only roads. When we came back to double check the vehicle was gone.
However, we did reach out to the major rental car companies to find out how their fleets are equipped.
Alamo, Enterprise, and National told us all rental vehicles in BC meet the requirements.
Budget/Avis said its cars are equipped too, but when asked specifically about the number of vehicles in B.C., we did not get an answer. However, a customer service representative told us that you need to ask at the time of booking for winter tires to confirm they will be available at the time and location of the rental pickup. .
Hertz, which owns Dollar and Thrifty, says its cars have All Season M+S, as well as snow tires on 20 per cent of the cars at YVR.
As for car share, Car2Go had the M+S rating and so did Evo. About 12 per cent of Modo cars are equipped for winter roads and Zipcar says 100 per cent of its Vancouver fleet complies.
In temperatures when snow is slushy, a mud and snow rated tire might be enough. But once you get into harsh conditions you’ll need the best winter tire and maybe even a studded tire or chains. And RCMP may use its discretion if you only have M + S tires on your vehicle and turn you back.
Even though the law allows all season mud and snow rated tires, the RCMP recommends you look for the snow symbol on your tires because they provide more grip and make sure to ask for winter tires when you book your car.