3 in 10 Canadian drivers think winter tires are a ‘cash grab’

Winter tires get a lot of bad press. Last winter, we shared this article on Facebook and it became one of our most popular pieces of the year. People had lots of feelings. Negative feelings.

Facebook comments: snow tire skeptics

Many of those feelings were echoed in a survey that we conducted in partnership with Ipsos in November 2016. We asked 1,005 Canadian drivers for their thoughts on winter tires:

  • 29% of Canadian drivers said they aren’t going to install winter tires

  • 32% said they believe winter tires are a cash grab

  • 26% don’t think winter tires are significantly better than all-seasons

  • 31% of men, versus 21% of women, are more likely to say winter tires aren’t much better than all-seasons

The numbers get even more interesting when segmented by age, revealing that millennials lead the pack in both positive and negative winter tire sentiments.

Attitudes toward winter tires by generation

 Millennials
(18-34)
Gen X
(35-54)
Baby Boomers
(55+)
I believe winter tires are a must have84% agree77% agree73% agree
Having winter tires can help lower insurance rates79% agree70% agree67% agree
It should be mandatory for all automobiles in Canada, regardless of province, to use winter tires from November through March74% agree65% agree62% agree
Winter tires are cash grab37% agree34% agree26% agree
Winter tires aren't that much better than all-season tires29% agree27% agree23% agree

Attitudes also differ by region. Drivers in provinces with milder winters are less likely to install winter tires or to agree that they should be mandated. BC and Alberta are good examples. While 71% of Canadian drivers said they install winter tires, 52% of BC respondents and 39% of Alberta respondents said they do not. Their other winter tire opinions are no more favourable:

Attitudes toward winter tires by region

 BC driversAlberta driversAll Canadian drivers
Winter tires are a must have59% agree66% agree77% agree
Winter tires are a cash grab39% agree39% agree32% agree

Winter tires aren’t much better than all-season tires

35% agree35% agree26% agree
Winter tires should be mandatory in Canada52% agree54% agree66% agree

The flip side: 3 in 4 Canadian drivers say winter tires are a ‘must have’

While winter tires do get a bad rep, the Ipsos survey also revealed surprising support for winter tires: 3 in 4 Canadian drivers (77%) agree that winter tires are a ‘must have’ and 7 in 10 (71%) say they always install winter tires during the cold months.

And the rest of the findings supported this — most drivers have positive attitudes towards winter tires.

That means the bad rep comes from a small but noisy portion of drivers who don’t use winter tires at all. And those are the drivers the rest of us have to watch out for.

Here’s a breakdown of how Canadians, overall, feel about winter tires.

Surprisingly supportive: 2 in 3 drivers think winter tires should be mandatory in Canada

In other words, 66% of Canadian drivers — Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces especially — believe winter tires should be required by law. Quebec is currently the only province with this law, but the debate is ongoing across Canada.

RegionWinter tires should be mandatory
Quebec86% agree
Atlantic provinces70% agree
Ontario63% agree
Manitoba/Saskatchewan61% agree
Alberta54% agree
BC52% agree

In defense of the discount: 7 in 10 drivers say winter tires lower car insurance rates

As you saw above, many drivers were unhappy with the cost of winter tires versus the size of the insurance discount last year. But the 2016 recent Ipsos survey paints a very different picture.

72% of respondents vouched not only for the winter tire discount, but also for the position that yes, winter tires, in general, can help you lower your car insurance premium. That’s in-tread-able!

It may also be indicative of drivers’ changing attitudes. More and more Canadians may be focusing on the long-term benefits of winter tires instead of on the upfront costs. Winter tires aren’t cheap, even if you buy them used or online, but they are designed to make winter driving safer.

So even if some of us get really pissed because they’re expensive, remember that winter tires are about saving lives, not money.

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