Labour shortage creates tire-changing headaches in Quebec as Dec. 1 deadline nears

·3 min read
Quebec requires vehicles to be equipped with winter tires between Dec. 1 and March 15. The fine for failing to have the proper tires can vary between $200 to $300, plus fees.               (Charles Contant/CBC - image credit)
Quebec requires vehicles to be equipped with winter tires between Dec. 1 and March 15. The fine for failing to have the proper tires can vary between $200 to $300, plus fees. (Charles Contant/CBC - image credit)

Delroy Webley owns DW Auto in Montreal, and as Quebec's winter tire deadline looms, he's been hard at work.

He does about 25 cars a day, and it will be like that for at least another month as customers are eager to hit the road — travelling to places they couldn't this time last year with so many public health measures in place.

"They're ready to travel," said Webley, and the province requires all vehicles be equipped with snow tires between Dec.1 and March 15.

But keeping up with demand is a challenge for many garages. Over at Merson Auto, Mark Bisares says his garage is struggling to do about 100 cars per day.

The problem is he just doesn't have enough staff, he said.

"It's difficult to get staff to come in or even to find staff that are willing to do the work," Bisares said, remembering when he used to have 20 mechanics on duty. "Now there's probably 10."

CAA-Quebec recommends people widen their search, calling garages and dealerships farther away to find the needed service or products.

There are also home services available that could be an alternative this year as long as it is a reputable company with the proper equipment, said Jesse Caron, an automotive expert with CAA-Quebec.

"The tire change season this year is a challenge for everybody," said Caron.

Charles Contant/CBC
Charles Contant/CBC

The lack of staff and supplies has been hard not only on garage owners and workers, but also consumers as it's tough to get prompt service and they can't always find the model of tire they want, said Caron.

There are still plenty of tires available, he noted, but some models are in short supply.

"They will find some products, but maybe not the exact model that would suit their vehicle and driving style the best," Caron said.

He said garages have been struggling to retain labour, making it harder to keep up with customer demand.

Spring tire changing is a bit easier because there's no deadline to take the winter tires off, he said.

"There's so many people at the same time who want service and it's hard to find qualified labour to answer these needs all at once," said Caron.

Quebec's automobile insurance board (SAAQ) says all four tires must be in good condition, and depending on where you live in the province, it may be better to change your tires well before the Dec. 1 deadline.

Be sure to check the date the tires were made, especially when you are buying them, the SAAQ says, as the tread on older tires is harder and less effective on snow and ice.

The date of fabrication can be found on the tire's wall. For example, 3613 means that the tire was made in the 36th week of 2013, the SAAQ says.

"As soon as the temperature drops below 7 C, or when there is ice or snow on the road, the rubber compound of summer and all-season tires hardens and loses its grip," the SAAQ says.

"Moreover, the treads on summer and all-season tires are not designed to hold snow like those on winter tires."

The fine for not having the proper tires varies from $200 to $300, plus fees.

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