Q&A - Winter Tires & Rental Cars
QUESTION: I live in Vancouver and My friends and I are thinking of going to the Clayoquot Oyster Festival in Tofino in late November, but I remember the Pacific Rim Highway was signposted "use winter tires or carry chains between October and April". I have tried asking many car rental companies and none of them have winter tires, and could not confirm winter tires availability for November. Do you know what we could do in this case?
I have a friend visiting from abroad for this event and I am also thinking of taking her to the Okanagan and potentially to Banff. I have never been to Banff myself, and from what I heard, we really should have winter tires for the drive to Banff?
ANSWER: There are quite a few articles about winter tires here on this site. Probably the most important one to read is Use Winter Tread Tires or Carry Chains as it explains how to decide just what winter tires really are.
The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure provides information about tire chain requirements. A bit of web browsing seems to indicate that for the price difference, you will have better traction from chains rather than cables, so it is worth buying the former.
As for convincing your favorite rental company to provide a vehicle with true winter tires, that might be difficult. I looked at a number of their web sites and winter tires don't even receive a mention. If there is not a model available with winter tires you can ask about tire cables/chains. If they won't provide either one, take your business elsewhere.
If all fails and you are worried about it, buy a set of cables/chains that will fit the car you choose to rent and bring them with you.