Can I buy Canadian-made winter tires? Maybe, maybe not.
With snow already on the ground or just around the corner it is time to think about winter tires – essential equipment in many parts of the country. Canada does have a number of tire factories though my research indicates we mainly produce specialty and industrial tires, not the type that go on passenger vehicles.
The tire supply chain is truly global, and whether by design or coincidence it is near impossible to buy based on country of origin. Chances are your tire retailer cannot tell you where any of the tires they sell are manufactured. This information may be in a database somewhere up the chain, but not at the retail store or website. To determine origin it is necessary to look at the DOT code on the sidewall and find the two-letter factory code. The tires are all labelled (quite well if you can decipher the codes) but this information is not available pre-purchase.
Further complicating matters it seems manufacturers produce DIFFERENT SIZES of the SAME MODEL tire in DIFFERENT COUNTRIES. For example in one showroom I visited there were examples of the same model tire (Michelin Xi3) from 5 factories in 3 countries: Spain, Russia and Thailand. Good luck figure out beforehand where your Xi3 tires are coming from!
In that same showroom with dozens of tires on display I found only one made in Canada: Michelin Lattitude, for light trucks and SUVs. Am I confident all Michelin Lattitude tires are made in Canada? No. Still, as this is the only domestically produced tire I’ve found it may well be your best chance of buying Canadian this winter!
Second and lower tier brands seem to be almost exclusively made in China, perhaps not surprising given the cost can be less than half of the well known brands.
Interestingly I found quite a few Goodyear winter tires made in the US. This suggests passenger tires can be produced economically in North America, which begs the question why are more not made in Canada? If you prefer to buy tires made closer to home check out Goodyear Eagle and Goodyear Nordic Winter.
If you know of any other tires made in Canada, drop us a line. We would be happy to add them to this article or post a follow-up.