Driving Guide

【Prepare Thoroughly】What you should do before winter

  • Q1
    What kinds of equipment and tires can prevent slipping?
    A1
    Basically, winter tires and then tire chains. Let’s understand their features!

    "Equipment and tires that prevent slipping", which are essential for driving on winter roads, can mainly be divided into "Winter Tires" and "Tire Chains". "Winter Tires" include stud-less tires and snow tires. Please use winter tires when driving on expressways in winter. In addition, please always carry tire chains for sudden changes in weather such as heavy snow. The following is an introduction to the features of winter tires and tire chains.

    Stud-less Tires

    A type of winter tire that performs well even under conditions such as accumulated snow and frozen roads. They are made of a special rubber compound that remains pliable even at temperatures below 0 ℃. They provide grip for winter road driving by using large surface irregularities to dig into snow and scratch ice.

    Tire Chains

    Fitting stud-less tires allows you to drive on roads during bad conditions, but tire chains provide more traction on snow-covered roads. However, you need to attach and detach tire chains frequently to prevent accidents, such as when entering and exiting a long tunnel, as they can snap and become very dangerous when used on roads that are not covered in snow.

    * There are times when "Winter Tires Restriction" or "Tire Chains Required for All Vehicles Restriction", are enforced on expressways. Under "Tire Chains Required for All Vehicles Restriction", tire chains are required even if you have stud-less tires fitted, so always carry tire chains whenever you are driving.

    ★ Hint from NEXCO Central Nippon!

    Snowy or frozen roads are this slippery!

    When you compare the slipperiness of dry, snow covered and frozen roads, snow covered roads are 3.2 times more slippery, frozen roads 5.4 times more slippery and smoothly frozen roads are 8 times more slippery than dry roads. Please keep in mind that brakes are much less effective on winter road surfaces and drive carefully at a safe speed.

  • Q2
    What you should be aware of when fitting stud-less tires?
    A2
    Always fit to all 4 wheels as a set. Don’t forget to check them before installation!

    Stud-less tires are easy to use, as you only have to change to them once before winter, and can be safely used at any time. However, there are some points you should be aware of when fitting stud-less tires.

    Always fit a 4-wheel set

    It is a dangerous idea to think that you can fit them only to the 2 front wheels! If you use stud-less tires only on the front wheels, the difference in grip between front and back wheels causes the back wheels to slip when braking. Always fit stud-less tires on all 4 wheels.

    Check them for wear before fitting!

    The usage limit for stud-less tires is when the depth of the surface grooves is less than 50% of that when new. Check that they are not worn before using. Don’t forget to check inflation pressures as well.

    Do not drive as if you are using normal tires

    When driving on ordinary dry or wet road surfaces with stud-less tires fitted please avoid sudden steering, braking and acceleration and drive more carefully than usual.

    ★ Hint from NEXCO Central Nippon!

    Please fit stud-less tires

    You cannot drive on expressways under winter tires restriction without stud-less tires on every wheel or tire chains on the driven wheels. Because tire chains need to be removed depending on the conditions it is recommended to wear stud-less tires, which are safe even if snow falls while driving.

  • Q3
    What kinds of tire chains are there?
    A3
    There are various kinds which differ in form and materials.

    While they are all referred to as chains, their form and materials vary. Choose the ones that suit your situation by understanding their different features, advantages and disadvantages. Sizes also vary depending on which tires you are using, so please check carefully before purchasing.

    Materials

    If you are installing on normal tires, urethane and rubber types are one choice. They are slightly more expensive but are easy to attach and produce less vibration and noise when driving than metal. On the other hand, if you are installing on stud-less tires and have to drive far in deep snow or drive on snow only a few times per year, metal may be a good choice as they are often cheaper, offer high grip and are easy to store.

    Form

    A popular form of tire chains is “ladder type”. They offer stable grip in a front-to-back direction but are less effective and may slide in a sideways direction. On that point, the "turtle back type" is a form that provides good grip in both front-to-back and sideways directions. There are other types with forms in between ladder type and turtle back type, but drivability on snow covered roads generally increases the closer the form gets to the turtle back type.

    ★ Hint from NEXCO Central Nippon!

    Please use chaining areas

    On expressways there are areas provided for fitting and removing tire chains. They are located in spots just before places where snow tends gets deeper, before and after long tunnels or in service and parking areas.
    Tire chains can be torn apart when used for a long time, so please remove them often. Please always use chaining areas and do not fit or remove chains on the shoulders of roads.