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2012 Outback, 3.6R Limited
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Subaru's are typically a little more front biased with the AWD so putting them on the front may give better traction for steering. Putting them on the back will not guarantee you do unintentional donuts. The Brake system is also front biased so there is a danger of the car spinning out under heavy braking.

That said I have spun out in cars that had too much brake force from the rear too. Know your car and learn to drive in the elements if you have to drive in them.

The vehicle will not perform well with chains on only one axle so you get to decided: Do I want to be able to steer, or stop? :p

If it's me, I'm putting them on the front. Most of the time you can't stop anyway.
The CVT is front biased, the 6 speed MT is 50/50, and the 5 speed auto on the 6 cylinder is rear wheel biased (55/45). Wonder if the AWD system dictates what tires the cables should go on.
 

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2014 Outback Limited - 2.5 CVT - Graphite ---- 'Rehomed' 2012 Outback Limited - 2.5 CVT - Deep Indigo Pearl - Could be a Black Bumper Masonite car ---- "RIP" 2010 Outback - 2.5 CVT - Silver - So's m
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If it's bad enough to warrant chains, after I have an AWD Subaru and four winter tires, then I'm not going.....
My experience with CA (I80 & RT30 + Rd to Kirkwood) is a bit dated. If I needed to install chains on my 74-Chevy-Blazer it was because the road was closed and the CHP wanted us off the road. I only put the chains on the blazer in the parking lot to make sure they fit over the deep tread snow tires.

I'm now at the age that getting there isn't important. I'll wait at the bottom of the mountain until the road (to town) re-opens or the chairlift starts turning. The AWD/4x4 is there because sometimes I want to go over the pass to ski at another resort.

I used to be young and foolish. Now I'm only 1/2 that.
 

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If it's bad enough to warrant chains, after I have an AWD Subaru and four winter tires, then I'm not going.....
R3 is the designation the CHP/CalTrans uses to identify a road that requires chains on all vehicles, including AWD and 4WD.
Interestingly, R3 is seldom declared because the road is closed before R3 conditions occur.
Ca is the land of ignorants where snow and ice is a foreign substance. Spinouts from excessive speed close the road anyway at a R2 level. (Chains on 2WD ehicles)
 

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The CVT is front biased, the 6 speed MT is 50/50, and the 5 speed auto on the 6 cylinder is rear wheel biased (55/45). Wonder if the AWD system dictates what tires the cables should go on.
Nope my 2001 5spd MT listed front wheels only IF you must have chains.

If you put chains on the rear you have rear tires with traction pushing front tires with little to zero traction AKA zero steerage.

Rear wheel drive only cars your only option is to chain up all 4 or chain up the rears and hope that you can actually steer the car. AWD you always want front wheels to have traction preferably more than the rear so you can actually drive the car.

The reason you move tires with better tread to the rear is that the front end has more traction ie weight on it to start with which case no chains just tires you want the rear tires to have good grip so the rear end stays behind you.
 

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R3 is the designation the CHP/CalTrans uses to identify a road that requires chains on all vehicles, including AWD and 4WD.
Interestingly, R3 is seldom declared because the road is closed before R3 conditions occur.
Ca is the land of ignorants where snow and ice is a foreign substance. Spinouts from excessive speed close the road anyway a R2 level. (Chains on 2WD ehicles)
Correction SoCAL is the " land of ignorants" Norcal you have thousands playing in Tahoe every week seeing in many cases FEET of snow dropped in just a few hours. We had over 3ft of snow dropped in the past 2 days this week. This storm was fairly mild and fast moving.

I was caught on the Grapevine headed North a few years back in March after doing a Regatta in San Diego. Towing the boat in snow conditions watching Socal drivers on I5 doing their level best to spin out hit other cars or simply drive right off the road. Nothing like bumper to bumper traffic on 6 lane wide road with people thinking they can hammer it as soon as traffic starts moving and slam on the brakes when it stops moving. I still have no idea how I got through there without someone taking out my $40K racing boat. I did actually pull off for about two hours when the level of stupid was off the charts.
 

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My car is a 6MT so it is not front biased, but I have to check whether the cables fit in the back. My plan is to try to avoid using them, and otherwise, get winter tires. There would be no point in having a Subaru and still having to put chains on!
Luca my 2001 legacy GT 5spd MT listed front wheels only for chains but they highly advised against using them. I used them once to go about 30ft up an iced up driveway 100% for sure you never put them on the rear. They need to be on the front end so you can actually steer the car. By the way even with the legacy I NEVER was required to chain up even when roads were actually closed! YES I did a few great escapes from Tahoe when the roads were closed and the weather window had opened long enough to bail out before the masses tried to do stupid human tricks all the way down the mountain.

The Legacy did perfectly fine traction was never an issue except with the MT you can make the rear of the car break loose simply by letting off the throttle too fast with some practice I got so I used this feature to wave off tailgaters while going strait down the road I would simply let off the throttle fast leaving the car in gear and the rear end of the car would step out a very slight touch to the throttle would bring the car right back inline strait again. Usually one time got people to back off however I recall one Dodge 4x4 that thought being glued to my ass was a great idea in near white out conditions with several inches on the road which case letting it hang out three times finally got the jack ass off my back side.
 

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Correction SoCAL is the " land of ignorants" Norcal you have thousands playing in Tahoe every week seeing in many cases FEET of snow dropped in just a few hours. We had over 3ft of snow dropped in the past 2 days this week. This storm was fairly mild and fast moving.

I was caught on the Grapevine headed North a few years back in March after doing a Regatta in San Diego. Towing the boat in snow conditions watching Socal drivers on I5 doing their level best to spin out hit other cars or simply drive right off the road. Nothing like bumper to bumper traffic on 6 lane wide road with people thinking they can hammer it as soon as traffic starts moving and slam on the brakes when it stops moving. I still have no idea how I got through there without someone taking out my $40K racing boat. I did actually pull off for about two hours when the level of stupid was off the charts.
I was thinking "some" ignorant NorCal snow sport enthusiasts drive up from the flat lands of Ca in Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon/Escalade's equipped with chrome 24"wheels and low profile high performance summer tires. They wonder why their 4WD vehicles drive so poorly in snow.
 

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I was thinking "some" ignorant NorCal snow sport enthusiasts drive up from the flat lands of Ca in Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon/Escalade's equipped with chrome 24"wheels and low profile high performance summer tires. They wonder why their 4WD vehicles drive so poorly in snow.
I rarely see that but the Vine with snow - and they lack snow removal equipment down there and you have Socal peeps driving old beaters with bald summer tires trying to do 70mph whenever the traffic started to move. The concept of water on the road be it frozen or in liquid form impacting traction is a foreign concept to Socal drivers.

Big Bear where we have a family cabin on Eagle point - is a puny little place in the scheme of things very few Socal peeps ever go snow skiing at the little Big Bear resorts.

But half the Bay Area seems to storm chase to Tahoe all winter and in many cases a high percentage of those people also live up there for extended periods. I'll take a Tahoe storm run over snow on the vine any day.
 

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The CVT is front biased, the 6 speed MT is 50/50, and the 5 speed auto on the 6 cylinder is rear wheel biased (55/45). Wonder if the AWD system dictates what tires the cables should go on.
I had the same question - whether the 45/55 nominal torque split on my 3.6R would maybe make it better to have my one set of cable chains on the rear. (which are the Super Z6 type, FWIW).

But there's definitely a bit more room in the front-wheel wells, and it's also easier to get them on and off if you can turn the steering wheel a bit. So IF I ever actually use them (they are more likely just to carry, to satisfy the CHP), I think I'll put them on the front. If the back starts to slip a bit, torque will transfer to the front, anyway. And it will just remind me to back off a bit...

In 10 years of using my old Ford Expedition to head up to Tahoe (2-3 times a season for snowboarding), I never put chains on. But I did have to engage the 4WD semi-regularly. My only actual chain usage was with an even older Plymouth Voyager (FWD) that I had in the 90's. They were definitely needed!
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Thanks for all the advice and the stories!
Now if I could only go next weekend... ah swamped with work... but I cannot wait, let's hope this winter is going to be good.
 

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Unless I missed it, some of the logic mentioned here escapes me. While chains cannot be installed on an Outback, traction devices such as "spring chains" and a "SAE class S device" are approved for use on the front wheels only. (owners manual references)
The OP seems to suggest any cheap old box of chains (or rocks for that matter) is sufficient when asked if you are "carrying chains" at a Caltrans highway checkpoint.
As mentioned, it seems as if California state law requires you to "carry chains" with no regard if the chains are actually designed to fit your car.
So what should I buy if I actually want to buy "chains" that will fit the Outback?
What is the Z6 device mentioned by the OP and what are spring chains SAE class S?
 

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Ok thanks to google, I found what I was looking for.
SCC Super Z6
 

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What model?

What model/sku Z6 did people buy? The SCC website indicates SZ143 for the Outback with the 225/60R17 tires, but I'd like to verify with someone who's actually bought/used these on the vehicle before I go spending $80 on these.
 

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I bought SZ139 from Amazon for about $58 shipped. I installed them in my garage in less than 10 minutes. Haven't actually driven on them yet.
 

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Thanks Ken. Searching around the site it looks like people go between the SZ139 and SZ143 depending on fit with their actual tires as there is some variance.
http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-present/21296-snow-chain-recommendations-3.html

FYI - for future reference for the OB or other cars/tires you can you can speak with the factory distributor (1-800-547-6806). They are really nice and helped me find a local Napa that actually has these in stock so I can find the right size for my tires.
 

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I bought SZ139 from Amazon for about $58 shipped. I installed them in my garage in less than 10 minutes. Haven't actually driven on them yet.
Keep in mind that will be the one and only time you will ever install them or have them on your subaru. LOL

10yrs of Tahoe epic storm snow skiing trips feet of snow in and out of the condo complex to get to the slope and even my Legacy GT on stock tires never needed the chains. Only time was trapped down a family members steep driveway which completely iced over - picture trying to drive up an ice rink angled at about 18degrees. Even with the borrowed cables out of his garage it was almost a no go. But I had to get home.
 

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Keep in mind that will be the one and only time you will ever install them or have them on your subaru. LOL

10yrs of Tahoe epic storm snow skiing trips feet of snow in and out of the condo complex to get to the slope and even my Legacy GT on stock tires never needed the chains. Only time was trapped down a family members steep driveway which completely iced over - picture trying to drive up an ice rink angled at about 18degrees. Even with the borrowed cables out of his garage it was almost a no go. But I had to get home.
I knew that there was a 99% chance that I wouldn't actually use them in the snow when I bought them. I could've made due with any cheap set of cables just to show CHP.

There was still that 1% chance that I would need them and figured I might as well get a set that fit. I also have a mini-survival kit in my trunk at all times. Might as well be prepared.
 

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hopefully your not using the stock conti's for this trip. They really blow ass in snow.
 

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Keep in mind that will be the one and only time you will ever install them or have them on your subaru. LOL

10yrs of Tahoe epic storm snow skiing trips sof snow in and out of the condo complex to get to the slope and even my Legacy GT on stock tires never needed the chains. Only time was trapped down a family members steep driveway which completely iced over - picture trying to drive up an ice rink angled at about 18degrees. Even with the borrowed cables out of his garage it was almost a no go. But I had to get home.
If the rarely declared R3 conditions ever occur on Sierra roadways, you will be installing cables/chains on your Subaru.
As mentioned, roads are usually closed before that happens.
Somewhere there is a Ca state law that requires carrying chains even if you never plan to use them.
 
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