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2018 Outback Touring 3.6R
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350 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This is my 2nd winter with my '11 OB, but the first winter where we have had actual snow worth talking about (and not that much at that in SE Michigan). My OEM Continentals are doing OK for treadwear, and at 28K miles have 7-8/32 depth remaining. But I was really surprised how poor they are in the snow so far.

Previous to the OB, we had full sets of wheels and winter tires on both our cars (the OB replaced my BMW 325i) and were very pleased with the performance, but I was hoping to avoid the expense and hassle of swapping and storing alternate sets, etc.

So how many here have separate winter setups? I guess if I lived in VT or CO, and also if I were still working and had to get places regardless, I'd expect to need something better. But we get less snow here than in other parts of the state (especially the western shoreline) and most people seem to make do with all-seasons, if even that.

If I do see any further problems with snow this year I might move up my tire replacement schedule regardless of wear and get a new set of Michelin Defenders next fall. From another thread here I see that they're doing well in the snow and should certainly beat the OEMs. If not, I can always go to TireRack.com and have a full mounted set of full snow tires delivered in about two days! :D
 

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2013 Outback 2.5i Premium
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232 Posts
We have seperate sets for all our cars
 

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2010 2.5i Outback, 2015 2.5i Legacy w/Eyesight
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595 Posts
Seems like this should be more of a poll thread set up by model year. In any case, I'm running Michelin X-ice Xi2's 215/70/16 mounted on a set of used '04 impreza rims in good condition that I purchased on ebay for $225 (including shipping). I would definitely recommend being watchful and going the used rim route (classifieds here, craiglists, ebay, etc.) because I paid less for aluminum rims than what TireRack charges for new steel wheels without covers.

My car is fantastic in the snow.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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12,391 Posts
there's no substitute for snow tires but favoring your next set of all seasons for something more snow friendly is a good idea.

i think mountains verses flat land are completely different too. you can drive in snow on slicks in flat land in a Subaru. slick mountain grades, all seasons can't even come to a complete stop if it's a steep switch back and packed/iced snow....flat land i'm much less worried. fewer turns/curves too.

given the nature of tire rotations on subarus, it's annoying, but it's not much more work to rotate in a set of snows. tires gotta come off anyway. in comparison to the cost of the vehicle and that you'll essentially extend the life of your all seasons, it makes a lot of sense. if you have two sets of tires - they'll last you longer - so it doesn't necessarily create higher tire expenses....i mean it does, but it's not by the cost of the snow tires alone, it's only a fraction of that.

of course if you don't drive much or rack up many miles then your tires loose traction due to age so there's more to it.
 

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2013 OB Limited 2.5 CVT
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53 Posts
We have winter tires on all three vehicles in our household. Long winters here plus lots of wind blown icey highways. Even put them on our new 4wd F150 two winters ago.

I installed Xice3's on the OB days after picking it up at the dealership. We are on the highway alot in the winter and I feel much more relaxed driving knowing the snow tires are on.

Most people talk about how expensive they are but I had the same set of Nokians on my Jetta for seven winters and they were still in good shape when I sold the car. Basically your summer tires last twice as long if you are using two sets of tires :)
 

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2014 2.5 Outback Premium CVT 72,000 mi (previous: 2012 OB 2.5 base 6-MT, totaled at 73,532mi)
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534 Posts
Just got a set of Blizzaks last week. We bought our OB on leap day last year. The rest of last winter the contis did OK, acceptable but not great. We do a lot of mountain driving to go ski, and this year the tires were a lot worse. After 17 k miles, they seen to be worn enough to lose whatever flexibility they had to make them perform OK. I've heard it said that all seasons will do that; give you one winter, then not work for the second one.
 

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2013 OB 3.6R SAP
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203 Posts
I drove my '13 up the road to Timberline Lodge (which is a winding, moderately steep two-lane road) on Mt Hood in the Oregon Cascades on (new) OEM contis. Packed snow with light gravel, and they worked great. I had to soft-pedal it a bit, but as long as I paid attention they were fine, passing all the FWD cars that were chaining up. Coming down with a bit of fresh snow on the ground I just put the transmission in manual mode and used 1st & 2nd gears to moderate my speed. Again no problem.

Having said that, with more challenging conditions (or a desire to maintain higher speeds) the snow tires would be a must. I'll probably get a set eventually.

Also, looking at all the data, I'm not sure the Defenders are an upgrade over the Contis for snow & winter conditions in general. Not trying to start a war but personally I'd keep the Contis if they were going to be my only set of tires and I needed them to work occasionally in winter conditions.
 

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Outback Executive 3.0 MY08 (VTD/VDC/LSD)
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915 Posts
I always have dedicated winter tires on a second set of wheels on my AWD-vehicles. The convertibles only have summer tires but are only driven in summer.
 

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2017 Limited 2.5i
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1,131 Posts
We run winter tires on all the family cars and suv's, except my BMW as it's only driven in nice weather. When you consider that you're not wearing out the regular tires while the winter tires are on, it's really only the initial cost that is a concern. The added safety and traction is absolutely worth it!
 

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2018 3.6R Limited
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265 Posts
Nokian WR-G2's for me in Boston. Great all year tires, not quite as good as true winter tires in snow/ice, but very, very good in all conditions. The only all season tire I know of I trust in the winter.
 

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2018 Outback Touring 3.6R
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350 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Some good responses here! Interestingly, there was just an article in the auto column of our local paper saying how a "generation" of drivers has grown up thinking that special snow tires are not necessary any more. But all it takes is one comparison drive to see the difference.

For the record, this is how I would rate the last three vehicles I've owned in winter driving:

1) '04 BMW 325i (RWD) with winter tires (Dunlop Wintersport).

2) '98 Audi A4 Quattro (AWD) with OEM all-seasons.

3) '11 Outback with OEM all-season Contis.

FWIW, the BMW and Audi were manuals and the OB has the CVT (not sure what difference that makes in this context).

So if it looks like we might get back into a weather cycle with snowier winters again, I'll probably move to a set of winter tires on the OB. As many have pointed out, it's not that much added cost since miles on the winters means fewer miles on the regular tires.
 

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2011 2.5i Steel Silver Metallic, Limited , Moonroof
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125 Posts
I've got a separate winter setup for both our subarus. I've got Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT on OEM sized black painted 17" aluminum wheels from tirerack. On the Forester I have a set of General Altimax Arctic on OEM Subaru Outback wheels from a 2007 limited. They are great and I will never run anything but snow tires in the winter around here. It makes acceleration much better, but more importantly they really enhance turn stability and braking. Additional benefit is that wet performance is great with such deep channels in the tread.

My goodyears are quiet and dry performance is great. The Generals are even better but are loud on dry pavement and kind of squirmy. I wish I could have found the correct size in the Generals for my application. I generally run them mid december to late march or early april depending on the year.
 

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Bridgestone Blizzak DMV1

I grew up near Philadelphia.. never heard of snow tires till I moved to VT. Still for my first 2 cars here.. till 1998. never had them. I remember those white knuckle drives to work not knowing if the FWD car would stop coming down even the slightest hill. From 1998, have had a set of snow on steel rims for each car. My 15 yr old 98 van has had the same steel rims from Tirerack from 98.. and a few sets of tires.. blizzak WS-15, then drifted to Hakka 2s that we did not like.. then back to Blizzak WS-50s there. I think this is only the 3rd set in 15 years but they should have been retired.

For the '13 OB, i got 16" steel rims from Tirerack (could not find anything used around here that was not all salt corroded) wheel covers (that I have not put on.. actually like the black incognito look currently) and bought Blizzak DMV1 215/70/16 from costco with free mounting / balancing for lifetime.. and the $70 rebate at the time. They mounted on the rims.. (yes I bought TMPS for them.. programmable schrader ezsensors from amazon that costo programmed with no issue , cloning to factory sensors so no trip to stealer) and I took them home and mounted them myself so I was sure they did not hurt the allows or car with some monkey.

I just drove in this little snow storm (not bad up here ) before any plows in about 6" and never felt more secure. The summers saw about 30 miles on them and now are tucked away safely in the basement, cleaned, waxed.. stacked.

I never thought to look at other choices of tire but the X-Ice3s I think would have been the same price roughly and people seem to like them perhaps better. The Blizzaks are completely quiet .. no drone.. nothing.. just like the summers as far as I can tell.. and the alloys are safe and sound from winter's muck.

Now I need some useful flaps (aka factory ones are useless) to try to save the car from getting covered in grunge as we drive. I just wish they were not $140 but I think it has to be done.
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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14,366 Posts
I've got a separate winter setup for both our subarus. I've got Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT on OEM sized black painted 17" aluminum wheels from tirerack. On the Forester I have a set of General Altimax Arctic on OEM Subaru Outback wheels from a 2007 limited. They are great and I will never run anything but snow tires in the winter around here. It makes acceleration much better, but more importantly they really enhance turn stability and braking. Additional benefit is that wet performance is great with such deep channels in the tread.

My goodyears are quiet and dry performance is great. The Generals are even better but are loud on dry pavement and kind of squirmy. I wish I could have found the correct size in the Generals for my application. I generally run them mid december to late march or early april depending on the year.
I have the General AA's in 215/60 on my stock 17" wheels. Slightly narrower than the stock size, same outside diameter. They feel just a tiny bit squidgier than my summer tires when cornering.
 

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2013 Outback Limited 2.5 EyeSight & 2010 Legacy Premium, 2010 OB Limited (traded)
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2,129 Posts
I am surprised nobody mentioned the TPMS issue yet owners in the US have with Gen4 Outbacks. This could add considerably to the cost and hassle of going with dedicated winter tires. There are a few choices here but no of them ideal. First you could just buy winter tires and wheels from Tire Rack (or wherever) without TPMS sensors and do the swap twice yourself each year. The reason I say do it yourself is many tire shops have stopped doing this as of last year being that they are now in violation of the law to bypass TPMS. Of course your TPMS wont be functional in the winter and you would have to look at your TPMS light all winter or put black tape over it (not your smartest move but the cheapest). Second you could just buy tires and have dis-mounts and mounts and balance done twice a year. This will cost and be a little harder on the wheels. Third you could just spring for the cost of 4 TPMS sensors in your winter wheels but just be aware that it requires that the codes be programed into the ECU every time you swap over. This usually requires the dealer. Some shops have the equipment. There are some new TPMS sensors out that may get around this by letting you enter your existing sensors IDs but some are having trouble with this process. It may be worth looking into. Fourth you could just buy winter tires that are designed to be used year round as nagarjuna suggested below. This will be my choice when the time comes.

Nokian WR-G2's for me in Boston. Great all year tires, not quite as good as true winter tires in snow/ice, but very, very good in all conditions. The only all season tire I know of I trust in the winter.
See here: Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems and the Law: Part 2 of 4 | The WECnology Wire

And here: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-present/51014-aint-some-bull-winter-tire-tpms-issues.html
 

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2013 3.6R SAP
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50 Posts
I just wish that dash light would happen to break. That legislation should have included a requirement to be able to retain a second set of sensors. It seems odd that a safety measure discourages using winter tires which ultimately probably provide a greater safety benefit than sensors that don't light up until the tire is extremely low anyway. I still don't understand why so many tire shops can't program the sensors. They've always done that on my cars before.

But anyway for the topic at hand, I definitely get a second set of winter tires. I have the X-Ice Xi3 now which work great for me though I previously have had Blizzaks and found them to handle the extreme of the extreme with more security. What I like best about the X-Ice though is that they retain a lot of handling and seem to hold up better in the 40-50F temps than past winter tires I've had. That makes me feel more comfortable in keeping them on through a longer period of time to cover those times that freak snowstorms can still occur.

For SE Michigan though, I think I'd be tempted to go with a normal tire that has better than average performance in winter conditions. Then just be prepared to deal with the conditions as they come. I hear good things about the WR-G2 but are the gains in winter traction worth the cost in summer handling and tread life? But there aren't many alternative options to compare to.
 

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2013 OB 3.6R Ltd w/Eyesight; 2016 OB 3.6R LTD w/Eyesight
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26 Posts
We just picked up our second 4th Gen OB last week. The 2010 OB has a dedicated set of 225/60/17 Blizzaks on steelies and the 2013 OB has a dedicated set of 225/60/17 Michelin X-Ice3's on steelies. I've had a few occassions to drive a loaner OB (without winter tires) and the difference is noticeable. The increased grip is very noticeable during hard braking, cornering and accelerating from a stop.

I personally believe that winter tires are an added bit of insurance that will save me from having to stand out in the cold (to survey the damage from a collision).
 

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2017 Limited 2.5i
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1,131 Posts
I am surprised nobody mentioned the TPMS issue yet owners in the US have with Gen4 Outbacks. This could add considerably to the cost and hassle of going with dedicated winter tires. There are a few choices here but no of them ideal. First you could just buy winter tires and wheels from Tire Rack (or wherever) without TPMS sensors and do the swap twice yourself each year. The reason I say do it yourself is many tire shops have stopped doing this as of last year being that they are now in violation of the law to bypass TPMS. Of course your TPMS wont be functional in the winter and you would have to look at your TPMS light all winter or put black tape over it (not your smartest move but the cheapest). Second you could just buy tires and have dis-mounts and mounts and balance done twice a year. This will cost and be a little harder on the wheels. Third you could just spring for the cost of 4 TPMS sensors in your winter wheels but just be aware that it requires that the codes be programed into the ECU every time you swap over. This usually requires the dealer. Some shops have the equipment. There are some new TPMS sensors out that may get around this by letting you enter your existing sensors IDs but some are having trouble with this process. It may be worth looking into. Fourth you could just buy winter tires that are designed to be used year round as nagarjuna suggested below. This will be my choice when the time comes.



See here: Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems and the Law: Part 2 of 4 | The WECnology Wire

And here: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-present/51014-aint-some-bull-winter-tire-tpms-issues.html

Since I purchase my snows and wheels from Discount Tire (America's Tire in California) they have the programmer and reset my TMPS every year whenever I switch over. Free of charge :)
 

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2006 Outback Wagon 2.5i 5spd MT Atlantic Blue Pearl
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261 Posts
I run snow tires on my OB and my wife's 2000 Cavalier. When I had my 95 Civic, I ran snows on that too. AWD helps you go, snow tires help you turn and stop. Still waiting for a lot of snow to drop today, but I can assure you that in 8+" of snow, the snow tires definitely help.

I did take my OB (and my wife's Cavalier) out in the snow before I put the snow tires on this season. Wow.....much more squirrely, much less control.
 
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