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We have a 2017 Subaru Outback that we are having a really hard time liking. It's our first Subaru (and last for sure) and unfortunately we bought it new so we are stuck with it for a while until we aren't completely upside down.

We are very outdoorsy, kayaking, skiing, MTB, rock climbing etc in Asheville, NC so we bought into the marketing hype that an Outback would be a great road trip car that was capable of carrying around our toys. I won't go into the list of things we hate about this car right now as we have one big issue that we need to resolve first before we decide if we will keep this car or cut our losses and buy something else that is more capable for road trips. And sorry in advance for the negative tone but we have just been so disappointed in this car, especially since we never buy new cars and splurged because we thought we'd keep this for 10-15 years.

So the last straw is that we just got back from an 8 week ski trip to Colorado. We were fairly loaded up (like any Subaru in their marketing ads) with a ski box on top full of skis, boots and gear and the cargo area was full with normal suitcases and stuff you'd take on a normal road trip for 2 adults and 2 young kids. The car had about 16k miles when we left and while in Colorado we had the tires rotated and an oil change at the local Subi dealer and they said the tires (OEM Duelers) had almost half their life left at 19k miles. We drove a bit more in Colorado and then headed home and by the time we got to KC the rear tires were really worn and by the time we got home the rears were so bald that we weren't sure we'd make it. The fronts were great but the rears were all the way bald on the outsides and a little better as you move towards the inside. We figured surely something was broken or bent in the rear end even though this car has never been off road or hit any pot holes so we took it to the dealer assuming this would be a warranty item but they wanted to charge us $90 to check the alignment. They checked the alignment and it wasn't totally perfect but was close enough that they didn't think this was the issue and they said everything looked fine on the suspension and that we must have had the car loaded too much.

While waiting at the dealer I typed googled "excessive rear tire wear Subaru Outback" and couldn't believe all of the posts on multiple forums from people having the exact same problem and it was usually during a road trip. Why would Subaru design this car to be so soft in the rear that a normal road trip would throw off the alignment so much that it ruins your tires? Why would Subaru market this car as a rugged, go anywhere with all of your toys vehicle when it reality, using it for anything other than going to the grocery store will have you buying a new set of tires every year (or 9 months like our situation)? Our other vehicle is an AWD Lexus RX330 and no matter how loaded down it is, the tire wear is phenomenal even when I abuse it using it as a work truck. We have babied the Outback but it's just so fragile. I understand the OEM tires are not great but clearly this vehicle is so under sprung in the rear that it can't handle suitcases and gear for a road trip.

Since this isn't just an isolated issue but appears to be common for anyone using the vehicle like Subaru markets it, what options do we have to make it road trip capable? Are there suspension modifications that can be made with air bags, helper springs etc, that won't cause it to ride harsh or wear tires when the vehicle is empty? When I buy new tires (this week because it has been a paper weight sitting in our driveway since we got home as we don't want to buy tires until we figure out how to fix Subaru's poor design) should I load the car up with a normal road trip worth of gear and have the alignment done like that? What tires will last longest on this tire eating car but still give us decent snow performance for each year's 2 month ski trip? We are just shocked at how incapable this vehicle is to do the very thing Subaru markets it to do and I don't think I should even use our Kuat bike rack to carry our 4 mountain bikes as even just that will overload this fragile car. Growing up in Tahoe the Subarus were known for being built so bomber but I have a feeling that those same 80's and 90's Subarus will outlast these new disposable ones.

So bummed.......
 

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are you towing a trailer? how much does it weigh? how much is the tongue weight.?

did you have the alignment on your car checked?

__

and the OEM tires suck. but rears wearing faster then fronts seems like a big problem.

edit: I wonder about air pressure vs. the load and if other tires would be tougher.

how much weight is going in the car vs. the door placard for max weight.?
 
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"Why would Subaru market this car as a rugged, go anywhere with all of your toys vehicle when it reality, using it for anything other than going to the grocery store will have you buying a new set of tires every year (or 9 months like our situation)? Our other vehicle is an AWD Lexus RX330 and no matter how loaded down it is, the tire wear is phenomenal even when I abuse it using it as a work truck. We have babied the Outback but it's just so fragile. I understand the OEM tires are not great but clearly this vehicle is so under sprung in the rear that it can't handle suitcases and gear for a road trip.
"

This is a issue well known with the factory "lifted" outback style cars since about 2004+
The old ones did not have this geometry issue. Old was better. truth. See, Subaru lifted the cars to get the SUV crowd to buy, and they softened it up to still ride good. But the result is unsafe imo. the Ghostwalk cars started in 05. And contnues across the line of Putback, Impreza Outback, not so much forester.
 

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Sounds like a toe problem related to the amount of cargo being hauled/towed. That said I would not go to the dealer for an alignment.

As the suspension sags due to tongue weight on a towed trailer or lots of heavy cargo in the rear it pushes your toe out of alignment causing the tires to wear as you are describing. If you did a tread check on the unworn portion of the rear tires I would hazard a guess that the tread depth would be very similar to that of the front.

Now without knowing more about your situation I will say that this will happen with any vehicle but I have always found the OEM Subaru alignments to be very crap and have always taken mine to 3rd party suspension shops.
 

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So its really easy on any independent suspension car/suv to burn through a set of rear tires when loaded heavy and under inflated on tire pressure. Especially with the soft high traction allseason car tires.

I do all the same heavy active trips and having the rear tires on any of my vehicles not bumped up 2-3lbs over standard psi will result in fast wear on the rears. This is also mentioned in the owners manual in every car I have. 4 cars currently.

I also have found that you need to go to a beefier tire if your doing lots of active adventure trips packing gear etc. I’m reall impressed so far with the BFG Advantage Pro’s I have on our car 20,000 miles of heay trips so far and wear so far is excellent.

Also know that After nearly 20yrs of Subaru adventures 40,000-50,000miles is all you will get out of tires on a Subaru.

If you want more miles out of tires you need a truck based SUV with heavier ply tires.
 

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Have the alignment done with 80lbs in the trunk.

Also I would be really curious what your trunk packed weight was combined with trailer tongue weight when packed. I can tell you with high confidence that 3000 miles probably loaded over max rating will trash car tires regardless of vehicle especially if the psi was not bumped up 2-3lbs at minimum.
 

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Thanks for the posts! No, we were not towing a trailer. I didn't weigh everything as we put it in the car but the back cargo area isn't big and we were just carrying all our ski gear (6 pairs of skis, 4 pairs of boots, etc) 4 suitcases with just clothes and random stuff. It was far less than similar road trips we've made in our Lexus so I'm not even so concerned with how much weight we had in it because if the Outback can't even carry our necessities for a long road trip, it's just too fragile of a car for our family. Dang, I just wished I hadn't bought into the marketing hype as I thought his was the perfect road trip vehicle for our family and all the outdoor stuff we do.

The strange thing is that there were no signs of wear on the way to Colorado and we didn't buy a single thing there so we were loaded identically on the way back. One possibility could be that the OEM tires really let go at the end of their lives but not sure. One other thing that was different on the way back is that it rained almost the whole way. I would have thought the water would have reduced friction but maybe the tires were slipping back and forth more or the AWD system was freaking out. Something certainly changed from our trip out there vs the trip back.
 

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Thanks for the posts! No, we were not towing a trailer. I didn't weigh everything as we put it in the car but the back cargo area isn't big and we were just carrying all our ski gear (6 pairs of skis, 4 pairs of boots, etc) 4 suitcases with just clothes and random stuff. It was far less than similar road trips we've made in our Lexus so I'm not even so concerned with how much weight we had in it because if the Outback can't even carry our necessities for a long road trip, it's just too fragile of a car for our family. ****, I just wished I hadn't bought into the marketing hype as I thought his was the perfect road trip vehicle for our family and all the outdoor stuff we do.

The strange thing is that there were no signs of wear on the way to Colorado and we didn't buy a single thing there so we were loaded identically on the way back. One possibility could be that the OEM tires really let go at the end of their lives but not sure. One other thing that was different on the way back is that it rained almost the whole way. I would have thought the water would have reduced friction but maybe the tires were slipping back and forth more or the AWD system was freaking out. Something certainly changed from our trip out there vs the trip back.
Well just to clear this up the lexus is a very different car in a number of ways including towing and load capacity. That said what tire pressure are you running at.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
"Why would Subaru market this car as a rugged, go anywhere with all of your toys vehicle when it reality, using it for anything other than going to the grocery store will have you buying a new set of tires every year (or 9 months like our situation)? Our other vehicle is an AWD Lexus RX330 and no matter how loaded down it is, the tire wear is phenomenal even when I abuse it using it as a work truck. We have babied the Outback but it's just so fragile. I understand the OEM tires are not great but clearly this vehicle is so under sprung in the rear that it can't handle suitcases and gear for a road trip.
"

This is a issue well known with the factory "lifted" outback style cars since about 2004+
The old ones did not have this geometry issue. Old was better. truth. See, Subaru lifted the cars to get the SUV crowd to buy, and they softened it up to still ride good. But the result is unsafe imo. the Ghostwalk cars started in 05. And contnues across the line of Putback, Impreza Outback, not so much forester.
That's a bummer to hear. If Subaru can't get the geometry right in these fragile cars, what options are there aftermarket? We really only need the AWD 2 months out of the year so in retrospect, I guess we should have bought a 4wd so that we could shift it when needed instead of being stuck with it all year. However, our Lexus AWD is not nearly as effected by load so I didn't think getting an AWD would be such a pain.
 

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Based on the load description your tires were probably under inflated. The dash light doesn’t trigger till about 26,28lbs. Loaded with your paking description 30lbs ish would do exactly what you just described.

Hint its not the car. Tires were too soft for your packed load. And alignment could be off enough that its a higher wear when loaded vs empty.

Oh and My Mercedes alignment from the factory was really messed up all 4 wheels were way off and not even close. So yes it happens. Ask your tire shop who the go to alignment shop is and go do it.

Again its not the car as it being faulty design etc. This happens to all brands with the right combo of conditions.
 

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Based on the load description your tires were probably under inflated. The dash light doesn’t trigger till about 26,28lbs. Loaded with your paking description 30lbs ish would do exactly what you just described.

Hint its not the car. Tires were too soft for your packed load. And alignment could be off enough that its a higher wear when loaded vs empty.

Oh and My Mercedes alignment from the factory was really messed up all 4 wheels were way off and not even close. So yes it happens. Ask your tire shop who the go to alignment shop is and go do it.

Again its not the car as it being faulty design etc. This happens to all brands with the right combo of conditions.
I think subaru tested the Ascent with with 2 sumo wrestlers going out for dinner with their equally sized wives.
(all probably weigh more after dinner).

outcome of the test maybe a need for a central automatic tire inflator, to help with self leveling. this will be a special HD edition to come out in the 2020 year, to be known as the Amurican Fat Ass Edition.
(additional tests of typical 2019 models with real world buyers starting as soon as delivery happens,...and the complaints start).
 
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If I'm not able to do something to the suspension to keep it from throwing off the alignment, would I be better off getting a small light weight trailer (like one of those foldable ones from Harbor Freight) and then loading it in a way that doesn't put much tongue weight on and using that to carry the 200 or so lbs of gear instead of having it in the cargo area? I could probably get some plastic binds instead of suitcases to put our clothes and stuff in, as well as ski boots and other "heavier" items. As soft as the rear suspension must be, I'm not sure I should ever even put 5 adults in the car.

I understand these are not designed to tow trailers but I'm just thinking of a couple hundred pound trailer towing a couple of hundred pounds of gear so that it's not in the cargo area. The bummer is we sold a sedan so that we'd have room in the "station wagon" for carrying gear. If this isn't a case of false advertising by Subaru, then I don't know what is! Ugh!
 

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Based on the load description your tires were probably under inflated. The dash light doesn’t trigger till about 26,28lbs. Loaded with your paking description 30lbs ish would do exactly what you just described.

Hint its not the car. Tires were too soft for your packed load. And alignment could be off enough that its a higher wear when loaded vs empty.

Oh and My Mercedes alignment from the factory was really messed up all 4 wheels were way off and not even close. So yes it happens. Ask your tire shop who the go to alignment shop is and go do it.

Again its not the car as it being faulty design etc. This happens to all brands with the right combo of conditions.
I'll check the tire pressure. I didn't think that would have been the issue given that it had just been serviced at the dealer, the dash lights never came on saying pressure was low, the tires didn't bulge at all indicating they were low and we were driving from 20°-70° temps as we went across the country so if they were at 35 psi in Colorado I would have expected them to rise with the temperature.
 

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If I'm not able to do something to the suspension to keep it from throwing off the alignment, would I be better off getting a small light weight trailer (like one of those foldable ones from Harbor Freight) and then loading it in a way that doesn't put much tongue weight on and using that to carry the 200 or so lbs of gear instead of having it in the cargo area? I could probably get some plastic binds instead of suitcases to put our clothes and stuff in, as well as ski boots and other "heavier" items. As soft as the rear suspension must be, I'm not sure I should ever even put 5 adults in the car.

I understand these are not designed to tow trailers but I'm just thinking of a couple hundred pound trailer towing a couple of hundred pounds of gear so that it's not in the cargo area. The bummer is we sold a sedan so that we'd have room in the "station wagon" for carrying gear. If this isn't a case of false advertising by Subaru, then I don't know what is! Ugh!
Its really not false advertisement at all. As said here its very likely that you did not have enough tire pressure in the tires for the load you were trying to move. That is not subaru fault in the slightest.

That said there are many companies out there they sell higher load rated springs that will accomplish what it is you want to do without having nearly the sag in the suspension that you likely had with the load you had in the car. With the suspension not sagging this also eliminated the alignment being thrown off by the geometry changing based on the suspension sag due to load.

These cars are capable of towing loads but as established in other threads their 200lb tongue weight is very restrictive in what you can safely toe.


Lastly for the love of god please stop comparing this car to full size SUV's. These cars are not full sized SUV's and can not handle the loads like a full size SUV can!
 

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If I'm not able to do something to the suspension to keep it from throwing off the alignment, would I be better off getting a small light weight trailer (like one of those foldable ones from Harbor Freight) and then loading it in a way that doesn't put much tongue weight on and using that to carry the 200 or so lbs of gear instead of having it in the cargo area? I could probably get some plastic binds instead of suitcases to put our clothes and stuff in, as well as ski boots and other "heavier" items. As soft as the rear suspension must be, I'm not sure I should ever even put 5 adults in the car.

I understand these are not designed to tow trailers but I'm just thinking of a couple hundred pound trailer towing a couple of hundred pounds of gear so that it's not in the cargo area. The bummer is we sold a sedan so that we'd have room in the "station wagon" for carrying gear. If this isn't a case of false advertising by Subaru, then I don't know what is! Ugh!
No
I haul heavy junk all week and we tow a trailer quite a bit. My last Subaru needed an alignment about 30,000 miles into ownership after that no till 150,000 due to hitting a crater in the road at 50mph.

My current subaru OB at 100,000 has been fine no alignment needed but one 400 mile 100degree weather camping trip with tires at about 30psi resulted in really fast wear on the rears.

A few times a week I have about 200lbs of tools and property management junk in the car and the kids. Weekends bikes, gear kids dog sometimes trailer etc.

Based on your gear description you just need to make sure alignment is right with a little weight in the back and make sure your tires aren’t 30psi. 34-35psi on the rear tires when packed heavy for a trip makes a big difference over being on the soft side 30-32ish.

The car is fine just need to be sure alignment is ok and tire pressure is good for the heavy trips.
 

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Lastly for the love of god please stop comparing this car to full size SUV's. These cars are not full sized SUV's and can not handle the loads like a full size SUV can!
I knew this wasn't a true SUV but I never thought my Lexus was either so I figured these were a lot closer than comparing my Lexus RX330 to a Toyota Sequoia.
 

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That's a bummer to hear. If Subaru can't get the geometry right in these fragile cars, what options are there aftermarket?

Hahahaa , my belly laugh for today

You should see what us Gen3 folks need to go through ... Sheesh, I have fabricated my own suspension parts and as well as explored the aftermarket.

Basically the car needed to have a more precise alignment and more attention placed on tire pressures. Finally, it's NOT a truck, less weight would help.
 

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No
I haul heavy junk all week and we tow a trailer quite a bit. My last Subaru needed an alignment about 30,000 miles into ownership after that no till 150,000 due to hitting a crater in the road at 50mph.

My current subaru OB at 100,000 has been fine no alignment needed but one 400 mile 100degree weather camping trip with tires at about 30psi resulted in really fast wear on the rears.

A few times a week I have about 200lbs of tools and property management junk in the car and the kids. Weekends bikes, gear kids dog sometimes trailer etc.

Based on your gear description you just need to make sure alignment is right with a little weight in the back and make sure your tires aren’t 30psi. 34-35psi on the rear tires when packed heavy for a trip makes a big difference over being on the soft side 30-32ish.

The car is fine just need to be sure alignment is ok and tire pressure is good for the heavy trips.
That's encouraging to me! I'm hoping the Subaru dealer just set the pressure to low and that was the only issue.

Regarding tires, would going with a light truck tire such as the Michelin Defender LTX (235/55-18) likely wear better than more of a car tire? https://www.discounttiredirect.com/buy-tires/michelin-defender-ltx-m-s/p/11273 I really want to get new tires and alignment done so we can drive it again but want to research and get the right tool for the job that will hold up to this AWD. I called 2 discount tires and they both said the Pirelli Cinturato Strada all season was their recommendation for my situation. They thought it would hold up a lot better than the Michelin even though they both have the same 70,000 tread warranty. https://www.discounttiredirect.com/buy-tires/pirelli-cinturato-strada-all-season/p/26973 The Continental Pure Contact also gets good reviews but I understand tires wear differently on different cars so I'm really wanting to find something proven on the Outback.

I've read a number of tire threads on here where people talk about how well their tires are wearing at 15,000 or even 20,000 but my OEM Duelers looked really good at 19k but I haven't found posts on here where people talk about how good their tires are wearing at 40,000+. They don't have to be the best in snow but keep in mind that 2 months out of the year we are skiing at least 6 days a week.

Thanks for all your help!
 

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The 330 is pretty snug on interior space and built on a tad heavier platform than the OB. Its easy to pack the OB heavy with its space and being a tad soft on tire pressure will net high tire wear on the rears. I don’t trust shops checking tire pressure given they are rarely accurate. Typically way high like 40psi which makes it handle pretty bad. But I’ve had plenty of shops end up on the low side too.

Keep in mind the hitch bike rack hung off the back of the car isn’t the same as a trailer regarding weight. I only run a two bike rack on the back and toss two up top. 4 20+lb bikes hung off a 30-50lb rack plus the trunk loaded up is more or less over the rear load limits of f you pack anything like we do on big trips.
 

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if they were at 35 psi in Colorado I would have expected them to rise with the temperature.
You had the tires rotated at a high altitude and traveled to a lower altitude. That would have a negative affect on your situation. See the link.

If the pressure was correct at 6,000 ft in Colorado it could be 3 PSI lower when you got to KC which is only a few hundred feet above sea level.

https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=167
 
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