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Discussion Starter #1
Any recommendations for decent, cheap snow chains for the 2010 OB? We'll be taking trips up to the Lake Tahoe region this winter, and while I don't expect to be driving in any conditions when chains are required, even on 4WD/AWD vehicles (i.e., R3), (I would rather just pull over and wait it out than try to drive through those conditions), I believe all vehicles must carry chains while traveling through that region.
 

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2011 Outback 3.6R Limited--Sky Blue Metallic
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Before you start shopping, I would suggest that you check the Owner's Manual in regard to this topic.

Some vehicles have insufficient clearance for tire chains, and the new Outback could be one of them. If tire chains are mentioned in the manual as not being recommended, any mechanical damage that results from their use would not be covered under the Powertrain Warranty.
 

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2010 Outback 3.6R
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absolutsnwbrdr said:
check out Z-Chain or the Super Z6 (of which neither are actually chains)

http://www.scc-chain.com/Traction%20Pages/Trac_prod_choice.html


They won't give you any clearance problems, but you'll need 2 pair - for front and rear.
Thanks for the link - these look pretty nice. (I'm not the original poster, but will have the same need for carrying chains when driving up to Tahoe. They have two levels of chain-control near the Tahoe summits - a lower-level where chains are required on 2WD cars, but not on 4WD or AWD cars, and then a higher level where chains are required on all vehicles.)

The 2010 Outback owners manual just says to not use chains, due to the lack of clearance. But I remember seeing a recommendation somewhere (on this forum?) that if chains are needed, to use some form of cable chains, and not link chains, due to limited clearance. Although it certainly makes logical sense to use chains on both axles, I seem to think the post or article that I read just talked about one axle. But now I can't recall whether it recommended them for the front or rear.... I THINK it said to put them on the front.

(It also had just a single recommendation, that didn't take into account the differences in the AWD system for the CVT, manual, and 5AT transmissions. I would think that chains on the front would make the most sense for the CVT, but that my car (a 3.6R with 5AT), with it's normal 45/55 torque split, might benefit more from rear chains.
 

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2004 outback VDC wagon H6
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What kind of tires do you have? If you have snow tires you should never need to install chains. The roads will close before it's AWD w/snow tires and chains. I've been in Truckee for 13 years. Don't think I've put chains on for about 8 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
garydahl said:
What kind of tires do you have? If you have snow tires you should never need to install chains. The roads will close before it's AWD w/snow tires and chains. I've been in Truckee for 13 years. Don't think I've put chains on for about 8 years.
I'm the OP and I have the standard OEM Continentals, all-season M+S, so no, they are not snow tires. Still, it is my understanding that you are required to carry chains, even if you never have to install them. Of course, I've never actually witnessed anyone checking for them at the checkpoints...
 

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Outback 3.0R w/HID and Teardrop
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newbs said:


I'm the OP and I have the standard OEM Continentals, all-season M+S, so no, they are not snow tires. Still, it is my understanding that you are required to carry chains, even if you never have to install them. Of course, I've never actually witnessed anyone checking for them at the checkpoints...
They may not be dedicated snow tires, but if they have M+S on the sidewall, then they are rated for Mud and Snow.

I'm going to be picking up 2 pairs of the Super Z6's just for piece of mind. I really don't intend on driving anywhere that I will be required to have them, but if I go snowboarding somewhere and a snow storm comes through, I will have the extra assurance.
 

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2010 OB 2.5i Limited, Azurite Blue
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I know on 4wd trucks you chain the front wheels if you only have one set of chains. I would assume the same holds true for the AWD systems?

I remember the old chain up areas on 80 as you leave Auburn, and remember using them to put chains on our old RWD cars. At one time they didn't have checkpoints and made you have chains before going any further. Maybe now they just close 80 instead of requiring chains.
 

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2017 OB Limited - Ice Silver
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I have 2 pair of the z-chains (cables), have not used them since I bought them 3 years ago. I am always in Tahoe during the winter. Last February, I was in snow up to the bottom of my doors going form South Shore to Kirkwood, CHP asked if I had chains at the check point, and that was about it. My Subi ran through the snow with no problems at all.
 

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2010 Outback
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Check out Spike Spyders. They're on the web. We used them on our Honda Odyssey for years. A little pricey, but very low profile and easy to get on and off.
At the beginning of the season, remove the tire lugs and bolt on an interface plate that has a cover. The traction devices look like a huge spider made of polycarbonate with steel studs in them. The traction devices are slipped onto the plate that is bolted to the wheel. Developed in Switzerland.

The alternative is probably cables rather than chains, which is what we will probably get just to comply with rule about carrying chains. I agree that if the conditions get so awful on Donner Pass that even 4WD vehicles must chain up, better just pull off and get a room in Truckee.

We're in Fairfield. Cross-country at Royal Gorge and downhill at Alpine Meadows. That's why we replaced the Honda with the Outback.
 

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2010 Outback 3.6R
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I am shopping for some cable chains for my 2010 OB (probably going to get the SCC Super Z-6, which seem to have the lowest clearance requirement), and in the process of nosing around found the CA DOT chain rules, from http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/wntrdriv.htm.

There are actually three severity levels for the chain law, as shown below.

Chain Requirements:

R1: Chains, traction devices or snow tires are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles.
R2: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels.
(NOTE: Four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
R3: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

My old Ford Expedition had all-terrain tires with deep tread, which I (in my own mind, anyway) viewed as allowing me to not use chains for either R1 or R2. But with the OEM tires on the Outback, I think it would require chains at R2 or R3.

MOST of the time the chain law is in effect on I-80 or US 50, heading up to Tahoe, it is just at the R1 level. But in the middle of a blizzard they will sometimes go to R2 or R3.

There are more detailed requirements covering multi-axle vehicles, trailers, etc.

The above rules don't really address whether AWD or 4WD vehicles require chains on all four wheels, or just two. (Obviously all four wheels is preferred.)

In re-looking at the owner's manual, it (rather unhelpfully) just says not to use chains, due to limited clearance. My guess would be that if I only buy one set of chains, for very occasional use, it would be best to mount them on the front wheels. This would seem to make sense for the 2.5i with CVT, where I think the AWD system is normally delivering most of the torque to the front. But with my 3.6R, the AWD system is normally delivering 45% to the front, and 55% to the rear. But I still think I will be better off with chains on the front. Does that match with others' thinking?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Bobaru said:

My old Ford Expedition had all-terrain tires with deep tread, which I (in my own mind, anyway) viewed as allowing me to not use chains for either R1 or R2. But with the OEM tires on the Outback, I think it would require chains at R2 or R3.

MOST of the time the chain law is in effect on I-80 or US 50, heading up to Tahoe, it is just at the R1 level. But in the middle of a blizzard they will sometimes go to R2 or R3.
Yes, I believe that is correct about the OEM tires, which are just the all-season M+S tires, not the snow tires at R2. I also believe you are correct in that most of the time for I-80/US-50 the chain control is only at an R1 level. If the storm is severe enough to warrant R2 or R3, I think they are more likely to just close the route until the storm eases and plows can get through.


In re-looking at the owner's manual, it (rather unhelpfully) just says not to use chains, due to limited clearance. My guess would be that if I only buy one set of chains, for very occasional use, it would be best to mount them on the front wheels. This would seem to make sense for the 2.5i with CVT, where I think the AWD system is normally delivering most of the torque to the front. But with my 3.6R, the AWD system is normally delivering 45% to the front, and 55% to the rear. But I still think I will be better off with chains on the front. Does that match with others' thinking?
That's my thinking too. If you are only chaining 2 wheels, they should probably go in front. I want the extra traction on the steering wheels. Presumably, if the AWD system is working, even if power is normally delivered to the rear wheels, if the front has better traction the system show adjust the power so more of it goes up front anyway, right?
 

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I don't know which way is the truly correct one, if there is one at all, but the theory I've heard is that you put the chains on the rear wheels.

The reasoning being, that if you want to stop you won't go into a spin, whereas if the front stops but the back doesn't have chains, it will keep on going and put you into a spin.
 

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It is rather odd that for a AWD vehicle Subaru restricts the use of chains. I purchased a set of the SCC Super Z6 series cable chains, as they exceed the "Class S" requirement, and plan on only using them on the front wheels. The chains will grip better because of the extra weight of the engine over the front wheels.

Quote directly from my 2006 OBW owners manual:

"Driving on snowy grades or icy roads may require the use of tire chains, in which case put the chains on the front wheels only. Use only SAE class S type chains that are of the correct size for your tires so as not to damage the vehicle body or suspension."
 

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2010 Premium Outback
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I also plan on going up to Tahoe a lot this winter. I just purchased the Super Z-6 (need to try them on before going up with them still).

I was at the dealer for an oil change last week and asked the service department about chain requirements. She said they're probably not needed, but since they're required I should have them, and if needed, to put them on the front tires.
 

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2018 Outback 3.6R Limited
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cali said:
I also plan on going up to Tahoe a lot this winter. I just purchased the Super Z-6 (need to try them on before going up with them still).

I was at the dealer for an oil change last week and asked the service department about chain requirements. She said they're probably not needed, but since they're required I should have them, and if needed, to put them on the front tires.
Just checking to see if you (or anyone else) installed or used these yet, since we did get snow over the holiday here in California. This is of particular concern for me because, if I understand correctly, up in Big Bear they require chains to actually be on, and not just carried, whenever there is snow on the roads, otherwise you're turned away.
 

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I just got the Super Z-6s, size SZ139 for the 2010 OB.

I had trouble getting the first set on the drivers side front wheel but was able to get them on. The passenger side went easier, but that could be because it was my 2nd wheel.

didn't drive them, but they fit.
 

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chains for R3 conditions

I had to put on chains on my 1999 Outback en route to Tahoe a couple of years ago due to R3 conditions. I used Konig European chains that were very easy to install and remove.

The 2010 Outback can't use the Konig chains, so I got the SCC Z6 SZ139's. I did a practice installation today--they're a pain to install! I found the front links hard to hook up. I had to use a lever to hook the last of 6 tensioner hooks. Installation will be no fun in the snow! For chain removal in real-life conditions, you can expect to get very dirty reaching back to unhook the link behind the wheel.

I think the Z6 will be good for the chain installer business.
 

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Just bought two pairs of the SCC Super Z6. Awesome chain. Called Subaru about trying to find out actual clearances. Well, they spoke with the design team and....nothing!
Subaru did recommend for me to use cables vs. chains. E-mailed SCC about the subaru and here was their response:

I would recommend the Super Z6 for low clearance vehicles like yours because this chain was designed with low clearance vehicles in mind where as the Z-Chain was not and it probably not fit into the tight spot that you have on your Subaru. You can find more information on these chains or any of our product by going to our website and clicking on either "SCC Traction Product Choices or Traction Product Comparison".

Thank you
SCC
 
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