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1999 Outback
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought my first Subaru a couple weeks ago, a '99 Legacy Outback. One of the reasons I wanted a Subaru was AWD, because of the snow here in the NW Chicago suburbs.

We got almost a foot of snow over the weekend, so I had a chance to try it out on snowy roads. I was a little disappointed that the rear end tends to slide out if I take slippery turns too fast, or when I accelerate hard on snow. I'm mainly trying to get a feel for now it handles in the snow. Is this normal? It does have 1" oversize snow tires on it, could that make a difference?

Thanks!
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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Tire type?
Size?
Tread remaining?
Age/condition of suspension?

Didn't give us anything to work with here.
 

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1999 Outback
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Snow tires are General Grabber AT2, 215/65R16. Lots of wear left. They're on rims originally from a 2012 Forester, I believe. The previous owner bought them used, and included them when I bought the car. Suspension seems fine to me, but I don't have anything to compare it to. I have repair records going back 5 years, and no record of suspension work, so it could all be original.
 

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You need new tires. get a set of snows and run the miles out of these in the summer time if they're not a safety hazard.

Lots of wear left.
material quality is more important than quantity.

They're on rims originally from a 2012 Forester, I believe. The previous owner bought them used
The tires are too old. they degrade over time particularly depending on how, and the environment in which, they were stored. i've seen florida baked tires with 90% tread be nearly unusable in snow.

you can look at the date stamp on the side wall of the tires - it's a 4 digit code indicating the week and year. so 3415 means they were manufactured the 34th week of 2015.
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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Those are not snow tires.

You have age unknown and tread unspecified off road tires and unknown condition of suspension components. Of course it handles "meh" in the winter conditions.
 

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Fresh Out of Outbacks!
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I bought my first Subaru a couple weeks ago, a '99 Legacy Outback. One of the reasons I wanted a Subaru was AWD, because of the snow here in the NW Chicago suburbs.

We got almost a foot of snow over the weekend, so I had a chance to try it out on snowy roads. I was a little disappointed that the rear end tends to slide out if I take slippery turns too fast, or when I accelerate hard on snow. I'm mainly trying to get a feel for now it handles in the snow. Is this normal? It does have 1" oversize snow tires on it, could that make a difference?
Pushing the edge of the envelope is inevitably going to cross the line from desired result to undesired result if you are thorough about your tests.

If you want something that rides like it is on rails in any weather, get yourself a train, or at least a ticket on somebody else's.

But yeah, what they said about tires & suspension. Off-road tires may have great tread, and that helps- but they're made from harder rubber to prevent excessive wear in the warm season. True snow tires are made from very soft compounds that stay pliable in the cold, but wear down very quickly in warm weather.
 

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1999 Outback
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone! Yes, these are not snow tires as I was told, I should have checked them myself. No snowflake/mountain symbol. Date code is 1213, so they're almost 5 years old. I also have the original rims, which have Hankook Optimo H724 tires, correct size of 205/70R15, date code 0217, 8/32 tread left. So I'll switch to those before next winter if not sooner, or get real snow tires then.

Thanks again for all the help!
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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Thanks everyone! Yes, these are not snow tires as I was told, I should have checked them myself. No snowflake/mountain symbol. Date code is 1213, so they're almost 5 years old. I also have the original rims, which have Hankook Optimo H724 tires, correct size of 205/70R15, date code 0217, 8/32 tread left. So I'll switch to those before next winter if not sooner, or get real snow tires then.

Thanks again for all the help!
best tire sales are in November. (April also, but November is better).

if you want something great that lasts a long time: studded snow tires. (lasts longer then sticky ice tires that lose their stick after 2 seasons).

I run cooper studded and can rotate them in a X.
almost all other snow tires are V treads and can only be rotated front to back when on their own rims.
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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I run cooper studded and can rotate them in a X.
almost all other snow tires are V treads and can only be rotated front to back when on their own rims.
One 'trick' to remember is that you can have the tires flipped on the rim so that they will rotate the same direction when mounted on the other side of the car.
 

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...I was a little disappointed that the rear end tends to slide out if I take slippery turns too fast, or when I accelerate hard on snow. I'm mainly trying to get a feel for now it handles in the snow. Is this normal? ...

Thanks!
Quick question...

Was your intent to try to break the rear end loose or just see what the limits of your current car/tire setup are?

In my experience, smooth and easy works best in snow and ice regardless of the tire, but dedicated snows are the best choice for extreme conditions.

Enjoy your car and be safe.


Cheers!
 

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One 'trick' to remember is that you can have the tires flipped on the rim so that they will rotate the same direction when mounted on the other side of the car.
sounds great if you got free or ultra cheap access to tire machines.

but one of the goals to having them on their own rims is to never have to pay to mount/ dismount until you are ready to toss the tires into the recycling bin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quick question...

Was your intent to try to break the rear end loose or just see what the limits of your current car/tire setup are?

In my experience, smooth and easy works best in snow and ice regardless of the tire, but dedicated snows are the best choice for extreme conditions.

Enjoy your car and be safe.


Cheers!
Not at all. The first time it happened my son was driving, and it was a bit scary. Fortunately he turned the steering wheel the right direction to stop the skid. Since then I've pushed the car when it was safe to do so to understand how it reacts in the snow. And I'm taking slippery turns slower now.
 

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Meh.
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I had Kaylee (2003 Outback running the now d/c Michelin Primacy MXV4 all-season tires) in Chicago for about 6 years. Other than the blizzard of 2011, where she was buried up over the hood in a snow drift, I managed getting around carefully in winter.

AWD does not mean all wheel stop or all wheel turn and this is important to remember even with snow tires. If I had not been in student housing with the corresponding lack of storage space I would have had a set of snow tires and been much more relaxed during winter.

Decent all seasons and common sense/skill will put you above many...you just have to watch for them hitting you. Good snow tires will make your life nice, but still watch out for idiots and physics. I seem to recall studs aren't legal up there, but I'd say General Altimax Artics are a good bang for the buck snow tires for a nearly 20 year old car, even unstudded. There are better options, but cost can be a concern for an old car.
 
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I put General Snow tires on my 96 outback and its an unstoppable tank!!!! I have driven through some pretty crazy snow storms in the Denver area this season and I am always pleasantly shocked how well the mechanical AWD systems works. The ass will slide out a tiny bit if I push it, but it comes right back into place and just keeps pulling. I find having a 5 speed gives me better control of things, but the snow tires are key!

I picked up a set of Legacy 16" rims for my summer tires on CL for $100 and use a set of 96 Outback 15" rims that came with it for the winter tires. You can find them on CL for usually under 100 bucks for the rims. Totally worth the investment, especially if this is gonna be your winter beater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I put General Snow tires on my 96 outback and its an unstoppable tank!!!! I have driven through some pretty crazy snow storms in the Denver area this season and I am always pleasantly shocked how well the mechanical AWD systems works. The ass will slide out a tiny bit if I push it, but it comes right back into place and just keeps pulling. I find having a 5 speed gives me better control of things, but the snow tires are key!

I picked up a set of Legacy 16" rims for my summer tires on CL for $100 and use a set of 96 Outback 15" rims that came with it for the winter tires. You can find them on CL for usually under 100 bucks for the rims. Totally worth the investment, especially if this is gonna be your winter beater.
Totally agree! I was amazed how much better my old 2000 Caravan and now my 2012 Prius v do in the snow with good snow tires. We drove our Caravan through a blizzard going over Wilkerson Pass on our way from CO Springs to Monarch a few years ago, and it pulled great without sliding.

I already have some 16" 2013 Forester rims, so my plan next winter is to move my Prius v snow tires (oversize for the Prius, but right size for the Outback) to the Forester rims, and get new correctly-sized snow tires for the Prius. I'm looking forward to driving the Outback with snow tires!

I wish my Outback was a 5-speed instead of automatic, but I'm the only one of four drivers in my family that drives stick.
 

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best tire sales are in November. (April also, but November is better).

if you want something great that lasts a long time: studded snow tires. (lasts longer then sticky ice tires that lose their stick after 2 seasons).

I run cooper studded and can rotate them in a X.
almost all other snow tires are V treads and can only be rotated front to back when on their own rims.
1, Studded tires are illegal in Wisconsin any time of the year. Chicago might have similar laws. 2, I'm going to challenge that a set of studs on their 2nd or 3rd year out perform the latest winter compounds found in x-ice or blizzack. Yes, studs will be great on year 1.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
1, Studded tires are illegal in Wisconsin any time of the year. Chicago might have similar laws. 2, I'm going to challenge that a set of studs on their 2nd or 3rd year out perform the latest winter compounds found in x-ice or blizzack. Yes, studs will be great on year 1.
Studs illegal here in Illinois as well, unfortunately.
 

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Also .. I don't know if this is the case on the 99's, but later generation Subaru's had different initial torque splits based on whether it was a manual (50/50) or automatic (90/10). '

Our 2005 MB XT MT drove like a RWD in the snow until we threw away the crappy Bridgestones Subaru had on it. It completely befuddles me why Subaru would advertise the vehicle as being "all weather capable" and then cheap out on such crappy tires.
 

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No snowflake/mountain symbol. Date code is 1213, so they're almost 5 years old.
Good job looking. Now you confirmed what I already guessed, you need new tires.
There's also no telling how, or in what kind of conditions, they were stored. Tire materials age quickly relatively speaking and will age worse in some conditions than others.
 
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