My dealership says the 2005 Outback doesn't need chains. The CHP has been known to stop even full-size 4WDs and make them put on the chains in the mountains. I'm planning a trip to ski country. Any advice?
When the CHP is stopping 4WDs with M+S tires and requiring they put on chains, the smart thing to do is turn around and go back down the mountain. Nobody should drive in that crap. Just sayin'.
Now, if you want to get some winter only tires, and a dedicated set of wheels, that is money well invested, if you drive in snow/on ice much. AWD and winter tires = safe as it gets, when it is truly ugly.
I have gone up into the local mountains (when they are stopping for chains) and up in to the sierras during the same A LOT over the past 15 years (10 with my OB)
I have never been forced to put chains on except one random time in the sierras. I carry them just in case. I would get them and carry them just in case. Certainly the road patrols will have more authority to keep you from your destination than your dealer.
Get chains just in case - or risk getting sent back down - or paying an arm and a leg for local chains where you get stopped.