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Discussion Starter #1
I drive a 2016 Outback 2.5i since June 2016 (Canadian model). So this is my second winter with it, I live in Quebec. Last year for winter, I bought 4 brand news Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 (studless). I drive at least 26000 km/year (~16 000 miles) and around 10 000 km to 12 000 km on my winter tires.

Since this fall, I'm having issues with the traction. When I drive on roads with little ice and/or snow, I feel like the car is always slipping. I'm always fighting with the steering wheel just to keep it straight. By fighting I'm not saying I'm drifting on the road like Ken Block, but simply continuously correcting the direction by couple of degrees left and right. And obviously when I take a curve, I feel like I'm losing the rear part of the car. It happens all the time but the fighting is mostly when I drive above 80 km/h (~50 mph).

Also, when I drive around 45 km/h (30 mph), I hear a strange noise (vibrating noise) coming from one (or both) wheels on the left side. I first noticed this noise around the same time I noticed the traction problem. Pretty sure it's related but I'm no mechanic...

No issues if I'm on dry roads or very deep snow. Never felt this before, last winter the car was acting as expected without traction's issues with the same tires. And obviously, the tires are not the problem here since, like I said, last year everything was fine and 10k to 12k km on those tires won't go through them. Nokian are built to last and I double check just in case and they are more than ok.

I'm going to the dealer in two days, anybody has an idea of what I should tell them to look at? Those tricky issues are always a pain to find, especially once at the dealership... I don't want to have to negotiate with them to get it fix nor having to go back more than once.

Thanks for your help!
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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Check alignment. Check for missing wheel weights. Inspect suspension components, might have a worn or loose bushing giving more play than it should have.
 

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2015 Outback 2.5i Limited Tungsten Metallic
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Some ideas on Traction issues

Your positive experience last winter suggests this isn't a tire issue, but I was less than impressed with the Nokian Hakkas I bought for my previous vehicle. They were great in deep snow and okay on bare pavement, but disappointing in slippery conditions like packed snow or icy roads. Went with Blizzaks on my 2015 OB and they've been great in all conditions.

Your second, speed-related issue reminds me of a situation I had last winter after a heavy snow. I was getting a strong shudder at speeds over 60kph, and I wondered if I had done something to the alignment after driving a lot during a big storm with 35+ cm on the ground. I took it to my dealer and they put it on a hoist and flushed out all the snow packed inside and around the steel rims. Problem solved -- apparently common with those steel rims. (bonus -- no charge - best dealer I have ever dealt with).
I've noticed the shudder again since our big snowfall around Christmas Day (I am in Kingston ON), and have been meaning to take it through a car wash to achieve the same result, but it's been too cold to do this. I am told I long handled wooden spoon can get rid of some of the build-up.

Not sure this post will be of much help, but maybe to others reading later.
... Jim
 

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Silicon spray on the clean inside surfaces of the aluminum wheels will help shed snow vs having it stick and throw things out of balance.

Nothing is more difficult to predict than polished Ice vs vehicles ability to run over it without some kind of sliding.

Tire tread and how its worn can cause a tire to pull one way or another especially where traction is near zero and even a small amount of directional impact by tread design and or wear can have a car doing the crab thing down the street even if allignment is fine. The easiest fix if your always on icy snowy roads is just to to studded tires, but even those can ride funny and have the car doing the crab thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Indeed the snow inside the rim could have been the issue. But my car sleeps in my heated garage everyday so that's not my issue.

I also suspected an alignment problem, but usually, I feel a car needs alignments before everybody else and before it's an issue. Car drives straight on clean road but it could still be it.

Suspension could make a lot of sense. I'll tell them to look that way. Same for the missing weight.

The silicon spray is an awesome idea! Never thought about it but will definitely try it this winter. Thanks for the cue.

Thanks for all your replies. I hope I'll have the answer later today during my appointment at the dealership. I'll keep you posted guys
 

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Indeed the snow inside the rim could have been the issue. But my car sleeps in my heated garage everyday so that's not my issue.

I also suspected an alignment problem, but usually, I feel a car needs alignments before everybody else and before it's an issue. Car drives straight on clean road but it could still be it.

Suspension could make a lot of sense. I'll tell them to look that way. Same for the missing weight.

The silicon spray is an awesome idea! Never thought about it but will definitely try it this winter. Thanks for the cue.

Thanks for all your replies. I hope I'll have the answer later today during my appointment at the dealership. I'll keep you posted guys
Your heated garage also makes the brakes rust faster (along with the rest of the car), so I'd check the pads and callipers for uneven wear. The traction control system is a very brake dependent system.
 

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2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited w/Eyesight
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Following, as I have the same issue with my '16 Outback, Hakka 8 SUV tires and living in Quebec too!
This car if my 1st with Nokian tires and I will probably never buy Nokian in the future. Worst experience ever.

My 2 other vehicles have Michelin Xice, and Bridgestone Blizzaks which I'm feeling confident with.
 

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2015 Outback 2.5i, purchased new Oct 2014
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Botched headline aside, check tip #5.

Yeah, I'll park the Subie at any hint of snot - I mean snow.

 

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2015 Outback 3.6R Package 23
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Hmmm..... I have a ton of snow miles on the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 with my Outback. I have no issues at all.

I'm wondering if they're mounted backwards? They're a directional tire. I'd bet they are really funky if they're rotating the wrong direction.
 

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Just got 2 feet of snow yesterday and I drive a 2015 2.5 limited. I drove right out off driveway without a problem. This car with stock tires will go through any snow I have had. I drove 4x4 f150 most of my life and this is better in snow that those trucks. Get to a dealer and have them test drive. Something is wrong. Good lucks. Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok so here's the result.

Short story: the car needed wheel alignment. Strange noise was due to my exhaust barely touching my hitch.

Long story:

First visit at the dealership last Thursday didn't solve the traction issue. They checked everything they could (tires, suspension, etc) but didn't find anything wrong. They wanted to check the alignment but it was Christmas time and nobody in the shop was able to do it. But at least they found that my exhaust was barely touching my hitch which was causing the strange noise.

So went back yesterday but to another dealership (was out of town during vacation), they also thought about alignment, tried it and found that indeed alignment was needed. Tried the car once fixed and traction issue is gone. It was one of my rear wheels causing the main issue. It explains why the issue was happening only when the road was partially icy or snowy, not on bare or fully snow covered road.

Hope it helps somebody else having the same issue in future!
Thanks everyone for your help!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Following, as I have the same issue with my '16 Outback, Hakka 8 SUV tires and living in Quebec too!
This car if my 1st with Nokian tires and I will probably never buy Nokian in the future. Worst experience ever.

My 2 other vehicles have Michelin Xice, and Bridgestone Blizzaks which I'm feeling confident with.
Both Michelin Xice and Bridgestone Blizzak are great tires. Michelin is the best one on ice, Blizzak are good all around tires, Nokian are indeed very good in deep snow condition but very similar to the Blizzak.

I went with Nokian for many reasons. First, the warranty if you blow up a tire and need replacement (this happened to me last summer and had to change all 4 tires, cost me a lot of unexpected money). Second, better longevity than the 2 others. Third, it's a good all around tire and better fits my need.

But next time, I'm considering studded tires for better control on icy roads. I like the brand new HAKKAPELIITTA 9 double stud grip. We'll see next winter when I most probably needs new tires.
 

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2016 Outback 2.5i Touring 6MT, 2014 GSW TDI 6MT
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The 4x4 isn't the be all and end all for winter driving, in fact it's quite the opposite. A 4x4 is just 2 more wheels driving you towards the ditch once you start to slide. I live in the mountains and I see more 4x4's in the ditch than anything else.

Botched headline aside, check tip #5.

Yeah, I'll park the Subie at any hint of snot - I mean snow.

 

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2017 2.5i Premium Lapis Blue
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Hmmm..... I have a ton of snow miles on the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 with my Outback. I have no issues at all.

I'm wondering if they're mounted backwards? They're a directional tire. I'd bet they are really funky if they're rotating the wrong direction.
I recently rotated the Winterforce tires that were on my GMC truck when I bought it and had no idea they were directional tires until I was putting one of them on and noticed it didn't look right. I was on the third tire but fortunately the first two were moving the rears to the front on the same side so I didn't have to redo them. I did wonder at the time how much handling might have been affected with the tread on the rear tires turning in the wrong direction if I hadn't noticed.
 
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