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I have a 2010 Outback and live in San Diego and have only driven in snow once.

I have Super z6 chains. Just before ThanksGiving I was at Sequoia National park and was lucky enough to experience a few inches of snow. Signs read “Chains Required” but based on posts I read on this board, I didn’t put them on. The Outback ran fine in snow up to 4 to 6 inches. I tested braking on an icy road and found the pedal chattered or felt bumpy, I presume this was an anti-slide brake feature kicking in.

I’m going to Mammoth soon to learn to snowboard. I was wondering if I could get any advice on what to look for to indicate that I should put on the chains. The tires are the standard Continentals that come with the car.

Thanks,
Larry
 

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I have a 2010 Outback and live in San Diego and have only driven in snow once.

I have Super z6 chains. Just before ThanksGiving I was at Sequoia National park and was lucky enough to experience a few inches of snow. Signs read “Chains Required” but based on posts I read on this board, I didn’t put them on. The Outback ran fine in snow up to 4 to 6 inches. I tested braking on an icy road and found the pedal chattered or felt bumpy, I presume this was an anti-slide brake feature kicking in.

I’m going to Mammoth soon to learn to snowboard. I was wondering if I could get any advice on what to look for to indicate that I should put on the chains. The tires are the standard Continentals that come with the car.

Thanks,
Larry
As a NorCal driver there should be a law that states any water like substance on the road surface all Socal drivers are required to stay home. LOL

On a serious note you will NEVER! Use chains on your subaru in CA! Except if you find your self up at Big Bear stuck in the driveway at the cabin with ice covering the climb up to the street. The chains might give you enough bite to climb up to the road but you will attempt without chains long before tossing the chains on.

Tire condition regardless of chains is a big factor bald tires are bald tires regardless of how you cut it and chains will not cure traction issues caused by bald tires.

As for when you put chains on the subaru - you do not put chains on the subaru. LOL When you drive over the pass and you see a chain control stop they wave you through some areas the chain monkeys actually have a Subaru specific wave sort of like a secret handshake. Welcome to the fantastic world of Subaru AWD - you will never use them or need them in CA.

If you ever as in EVER find you need them they only go on the Front tires and yes they can heavily damage your car if not used right. So #1 Rule NEVER use Chains on your subaru!
 

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Typically "Chains Required" signs are for commercial trucks, not passenger cars, so they are not really required.

My personal opinion are that chains are a great thing to have stashed away in a compartment, but will probably rust before you use them. They might be usefull in a foot+ of snow, in which case you should probably stay home.

I have driven around in snow between an inch and 3 feet in vehicles ranging from front, rear and 4x4. The only people I see driving around with chains on a passenger car are tourists from Florida. The only time you might use your chains would be for a short emergency situation and you are going to attempt it without chains several times before you discover the joy of trying to put a set of chains on.
 

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If you find yourself in snow more often, you might consider a set of snow tires on a spare set of rims. The difference between snow tires and all-seasons is night and day! I used to drive a RWD car that couldn't MOVE in an inch of snow, but would go up and down the road like a 4x4 with snow tires on it.

Most people think there is a subtle difference, or that all-seasons are a replacement for snow tires. Not so!
 

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Greeting from the Great White North ! I'm guessing your Subaru is AWD. In that case, good winter/snow tires make chains unnecessary. However, if you prefer keeping your regular tires on, chains can only be used under 30 mph or so. Refer to (chain) documentation for exact specs. I'd be concerned about putting on 2 chains on an AWD vehicle. 4 chains seems the better choice. Your 2010 Suby owners manual might have a section on chains...

And advanced (snow) driving school is also a great learning experience - and quite a blast !
 

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chains are helpful if you've got bad tires. not all new tires are good in the snow. all seasons are a compromise and are low grade snow traction compared to a sweet set of Nokian Happ's or studded snows. night and day difference, i'll always have snow tires if i can as long as i live where i do now.

your current tires are good in the snow, that is not the case of every all-season tire.

if you want great snow traction, dedicated snow tires or studded snows are a huge upgrade over all-seasons. that also allows you to get some dedicated rims for the winter which saves your other wheels from the elements that degrade alloy wheels....unless that only happens in the rust belt out here! LOL
 

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Socal driver with dedicated snow tires is a laughing stock you guys. The stock All seasons are fine and even in the worst storms he will not be putting chains on IF the road is open to start with.

Just drive smart know that regardless of AWD or fancy tires your braking distance is very different on slick snow stuff - slow it down - and open up some space between you and the guy infront of you! Have fun!
 

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Maybe in Cali the 'chains required' doesn't get imposed on passenger vehicles much, but in Oregon they'll tell you to put them on or turn around if they have posted as such. The law doesn't really stipulate that, but have fun arguing with a cold cop on that duty assignment. Luckily, those impositions are actually pretty rare. If its any less than truly ugly, good tires in place and AWD will probably get you the wave by - but you are STILL required to be in possession of chains in case they decide you MUST have them on anyway.
 

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Maybe in Cali the 'chains required' doesn't get imposed on passenger vehicles much, but in Oregon they'll tell you to put them on or turn around if they have posted as such. The law doesn't really stipulate that, but have fun arguing with a cold cop on that duty assignment. Luckily, those impositions are actually pretty rare. If its any less than truly ugly, good tires in place and AWD will probably get you the wave by - but you are STILL required to be in possession of chains in case they decide you MUST have them on anyway.
Same in CA - yes chain controls apply to all vehicles however vehicles with proper AWD and acceptable tires will get waved through 99.9% of the time. The only thing I've seen that has resulted in a AWD vehicle get stopped and have chains put on are summer tires or bald tires. And yes the guys watching do look at tire tread.

Like I said you will NEVER EVER use chains on your subaru in CA period. If you do it will be such a rare and special case that it doesn't involve driving on open public roads.
 

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chains ok on all four

As for when you put chains on the subaru - you do not put chains on the subaru. LOL When you drive over the pass and you see a chain control stop they wave you through some areas the chain monkeys actually have a Subaru specific wave sort of like a secret handshake. Welcome to the fantastic world of Subaru AWD - you will never use them or need them in CA.

If you ever as in EVER find you need them they only go on the Front tires and yes they can heavily damage your car if not used right. So #1 Rule NEVER use Chains on your subaru![/QUOTE]

I call bs on no chains...!

I have used them on all four with zero problems...
I recommend cheap cable type chains.

It will not affect your awd..I've driven in some nasty icy conditions..
Unless you can afford some nokian hakkapelettias (best snow tire in the world).

I've found if you pull the abs fuse in snow/ice conditions your braking is much better...Abs is great for wet/dry pavement only....!

Best trick is to air down your tires about 10 lbs. and chain up and air back upthey will be nice and tight..(midwest trick)
 

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As for when you put chains on the subaru - you do not put chains on the subaru. LOL When you drive over the pass and you see a chain control stop they wave you through some areas the chain monkeys actually have a Subaru specific wave sort of like a secret handshake. Welcome to the fantastic world of Subaru AWD - you will never use them or need them in CA.

If you ever as in EVER find you need them they only go on the Front tires and yes they can heavily damage your car if not used right. So #1 Rule NEVER use Chains on your subaru!
I call bs on no chains...!

I have used them on all four with zero problems...
I recommend cheap cable type chains.

It will not affect your awd..I've driven in some nasty icy conditions..
Unless you can afford some nokian hakkapelettias (best snow tire in the world).

I've found if you pull the abs fuse in snow/ice conditions your braking is much better...Abs is great for wet/dry pavement only....!

Best trick is to air down your tires about 10 lbs. and chain up and air back upthey will be nice and tight..(midwest trick)[/QUOTE]


I've used chains on all 4 too NEVER EVER on a open public road nor have we ever needed to use them on a public road thats open to traffic. Like I said in CA you will never use your chains on a public road especially when going to a major ski resort!

And yes chaining all 4 with the full time AWD system poses a mechanical issue given the type of traction all 4 wheels create can stress the AWD system given nothing but the most extreme traction issues would ever demand this type of need and even then the wheels would break traction long before stressing the drive system. Key word would be EXTREME conditions which also translates to closed public road.
 

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I call bs on no chains...!

I have used them on all four with zero problems...
I recommend cheap cable type chains.

It will not affect your awd..I've driven in some nasty icy conditions..
Unless you can afford some nokian hakkapelettias (best snow tire in the world).

I've found if you pull the abs fuse in snow/ice conditions your braking is much better...Abs is great for wet/dry pavement only....!

Best trick is to air down your tires about 10 lbs. and chain up and air back upthey will be nice and tight..(midwest trick)

I've used chains on all 4 too NEVER EVER on a open public road nor have we ever needed to use them on a public road thats open to traffic. Like I said in CA you will never use your chains on a public road especially when going to a major ski resort!

And yes chaining all 4 with the full time AWD system poses a mechanical issue given the type of traction all 4 wheels create can stress the AWD system given nothing but the most extreme traction issues would ever demand this type of need and even then the wheels would break traction long before stressing the drive system. Key word would be EXTREME conditions which also translates to closed public road.[/QUOTE]

Have you never driven on a snowpacked sheet of ice..? I have a few times on open public roads and it was manditory or you get ticketed..!
Extreme conditons does not translate to a closed public road..!

Show me proof of any subaru that has had chains on all four that ever damaged a transmission or differential...!

Most of the time your going so slow ..and even if you did spin a tire nothing much would happen..Subarus are bombproof..! Now if your pulling out an F250 4x4 Which I have...I would not recommend it..Given the ring and pinion is so small...thats about the most extreme stress your gonna get..I've pulled 29 rigs out with my '03 outback and most of them trucks, suvs much heavier than mine.

Here's an article from last year to give you an idea of the mountain chaos going to major ski resorts..
Things like weather and crowds are unpredictable...

http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-valley-closed,0,603752.story
 

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I have a 2010 Outback and live in San Diego and have only driven in snow once.

I have Super z6 chains. Just before ThanksGiving I was at Sequoia National park and was lucky enough to experience a few inches of snow. Signs read “Chains Required” but based on posts I read on this board, I didn’t put them on. The Outback ran fine in snow up to 4 to 6 inches. I tested braking on an icy road and found the pedal chattered or felt bumpy, I presume this was an anti-slide brake feature kicking in.

I’m going to Mammoth soon to learn to snowboard. I was wondering if I could get any advice on what to look for to indicate that I should put on the chains. The tires are the standard Continentals that come with the car.

Thanks,
Larry
Larry,

In California you will be legal with M+S tires on your AWD vehicle. The stock Continentals are M+S (stamped on the sidewall of the tire). You must carry chains or traction devices, but you will probably never use them.

This is from the Caltrans website:
"Although Caltrans does not post signs with these designations nor use them to announce chain controls to the public, they are used internally within Caltrans and the CHP as a kind of shorthand to describe chain restrictions and may be included in traffic reports disseminated by various news outlets.

There are three primary categories of chain restrictions, as shown below:

R-1: Chains are required on all vehicles except passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks under 6,000 pounds gross weight and equipped with snow tires on at least two drive wheels. Chains must be carried by vehicles using snow tires. All vehicles towing trailers must have chains on one drive axle. Trailers with brakes must have chains on at least one axle.

R-2: Chains are required on all vehicles except four-wheel-drive vehicles under 6,500 pounds gross weight and equipped with snow tires on all four wheels. Chains for one set of drive wheels must be carried by four wheel-drive vehicles using snow tires.

R-3: Chains are required on all vehicles without exception.

R-1 and R-2 are the most common conditions. A highway will often be closed before an R-3 condition is imposed. Some local areas may use variations of these designations. You must follow the directions on the signs posted for chain controls or any instructions given by Caltrans or CHP personnel at chain control check points, even if these are at variance with broadcast road condition reports or information contained herein."

I drive to Mammoth often, and I've never seen R-3 conditions imposed. If the snow is that bad, CHP would close the road.

The State of California classifies M+S as snow tires, and considers AWD to be the same as four-wheel-drive in regards to chain regulations. Real snow tires are certainly better, but are impractical for most SoCal drivers. M+S are legal.
 

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I've been stopped a couple times in CA and in OR with a 4WD vehicle for chains because I tow a small dog trailer. I'm coming back to purchase another Subaru (outback) and having the ability to put on a set of chains to satisfy the law is very important.
From this thread it appears that I can do so as long as they are cable, low profile chains.
Does anyone totally disagree with that?
 

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I've never been stopped for a lack of chains in Colorado. The chain control guys just wave everyone with a Subaru through, but make other AWD's stop (?). I do however use a set of M/S tires from late Oct until April around here though. Never had a problem and the X-Ice's I have flat out rock when the white stuff starts falling.
 

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In my experience, if you need chains with a competent 4wd or a Subaru AWD, you have no business being out there. When the weather is that bad, everybody should stay home. The plow guys will not be able to get to the plows.

This is especially true if the aforementioned 4wd or Subaru has dedicated winter tires.

I live where we get up to 3 feet of snow in a single dump, from time to time. I have never had to stay home.
 

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Guys this thread is about a Socal guy going to Big Bear for a rides on the slope! Let me explain this as best as a Native CA can to the rest of the world who thinks 4 months out of the year everyone is Iced over and hibernating in their basement hobby shops.


#1 Here in CA we get what we call Sierra Cement dumped on us by the Feet per hour when the Alaskan Storms roll in during the winter. CA does not Salt its roads we sand our roads given salt kills our trees. Sierra Cement is heavy wet snow we get so much of it that CA has the largest network of covered rails of any state in the US given it stops freight trains in their tracks.

#2 In CA we can surf and sail on Saturday and head up to the ski slopes wearing our board shorts and ski on several feet of fresh powder in just a short couple hour drive.

Both Big Bear where I have a Family cabin and Tahoe where I grew up skiing as a kid and go often during the winters - the only 4x4 vehicles who get stopped and asked to chain up are vehicles with compromised tires - or loads ie towing trailers. The conditions that are in place when you see 4x4's being forced to chain up in the Sierras are extreme conditions - so much snow is falling from the sky and blowing across the roads that the plows can't keep up I've been through many of these in my subaru Legacy when we chased the big storms to be the first on the untouched fresh snow cutting our own tracks on the mountain. 170mph winds have ripped parts of the buildings off we were staying in - have blown mini vans parked in the parking lot into other parked cars etc.

I've had to go out driving in these conditions also 99.99% of the time everyone is off the road except line crews trying to get power lines back up. AT NO TIME in the past 30yrs have I ever had to chain up a AWD subaru or 4x4!

The pass from CA to Oregon on I5 is one of the worst to try and cross during a bad storm I have close family in Medford we have delt with this pass and the horrid road conditions going both ways North and South - AGAIN - the road has been shut down long before any AWD or 4x4 we have ever used was required to chain up!

Every road crew out there hates chains and does not want a vehicle which does not need chains to be parked on the shoulder of the road putting chains on contributing to the mess and traffic jam nor do they want another chained vehicle going over the pass in bad conditions with chains flopping loose posing a serious road hazard to others.

The only time I've chained up while towing a trailer we had to put chains on the trailer and the tow car for added stability due to the load we were hauling.


Last of all any CA peep who does the storm chase to the ski slope knows how to time it to avoid the worst road conditions to start with - if the CA Road crews are letting cars through any Subaru with the correct allseason tires will get waved through without chains. When a subaru needs to be chained up all open roads to the public will be shut down!
 

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So does the M+S rating in the states qualify as a winter tire?

Here in canada the only true winter tires have a snowflake on the side, (IE. ones that are legal in Quebec). I can't remember off hand, but the difference was testing. A M+S tire hasn't been tested properly, it's strictly a m+s design. Whereas the snowflake tires are actually tested.
 
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