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I need advise on winter driving, which I know nothing about since I live in Los Angeles. I'm planning a trip to Mammoth this winter on my 2004 outback. I've yet to drive my outback in snowy conditions. Will the stock tires on my outback be ok for occasional visits to snowy conditions? Do you recommend using tire chains? What type of chains and on which tires? Owners manual does not recommend use of chains, but I've heard people using it on outbacks.
 

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Tokyo's between my toes
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Welcome to the board!

The OB is a good platform to take into moderate snow, but the choice of tires makes a difference too. You can find endless discussions of what's the best winter tire on all the Subaru boards, and on other places like SAAB boards.

Maybe before you drive the OB in snow you should drive a 2WD of some sort first, for contrast. Driving an OB in snow makes a person grin like a fool.

With at least 7 inches of clearance, you can deal with that amount of snow without dragging the body through it. After that it can get *interesting* depending on the texture of the snow. In powdery stuff you can fluff along, but a 10-inch-tall pile of stiff snowplow droppings can stop you.
 

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I also am going to drive up into the snow sometime this week(we're finally getting a base on the ski slopes!) and have never driven my new 05 OBBean in any slick conditions. Ive decided to keep my RE92 OEM tires for the winter since they only have 3000 miles on them. Ive read countless numbers of threads saying how sh*##y the tires are, but if I take it easy do you think Ill still have problems? or will buying the Nokians I want for $700 make that huge a difference?
 

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I 'think' CA requires chains at least in your car in the mountains don't they? You only use them on the front and anything from a local auto store is fine provided they are the right size. You should be fine w/o, just take it easy. AWD does not make you invincible, so just be careful. I would guess the roads will be fine other than the lot at Mammoth. Unless there is a huge storm that is.

New RE92 tires are not bad in snow but not great, as they wear they are crap. But that is the case for any all season really.
 

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babean said:
or will buying the Nokians I want for $700 make that huge a difference?
Not knowing exactly what the standard tire is on the US Outback I'd take my chances anyway and say that it most certainly makes a difference. And a big one !
Driving as well as diving in winter conditions both require the proper gear if you want to comply with the rules of repeatability! In short, follow the rules and you'll be whole lot more likely to be able to do it again.
It's plain outright not very smart from a self prevervation point of view to drive in serious winter conditions without the proper tires! Eventhough the Subaru's awd will stretch the usefulness of the standard tires a bit they're no match for proper winter tires. Buy the Nokians or other tires specifically designed for winter use. On a side note, here where I live "All season tires" (even those marked M+S) on your car in winter conditions between Dec 1st and March 30th is considered a violation of road safety regulations and you may be fined! As always get the right tools for the job.
 

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New RE92 tires are not bad in snow but not great

i respectfully disagree. read the reviews of RE92s on Tirerack website, most of which equate RE92s in snow to suicide, new or old. such consistency of opinion is rare among the reviews of various tires i';ve researched.

buy the Nokians. or something. else.
 

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I've read them and, well, I disagree. I live at 1800' above sea level - the entrance to my neighborhood is at about 750'. It is a climb of 1000 feet in about 1.5 miles of road with many very steep downhill switchbacks and hills (or uphill depending on which way you are going of course). I made this drive on RE92s quite a few times last year in different snow and slush conditions. All of this before the tires had 10k miles on them. They did fine, no problems whatsoever. Of course YRMV. They get a bad rap IMO. Brand new with decent tread they are an ok all season tire in snow. Like I said "not bad in snow but not great." *The fact that they hydroplane so easily is a whole other issue.* I gotta really question what sort of expectations people have in an all season tire in snow when I read some of those reviews (some, not all). Of course they dont compare to a snow tire and of course you can't just drive like you normally would on dry pavement.

FWIW I sold the RE92s with about 15k on them last year and I now have Nokian WRs on my OBS for the winter. I just wish it would snow...
 

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A little off the subject.....does anyone know the actual tire diameter of the OEM 225/55-17 RE -92A's that came on my '05 OBXT. I have upgraded to Nokians but was thinking of keeping 1 or 2 of the old tires as a full size spare. I can't seem to locate this info on the web anywhere for this exact size. It is difficult to measure them with a tape and get the precise figure.

My Nokians in the same size appear have a diameter of 28.6" according to their charts.
 

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I just wish it would snow...
imagine the frustration of being in Galveston TX for 100+ yr record snowfall of abt 6".....and my OBS was 800 miles away in El Paso!

i'm not too unhappy with the RE92s i have on my jap pickup, but we don't get much snow OR rain here. but i wouldn't stick a set on the OBS.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
CA requires chains under certain snowy condition. Has anybody used chains on their outback? The owner's manual says not to use chains. Does anybody know which chains are ok to use?




Types of Chain Controls
During the winter months motorists may encounter traction device controls in the mountain areas of California. When chain controls are established signs along side the road will be opened indicating the type of requirement. There are three requirements in California.

Requirement One (R1): Chains are required, snow tires are allowed.

Requirement Two (R2): Chains are required on all vehicles except four wheel drive vehicles
with snow tires on all four wheels.
(NOTE: Four wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas)

Requirement Three (R3): Chains are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.
 

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Tokyo's between my toes
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When I worked in the landscape maintenance shop at Ohio State, one winter duty was to putter around on a Ford 1100 diesel tractor with a snowplow. Those tractors had chains in the winter, and I'm here to say that setup is a TIT SHAKER


:eek:
 

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flyingfish2u said:
CA requires chains under certain snowy condition. Has anybody used chains on their outback? The owner's manual says not to use chains. Does anybody know which chains are ok to use?

Are you sure the manual says to not use chains? My manual says you only use them on the front, but it is also a different vehicle. Does it give any specifics as to why? As far as which chains; anything from a local auto store or Kmart is fine provided they are the right size.

I used chains on my '99 Legacy AWD Wagon a few years ago in VT(your Outback is essentially a Legacy). It was particularly icy one evening and I used them to get up a large hill near where we were staying.
 

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To answer the original question. Steady and methodical is the way to drive in the snow. Always consider how you will get out of where you are before you actually stop in the snow. Leave lots of room in front of you for stopping. If your tires start sliding, you will not be able to steer so be very light on the brakes. When merging, make sure you have plenty of room to accelerate.

Ca. law requires chains in your car but I’ve never heard of anyone getting in trouble for not having them. Ca. has degrees of requirements. The first is Chains or 4x4 with snow rated tires. The second is 4x4 with chains only. I’ve never seen the second one. But I have been in escorted caravans going across the Luther pass. I don’t think I’d even want to be out when the second is required. In other words, AWD cars w/ snow tires will not have to put chains on so you don’t have to worry about the type you buy because you won’t use them.
 

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I live in Truckee, Lake Tahoe CA. I drive back and forth everyday to work over Brockaway Summitt at 7300 feet which has 20-30 days of chain control per year. I live closer to Donner Summit where we get about 30 feet of snow a year. The Outback will get through it. I still have my original tires, now at 30K+ miles and all is okay. I have never used chains and would definitely not recommend it on AWD. California is so conservative on chain control. When they require chains it is just for 2WD vehicles. If it so bad that they require chains on all vehicles including 4WD vehicles, you shouldn't be on the road anyway. I have only seen this occur once around my area in the last 2 years. I also can routinely drive through 12 to 15 inches of snow with some caution. It gets to be a problem when the snow goes over the bumper. Remember, AWD doesn't help you stop, so take it easy and leave a lot of room in front of you
jp
 

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jjp said:
I live in Truckee, Lake Tahoe CA. I drive back and forth everyday to work over Brockaway Summitt at 7300 feet which has 20-30 days of chain control per year. I live closer to Donner Summit where we get about 30 feet of snow a year. The Outback will get through it. I still have my original tires, now at 30K+ miles and all is okay. I have never used chains and would definitely not recommend it on AWD. California is so conservative on chain control. When they require chains it is just for 2WD vehicles. If it so bad that they require chains on all vehicles including 4WD vehicles, you shouldn't be on the road anyway. I have only seen this occur once around my area in the last 2 years. I also can routinely drive through 12 to 15 inches of snow with some caution. It gets to be a problem when the snow goes over the bumper. Remember, AWD doesn't help you stop, so take it easy and leave a lot of room in front of you
jp
I love that area! I spent a month near Donner Ski Ranch learning how to telemark. When not out in the back country I stayed at the Sierra Club lodge up there. BEAUTIFUL!
 

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Well, I can tell you, since my father lives at the base oof Mammoth in Bishop, you are pretty much past the thick of it.

You will DEFINITELY encounter high winds between Bishop and Mammoth, but if you keep your speed sane,, this shoulld pose no significant problems.

As far as snow goes, my experience has always been that slower IS better. Drive only as fast as you feel safe, and keep aggressive driving to a minimum. You have plenty of time to get there, so don't be in a rush. Even though the 395 may seem like it takes forever, just enjoy the beautiful High Desert Valley Sierras and relax. Getting there is half the fun!

Also, if you are so inclined to do so, there are a number of nice dirt roads outside of Bishop that lead to some pretty spectacular places...Buttermilk Boulders comes to mind.

Last but not least, check out the Great Basin Bakery off of S. Main Street in Bishop (skip Schaat's altogether). GBB has the best Roasted Garlic Bagels, and the best coffee too!!

Hope this helps!
 
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