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Question about slick road stability


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13 replies to this topic

#1 Bushwick

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:22 AM

This is the first AWD car I've ever owned or gotten to drive in the snow. It's doing a good job "going" through 4-6" of snow, but I've noticed if I'm on a slick or snow packed road, or even an unplowed 2-4" snow covered road, once I get to around 25 MPH, The front and rear seem to be constantly fighting each other? Meaning I'm constantly having to over correct with the steering as it feels like the rear is wanting to either kick out or is fighting the steering somehow. I've tried putting it in neutral and it still does this? Could it be the rear is too far out of alignment and is "walking" slightly at different angle than the front, causing the weird handling? I've had FWD cars and 4X4 trucks blow past me on the same roads I'm struggling to do 25 on, so I'm thinking something is "off", but w/o a previous AWD to compare too, I'm not sure.



#2 Fairtax4me

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:28 AM

Something's off. Get a real alignment done.
My 96 is straight as an arrow at 40+ on snowy roads. Have done almost 60 in snow with that car but that was pushing my comfort level to the extreme. Solid as a rock the whole time.

#3 Bushwick

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:42 AM

Thanks Fairtax, I'll get on it. It drives fine on dry or wet roads, and all 4 tires have tread. Looks like when I replaced the rotted out rear crossmember I didn't do a good enough job with the rear most control arm adjustments (or maybe I tweaked something while drifting a couple months back in a snow covered parking lot :()


Edited by Bushwick, 29 January 2014 - 12:44 AM.


#4 grossgary

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 07:02 AM

i think it's your tires:

 

all 4 tires have tread.

 

that means little in the snow, most people underestimate tire performance regarding snow, particularly in Ohio where flat roads are and easy to drive when it snows.
1.  not all tires are great in the snow - a FWD with Nokian Happs is going to perform better often times than a 4WD Subaru with regular tires in flat land.

2.  age matters profusely.  i've seen "new" tires be so terrible that the ABS couldn't stop the car on steep inclines, it keeps pulsing and the car will not stop (you can google/search subaru forums with other people having the same issues - *swearing* their tires have tread on them, doesn't matter), have to pull the emergency brake to stop the car.  that's with nearly full tread - but the rubber is old or dried out and no good in snow.

 

how many bolts did you have shear off and how bad was it getting them out on the rusted crossmember?



#5 Bushwick

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:06 PM

Bolts shear off? If you mean did I have issues getting the old ones out of what was left of the old crossmember, then the answer is zero. Every single bolt came out. The 2 that tie into the pumpkin cover were the toughest to remove and needed vice grips as the nuts were rusted and rounded. The ones for the control arms came out easy enough. The actual crossmember was a completely different story though. Is was completely rotted through on both sides up top. It was attached to the pumpkin, but was no longer attached to the unibody on either side. 

 

As far as the tires go, they seem to be all season and all 4 have even tread wear with no cupping. It actually accelerates and stops really good on slick or snow covered roads and stays straight too (forcing FWD is another story and the car behaves like any other FWD does). Part of that reason is they are skinny and we all know skinny tires hold their own better in snow. I didn't measure the control arm distance, so I know for a fact the rear isn't aligned. The steering wheel is a tad off center too, but it doesn't pull, but again it definitely needs a 4 wheel alignment. Wet and dry roads it feels normal enough, and the tie rods, ball joints, and wheel bearings are still OK. It'll need an alignment anyways, so I'll do that and see if acts differently or not. Like I stated before, it's only got an issue with snow covered roads, and that doesn't show up until 25-30 mph on certain slick roads where it feels a little loose and I'm constantly working the steering wheel to keep it straight as the rear feels like it's wanting to kick out or something. The ABS won't kick in unless I'm standing on the brakes, meaning I haven't heard clicking for normal to moderate braking on any road surface. It doesn't stop nearly as nice as my 9-3 does even though I have 4 wheel disc, but that's a down side of weaker brakes and thinner rubber. No screeching, just feels like the brakes are under-sized on harder braking efforts. No dry rot either. All four tires were off as a valve stem was bad after purchasing it, so I had all four changed then. They made no comments about the tires being bad, and if they were bad or nearing their end, I'm 100% positive they would have been trying to upsell me something. I'll run these until bald as it's just a back up/winter car that might get dd routines until summer. I was just wanting to confirm if the alignment in the rear would play that much of a role with snow covered roads or not.


Edited by Bushwick, 29 January 2014 - 12:08 PM.


#6 grossgary

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:59 PM

awesome.  the rear subframe rotted through and none of the bolts sheared off?  nice!

 

the even tread and no cupping seems odd if the alignment is really bad.  but you know it's off and had all that stuff apart so makes perfect sense to start there and nowhere else.



#7 Bushwick

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 01:20 PM

I got lucky with the rear coming out. Got even luckier when the very 1st car I looked at a bone yard with 255k miles actually had a new replacement crossmember with new control arms. P-A-P wanted $20 EACH for each bar so I passed on them and just got the crossmember for $17.

 

I haven't been putting a ton of miles on the car, normally 30 mile trips and maybe 3k miles since Oct, so probably not enough to get the tires wearing. Like I said, I'll get it aligned and see what happens or see what they say. Might be something with suspension. I don't mind the tiny steel skinnys on this (with no hubcaps to let everybody know it's a winter car ;)) and replacement tires will be super cheap, but might search out some nicer aluminum Legacy rims or something and get wider tires as a deal or replace then.



#8 Fairtax4me

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 01:25 PM

Too much toe angle in the rear will cause it to be kinda squirrely.
Front toe can affect that as well since it makes turn-in easier.
You could also have both tires toed the same direction (both point right or both left) which would throw off the thrust angle.
Same deal with camber. If one wheel is positive and one is negative, even a small amount, it will tend to jump towards the positive side when you hit a bump and make the car feel like the back end wants to do the steering. Especially on slick roads.

Pad material and rotor quality make a huge difference in braking power. A set of decent quality ceramics will help with the stopping distance.
If you want a big improvement for minimal cost get a set of EBC Red-stuff pads. Great pads with good cold bite, and excellent high temp. fade resistance.

#9 gbhrps

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 07:37 PM

Bushwick,

 

If you want a Subie that is crazy glued to the road in snow and ice, get a good set of winter icegrip tires, and the narrowest that will fit safely on the rims without crowning. You will have no problems in the snow doing the speeds you are expecting (within reason and driving conditions).

 

My 2012 runs factory 225/60/17's in summer and 195/70/16's in winter. The speedo is low by 4 mph at 60 mph with the winter tires, but no big deal.

 

You can not expect a wide all season tire to give you the grip and performance that a good narrower winter tire can provide.

 

I've always equipped my Subies this way (a 97, an 04, an 07 and my present 2012) and the only problem I've faced in winter driving is the other cars on the road that were not eqipped the same way.



#10 brus brother

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 08:18 PM

As I reported in other posts, I had the same sensation that the 4 corners of the car were fighting each other for control. Got 4 new/balanced tires and a proper alignment (it was way out of specs) and all is well.

BTW, bought the tires retail and had Subaru mount/balance and align. Thought they'd be more sensitive to our little friends.



#11 Bushwick

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:23 AM

Off-topic, but what are a direct swap upgrade for rotors, pads, caliper? Are WRX stuff direct fit and larger? The stuff on the car now is OK and working as intended, but given the car is still rather light with me in it (still under 3200) I don't feel they stop well enough and there really isn't any way to make the car lighter as the seats aren't that heavy to begin with. Even if only the front rotors and calipers were upgraded by an inch in diameter, I think it'd help some.

 

Also, what rims are direct fit? Or rather, what year/model are direct swaps? Been thinking about upgrading to aluminum rims for summer usage, and 16" to 17" at the most would be nice, but I've done no research on these. What's the bolt pattern and is it still in use or did they change over the years? Been thinking about putting some money into the exterior eventually and getting a respray, which will mean a rim upgrade to keep the look proper. Not looking for overly aggressive looking rims as I don't want people thinking it's a turbo or something and wanting to race or something stupid with a station wagon.



#12 grossgary

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 07:42 AM

have the fluid being completely bled out of the entire system?

new brake pad retaining clips, slides cleaned up, regrease, replaced if necessary, new boots where needed?

 

bigger calipers don't stop a car any quicker.

 

nearly all Subaru brakes interchange if you want to go bigger.  yes WRX stuff swaps right over.  larger caliper brackets run into wheels and require 16" or 17" wheels depending which calipers you get.  search for Jamal brake caliper thread and it's got a lot of information there.

 

tires make the biggest difference in braking difference.  larger brakes will make no difference in stopping distance unless you're racing on a track or towing.

 

a properly operating brake system is going to activate the ABS or lock up the wheels.  if you have the smaller brakes ever made or the biggest brakes ever made and both lock the wheels up, which a properly operating brake system does - you'll get the same stopping distance.

 

fluid completely bled, new hardware (clips, boots, pins if they're corroded, etc) will make them perform much better and so some people report improvements after any brake job (same calipers or different).

 

 

Off-topic, but what are a direct swap upgrade for rotors, pads, caliper? Are WRX stuff direct fit and larger? The stuff on the car now is OK and working as intended, but given the car is still rather light with me in it (still under 3200) I don't feel they stop well enough and there really isn't any way to make the car lighter as the seats aren't that heavy to begin with. Even if only the front rotors and calipers were upgraded by an inch in diameter, I think it'd help some.

 

Also, what rims are direct fit? Or rather, what year/model are direct swaps? Been thinking about upgrading to aluminum rims for summer usage, and 16" to 17" at the most would be nice, but I've done no research on these. What's the bolt pattern and is it still in use or did they change over the years? Been thinking about putting some money into the exterior eventually and getting a respray, which will mean a rim upgrade to keep the look proper. Not looking for overly aggressive looking rims as I don't want people thinking it's a turbo or something and wanting to race or something stupid with a station wagon.

 

oh  man you got gobs of options on Subarus, just about anything.  all Subaru rims are 5x100 and interchangeable except 2005+ WTi, SVX...and maybe Tribeca rims.   So you've got lots of options, very easy to do.

 

the only issue is what you already asked about - larger brakes require larger wheels, so depends what you current have, what calipers you want, etc.  but i dont' see your vehicle listed.



#13 Bushwick

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 03:16 AM

^ Vehicle is in the signature (unless it's hidden from view??). Pads, rotors, etc. are only a couple years old as the previous owner kept receipts. Suppose there could be some air left in the system as it needed a driver side rear brake line, but I bled out until no air was leaving. Pedal is good, but hard to say "how good" since I never had a before to compare to. So, they switched bolt pattern in 05'? Nice to know. There's often people parting out WRX locally that might be nice if I find a subdued (no gold rims here) look and they don't think they're sitting a pile of gold and want $200 each LOL. Would be better off going to tirerack.com and getting a nice set for a 1/3 the price.

 

 

Larger brakes/rotors don't stop the car any quicker? You sure about that? If brakes are undersized, they have to work harder to try and stop the car. If you have more material grabbing a larger surface area, there should be less heat generated (especially on repeat or follow up stops) and less brake fade = better stopping. Granted tires are huge factor to consider, but increasing front rotor size should help with stopping. Rears might not be as vital, but fronts definitely are, especially when you add more weight to the car. I remember the early Fox Mustangs would have larger brakes up front (and eventually in the rear) with the V8 models. I've owned at least  two 4 cyl. to 302 and 351w (engine swaps) Fox Mustangs and both still had the factory 4 cyl. caliper/rotors up front at first. YES they'd stop the car, but switching to the V8 calipers/rotors netted better stopping, especially from higher speeds.


Edited by Bushwick, 31 January 2014 - 03:29 AM.


#14 grossgary

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 08:59 AM

only the STi switched bolt pattern in 2005, probably you know that, just checking.  all other models are fair game for your car (though i think tribecas may be different too).  you can use any Subaru wheel made from 1995-2014 with those few exceptions. check out forester Turbo's, WRX, Outbacks, lots of options!

 

no i'm not certain on brakes, i'd google it or read from folks that know what they're talking about.  that's what i did. i went from single (same calipers as yours) single pot calipers to dual in my former 1997 EJ22 daily driver and noticed no difference but i don't work them hard and had no issues before hand, and one experience is next to meaningless. i picked up 2 or 3 sets of upgrade calipers for my other Subarus and never installed them because i didn't notice a change and others said it won't matter much if everything is working properly.

 

i think it's put this way - you're right that larger brakes grab more - and require less force to locking up the wheels or activating the ABS.  but it's still the same result - locking up wheels or activating ABS, just requires a little less force to do it, not decrease stopping distance.

 

but the information seems murky all the way around, so i'm still questionable on the matter!

 

with larger cars, more weight, towing, aggressive driving/braking - then yes larger brakes i believe would help dissipate heat which can be generated quickly in more performance minded applications.

 

yours seem like they may not be performing properly.

 

this could be nonsense but it seems to me that Subarus tend to feel less grabby/biting than other vehicles and seem weaker, though folks say they're not, it's just a different feel.






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