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We are new 2003 Outback LL Bean owners. We like to ski

and want to know if we can get chains for our car. Apparently

Subaru does not reccomend any chains. We do not have or plan to use snow tires. Does ANYONE use chains in snowy or icy conditions? What do you reccomend?

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Hmm, I think the issue they aren't recommended is because of the lack of clearence with the 16" wheels.. I've never tried, but I would think there is enough if you keep things nice and tight...

 

Kinda interested in this myself, not that I'd ever need them here, but I did a quick search in google groups, ( http://groups.google.com ) and found some mention off the following:

 

http://www.spikes-spiders.com/

http://www.scc-chain.com/

 

I'm sure some of the folks in the NW/NE have some more insight. I suppose SOA might have some type of recommendation as well.

 

--Nick

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The tires that came with your car will most likely be ok for what you want to do. I have an '01 LL Bean and live in Alaska so I have a set of winter tires for it also.

 

If you have never driven a Subaru in the snow you will be nicely surprised on how these cars can handle it. I think you will love it. Enjoy the ride and remember, "it's what's driven inside".

 

The 'Ultimate Subaru Message Board' is a great web site for Soobie owners.

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Read your owners manual. It states that only a certain kind of CABLE can be used, and at that, only on the front wheels. You also shouldn't drive over what, 20mph with them?

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I'd reccomend you look at winter tires before looking for chains. It is quite amazing how much more grip winter tires get on snow/ice compared to normal "all season" tires.

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Originally posted by AK-Brando

I never needed chains/studded/snow tires on our Legacy. Despite pushing snow with the front bumper!

 

You can NOT use snow chains on ANY OUTBACK, and this is stated in the rear of the owner's manual in the "tire maintainance" section.

 

The Outback tires are bigger and as a result the chain will get stuck between the tire and strut assembly potentially causing significant damage. Subaru really should make this fact a little more obvious, even the dealers seem to oblivious to it. Non-Outback Subaru's can use snow chains on the front tires for short distances and speeds of 20MPH or so.

 

It is not just a tire diameter issue, it is also a tire width issue, Outback tires are 225mm wide, Legacy's are either 195 or 205mm. The height of the tire grows in proportion to the width, ex. 225/60-16 means the the diameter is 60% of 225mm times 2 plus 16 inches. So as the width increase so does the diameter, unless the profile (the 60 part) decreases.

 

If you live in a "Snow Chain Area", your only recourse is to install snow tires that have the mountain/snowflake logo. Winter/snow tires with this logo are EXEMPT from snow chain requirements.

 

Get a good set of winter tires such as the Michelin Arctic Alpin, Bridgestone Blizzak, Yokohama Guardex, or the like. Just make sure that the tire has the mountain/snow flake logo. Installing the tires on dedicated rims is the recommended solution as it is much easier and inexpensive to swap the tires each spring and fall, and it also protects the alloy wheels from salt damage.

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Go with snow tires. I would recommend studs as well. I just drove my mom's outback which has all-seasons on it, and even just for traction it can't hold a candle to my subaru, which has narrow studded snow tires on it. You're much better off getting better tires than running chains even if your car will allow the use of chains, which apparently it won't. I would also recommend getting the narrowest, tallest snow tires you can mount on the car. Having tires an inch narrower does wonders for traction and control on snow and ice, and extra ground clearance can be a godsend.

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Originally posted by Snowman

Go with snow tires. I would recommend studs as well. I just drove my mom's outback which has all-seasons on it, and even just for traction it can't hold a candle to my subaru, which has narrow studded snow tires on it. You're much better off getting better tires than running chains even if your car will allow the use of chains, which apparently it won't. I would also recommend getting the narrowest, tallest snow tires you can mount on the car. Having tires an inch narrower does wonders for traction and control on snow and ice, and extra ground clearance can be a godsend.

 

He's in San Diego, so I doubt studded tires are legal there, most places will allow studs from November 15-April 15 (or something like that), but not likely coastal southern California.

 

Studded tires do a lot of damage to roads... Studded tires are also very "loose" and dangerous on dry pavement. The studs lift the rubber off the pavement and there goes 80% of your traction. I have driven both studded and studless tires, and found the studded tires are far and away the best on snow and ice but absolutely suck on dry pavement. I gave up on studded tires 6 years ago when studless winter tires got a whole lot better when the Bridgestone Blizzak and its competitors hit the market. The studless tires work about 70-80% as well as studded tires on ice, they are equal performers in snow (studs are of no advantage in snow) and are much better on dry pavement.

 

I do agree with the point on narrow tires, I have stock size (225/60-16) Michelin Arctic Alpin tires on my 01 Outback, and sometimes it feels like my car is wearing skis. No real traction problem though, it just doesn't have the same "digging in" feel that my 93 Legacy had with its narrower 185/70-14 tires.

 

The problem is that the stock alloy wheels and all aftermarket steel rims are 6.5" wide, which as far as I know requires at least of 215 tire to prevent debeading. On Subaru's 5.5" wide rims are good for 175-195, 6" are good for 185-215, and 6.5" are good for 215-235. I look around for narrower 16" rim but could not find one. The 2001-2004 Outback absolutely requires 16" rims to clear the front brake calipers, so dropping to a 15" wont work (it will on the 2000 model though). Some narrow tires will work on "wide" rims, but your getting in to $pecial order territory.

 

On the Outback there is also very little clearance between the factory tires and the lower spring cup on the front strut (maybe 1/2 to 3/4 inch), so mounting larger tires is a no-no. It is also this lack of clearance on the Outback that prevents tire chains from being used.

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I bought 15" steel Forrester rims, with 205 70r15 Toyo winter tires, to replace my 16" summer tires. I tried it out in the snow, It's unbelievable, It will plow through wind driven snow above bumper height, with no problems... Just remember to clean that snow from the radiator....

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We are new 2003 Outback LL Bean owners. We like to ski
So do most Subaru owners!

 

Just for reference, a few winters ago I stopped into the WalMart in South Burlington VT just after a snowstorm. At least one out of four cars in the lot at the time was a Subaru - maybe one out of three. I checked 10 or a dozen of them, and exactly one had dedicated snow tires. All the rest had typical All Season M+S rated tires. A surprising number were older Outbacks with the original Michelins on them.

 

I've heard some mountain passes in CA require chains during some weather conditions - but don't they exempt AWD vehicles?

 

A stock Subaru is good enough in snow that you'll inevitably wind up stuck behind somebody with a car that isn't good in snow.....All that you can do is buy good speakers.

 

One thing that people tend to forget is that weight over the rear wheels is a Good Thing. Even with AWD, when it's snowing I try and keep several hundred pounds of something over the rear wheels, and a full tank of gas.

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IMHO it's silly to spend $20k-$30k on a car for it's snow capabilities and run all-season tires on it.

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