Last post on Dec 15, 2008 at 12:18 PM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
What is this discussion about?
#15 of 64 Re: preferred system [cptplt]
Sep 07, 2008 (11:30 am)
That's good news for people like me who are unsure about using VDC. I was able to confirm yesterday that the 2009's will also have an on/off switch on the dash - whew!
Maybe people like you who have VDC have some opinions about whether to use it all the time or to be selective - and if so, when do they use it?
I think that I will leave it on most of the time but turn it off when road conditions are obviously bad and require extra care. I prefer not to give up control under these conditions and rely on my own skill from years of experience driving in snow. At these times I'm already driving cautiously and feel I only need VDC when apparently good conditions present a surprise I would not otherwise be ready for.
How do others with VDC feel about this and how do you use it?
#16 of 64 Re: preferred system [jim2345]
Sep 08, 2008 (7:55 am)
I leave it on all the time, I have VDC on my OB, also a Tribeca and Sienna, I also use snowtires in winter and to be honest I don't recall ever seeing the VDC kick in when I'm driving those vehicles in snow but my wife drives the Sienna primarily and my in law the Tribeca and I don't drive their cars like my WRX so I'm not really pushing the traction to the limit on them! I think I've made the traction control on the Sienna kick in , I don't think its the stability control itself as it was in a straight line but its the same light going off on the dash. When the weather is bad, my high schoolers drive the OB which makes me breath a lot easier and is much better for my blood pressure. Is the VDC "worth " it for me, dunno. Is it good for my familys safety, probably.
#17 of 64 Re: preferred system [xwesx]
Sep 08, 2008 (8:51 am)
Yeah, the van has an off switch but I hear it just increases the threshold.
When it snows I'm taking the wife's Forester, so no thanks!
Sep 09, 2008 (12:32 pm)
I like a manual transmission for performance reasons and for driving fun (not to mention it will cost $1000 less than the automatic). But what about this difference in AWD systems? Does anyone have an opinion about which will work better for my needs? I've had 3 OB's, all auto, a 96 wagon, 99 SUS, and currently a 03 VDC wagon.
In deep snow, the VDC never really kicked in.
In loose gravel and wet roads it will engage momentarily.
Where I notice the greatest difference is on ice packed roads, especially while turning or going up an upgrade. The first time it kicked in I was turning on an icy road and had the eerie feeling that the engine had died. The car pulled through the icy turn, slower, but with no loss of traction. The Grand Cherokee that was tailgating me at the time ended up in the ditch.
On the models I have owned without the VDC, there would always be some traction loss, but overall would perform well.
Sometimes, though, I think I would like a manual OB, especially when descending icy streets which require a stop at the end. I would like to downshift to slow the vehicle.
All my cars were shod with all-season radials, not snows.
#19 of 64 Re: [thallberg]
Sep 09, 2008 (2:13 pm)
Thanks for the reply; I appreciate hearing about your experience.
When you talked about descending icy streets, you really got my attention because this is something I have to do a lot. And it's at times like these that you really want to stay off the brakes. At the end of every ski day, I have to come down the winding mountain roads - often just after or during a flurry where the road surface has gotten covered and then packed by the traffic coming off the mountain. But doesn't your 2003 Outback have a shiftable automatic or does this not work as effectively as a manual transmission in slowing you down on steep down grades?
Please reply as engine braking on a steep slope is something I probably cannot determine very well when I take out an automatic for a test drive. Thanks.
Sep 10, 2008 (11:35 am)
When descending a slippery slope I do down shift with the 2003 VDC, and it does do a good job of slowing the car without skidding, but engagement seems a bit slow.
What I have noticed with the AWD manual is the feeling of being more in control by "playing" the clutch and the brake, if you know what I mean. Probably isn't good on the clutch, but sliding into a busy intersection could be worse.
Most of my driving is urban and highway, and the VDC is great for that.
If I had a lot of twisting mountain roads, I'd be inclined toward the manual.
#21 of 64 Re: [thallberg]
Sep 10, 2008 (2:45 pm)
Well, the weak link with either transmission is the tires. They only have so much traction, so if they lose it (whether it be engine braking or discs braking), they lose it. I found the 07 manual I owned to be more effective at engine braking than my '96 (which was an auto), but probably just because the first gear was a bit lower of a ratio than the 4-speed auto. For my '08 auto, it was more cumbersome to put into specific gears because it only does so in the "manumatic" mode, but it was effective at engine braking, and held gears to red-line before automatically shifting to the next gear, so you would not have to worry about it shifting without your input. One thing is for certain - ditch the OEM tires, especially if you plan to use all-seasons rather than dedicated winter tires.
The only place I can think that the auto might make a drastic difference is with emergency maneuvers when immediate responsiveness is needed. If the manual driver is not perfectly in tune with the car, it may not be in the right gear at the right time (or even running, if the driver let the engine stall out) to avoid disaster. But, that is a driver consideration....
#22 of 64 Re: [thallberg]
Sep 11, 2008 (8:23 am)
So the automatic provides reasonable engine braking when descending - good! And I know exactly what you mean about feeling more in control with a manual transmission at times like this and "playing" the clutch and brake - been there! When your knuckles are white, you do what you have to do . . .
#23 of 64 Re: [xwesx]
Sep 11, 2008 (8:35 am)
Thanks for that, Wes.
I know what a difference tires can make and will take a hard look at the OEM tires (I think they are rated M&S rather than all-season but I haven't been to the dealer yet to look at the tread). I have been quick to upgrade in the past when the "newness" has worn off and they stop performing well.
Please explain the last paragraph about stalling - I'm not sure I know what you mean. Are you saying that during emergency maneuvers - like when VDC takes away your control of the throttle, the driver with a manual transmission can stall the engine (even though he may be very experienced)?
#24 of 64 Re: [jim2345]
Sep 11, 2008 (9:47 am)
Oh, sorry, Jim. No, what I am saying is that if the driver, in the heat of the moment, forgets to keep the car in a gear that is appropriate for the speed of the tires, the engine can bog down and stall out. For example, say the car is moving at 50 mph, and the transmission is in 5th gear, just cruising down the highway. Suddenly, an oncoming car loses control and starts skidding into the path of my car. I initially hit the brakes hard, then swerve to the shoulder. I forget to press the clutch pedal during my braking, however, and the engine stalls because now I am only going 25-30 mph... too slow for the engine to run in 5th gear. So, i swerved to the shoulder, but suddenly I lose power steering and brakes, so instead of maneuvering a car, I am maneuvering a lead sled. I just lost most of my options in terms of evasive maneuvers because I can no longer brake as quickly, steer as sharply, or accelerate. If the oncoming vehicle continues toward my shoulder, it could get ugly quick.
Had I the presence of mind to re-gear the car for the situation, I could jet past the oncoming car before it had a chance to reach the shoulder, move further off or on the roadway to avoid its path, or brake more decisively.
With an automatic, it will do the re-gearing itself, I just have to work the wheel and pedals.
Now, that is my example scenario with a classic manual or auto, and the effects are strictly the result of the driver's actions. I am not sure what affect VDC would have on a manual. Boy, it would sure unsettle me if the scenario you presented were the case, but I suspect there must be some sort of fail-safe in that situation otherwise I doubt the NHTSA would allow the technology on MT vehicles. Sure gets me to wondering, though!
In my opinion, the whole point to a manual transmission is driver input/control. The VDC should work with that constraint, not attempt to subvert it. In other words, it should be a co-pilot, not a replacement.
Okay, so tires. Take my word on this, if the car has Bridgestone Pontenza RE-92A tires, don't even bother taking a hard look when it comes to winter driving conditions. Newness or no, they are worthless in snow and mediocre on ice at best. I drove my '07 on these tires in snow/ice right off the lot, and it was... interesting. I had always before used all-seasons (the last tires on my '96 were Goodyear TripleTreads), and these were downright awful tires. On my '08, I encountered snow for the first time at about 3500 miles, and while I did fine for the 4000 miles I drove on snow/ice, it sure was tricky at times. There were a couple times I could not make it up my driveway after a light snowfall (4-5"), and that NEVER happened in my '96 Subaru (again, with more effective all-season tires), even with a foot or more of snowfall.
The one good thing about them? It was easy and rewarding to toss the car around an icy surface. Not sure that is a very good reason to keep them, though. They are okay on dry or wet surfaces, at least to my budget-conscious mind.