Last post on Jan 24, 2011 at 7:07 PM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
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Subaru Legacy, Subaru, Sedan, Wagon
Jan 05, 2011 (5:39 pm)
We get winter snow in the New Mexico mountains. There are days when you can't get near our house without AWD
Over the last 18 years we have had five Subies and two Audi's. A few observations:
1. Historically, BOTH manufacturers delivered most of their cars with crap tires. I almost always ended up replacing the OEM tires with better summer or all season rubber.
2. We always have one car that stays in New Mexico. I buy an extra set of wheels with Blizzaks for that car and stack them at the back of my garage. I swap the summer and winter wheels every fall and spring. The whole job takes about 45 minutes.
Not as extravagant as it sounds. I buy decent wheels, so I spend about $1000 for four wheels and tires. But, the tire portion of that investment is not wasted. Because I am using each set of tires about half the year, I am basically buying the winter tires INSTEAD of spending the same money on the second set of all season's I would otherwise have needed.
3. In winter weather, the most important thing isn't "going." It is stopping and turning -- especially on ice. I have gotten caught out on all season tires in both Subies and Audis. I was always able to get through the snow I encountered, but stopping and turning were scary. There is NO substitute for winter tires in snow and ice.
4. Well, almost no substitute. We bought a new model 2010 Legacy GT last fall. We already had a superb "snow" car (2005 Outback XT w. Blizzaks). The GT was to be used for high speed driving across the CA, AZ and NM deserts -- just the kind of driving that simply kills winter tires. But, it also had to be able to be able to cope with the snow and ice it would encounter in the New Mexico winter.
The solution was a set of new Continental DWS (Dry, Wet Snow) tires. Tire Rack tests had showed that these are in a whole different class than other all season tires for winter driving. Perhaps halfway between normal all seasons and proper winter tires.
Tire Rack was right. Two winters now, and we have been amazed at the winter performance of these tires. They are not the equal of proper winter tires, but they are in a different league than any other all season tire I have ever driven.
We recently got caught in near blizzard conditions all the way from Flagstaff to Santa Fe. With world-class AWD, the Conti's and steering that gives great feedback as to what was going on down there, the 2010 Legacy was king of the road.
The Conti tires have markers in their tread that allow you to track tread wear. When you can no longer see the "S" marker, you will have lost their extra snow capabilities. I now have 17,000 miles on the tires and can still see the "S". So, this set will get me through this winter. Before next winter sets in, I will buy a replacement set for winter use, and use up the remaining miles on this set in warmer weather.
5. Years ago, I drove FWD Saabs in winter rallies. Once you have driven a good AWD car with proper winter tires in the snow, you will never go back. There is no comparison. A situation that would have sent me nose-first off the road in a FWD car ends up being a fun 4 wheel drift in the Subie.
Bear in mind though, not all AWD systems are equal. I have great confidence in the Subie and Audi full time AWD systems. I have less confidence in the many part time systems that don't switch over to AWD until wheels start slipping. A few of these seem to work OK. Others have left me longing for a Subaru.
#13 of 18 Re: Snow beasts [atalaya505]
Jan 05, 2011 (6:01 pm)
I put hose same Continentals on my '09 WRX this fall. They replaced the summer tires that came standard on the WRX.
So far I'm very pleased. They are a bit slippery when it gets cold, however. In fact, all 4 tires broke loose several weeks ago while taking one of my favorite country road corners at a rather brisk clip. I slid half way into the other lane; good thing no one was coming in the other direction. In warmer weather that same speed through that corner would have been no problem.
The day after Christmas, while visiting my daughter and her new husband, we got 14" of snow. The Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires handled it with ease (just need to remember to turn off the Traction Control when starting out in deep snow).
#14 of 18 Re: Snow beasts [atalaya505]
Jan 05, 2011 (6:13 pm)
Once you have driven a good AWD car with proper winter tires in the snow, you will never go back.
Yes, I have to admit that to be the case! I used all-seasons for seven years here in Fairbanks, Alaska (that's six months straight of snow/ice driving) - no problem. Once I decided to get a set of winter tires (commensurate with a new car), though, I would never consider settling for year-round all-seasons again.
As you say, it is not extra money spent (unless one drives very few miles annually) because it simply offsets the frequency with which any one given set of tires is replaced. I used to replace all-seasons every two-to-three years. Now it will be more like four-to-five (four for the winter tires, five for the summer).
#15 of 18 Re: Snow beasts [xwesx]
Jan 06, 2011 (7:07 pm)
DWS are good tires. I put a set on the CTS-V and drove it well into the cold this year while waiting on my STi paperwork to get squared away. I like em as an all-compromise tire. So far the Michelins Alpine 3 tires are doing well and I consider them a "3 season" tire.
#16 of 18 Re: Snow beasts [paisan]
Jan 06, 2011 (9:19 pm)
"All-compromise" is an excellent description. That is exactly what these tires are.
#17 of 18 Re: Snow beasts [atalaya505]
Jan 07, 2011 (9:05 am)
Similar to cars or any mechanical device, it cannot be good at EVERYTHING. If it has a wide range, then there will be compromises on either end of the spectrum, for me on my Subaru, a dedicated summer/race tires and dedicated snows work for me. On my SUV which doesn't need all out performance, I run AT Tires and on my CTS-V I run All Season on the street and race tires on the track.
#18 of 18 Re: legacy in snow not so great [jtny1]
Jan 24, 2011 (7:07 pm)
If you look at the tire survey on the stock tires at Tirerack.com you will find out that they are terrible in snow and a generally crappy tire. The only thing they are good for is comfort. Subaru has a history of putting lousy Bridgestones on their cars (even though Bridgestone makes some great tires.)