Snow chains not required/recommended on Outback?


Asked by Oct 27, 2015 at 08:19 AM about the 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

Question type: General

I've noticed that the owner's manual specifically states that you cannot put
snow chains on the Outback, so,   how bad is this car in the snow with all
season tires.   If you're on a road trip,  it doesn't make sense to carry an extra
set of winter tires along just to switch them out if you encounter snow?     
Finally,  have any of you experienced driving the CVT transmission in snow?  
How well does that work?

5 Answers


They make special snow traction devices for subarus, they are called traction spyders, they are expensive, there was a vid on you tube about them. I have been told that if it is really slick the tranny can overheat and burn up, but I have never seen this nor had any experience with a CVT myself

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Hi Mark, The CVT doesn't "know" anything, except equal rolling radii protects the center and rear AWD diffs from overheating. So just don't mix different HEIGHTS front/rear. Newer OBs like yours suffer from spongy 17" tires, so you'll be "stuck" with even spongier, overly heavy, squirmy winter tires if you go that route. If your winter surfaces frequently involve driving on ice or deep snow then you will benefit from the so-called studless ice and snow recs from The TireRack et al. If you simply want low temperature high speed performance with only occasional deep snow or pure ice I'd get a quieter, better winter tire like the Mich X-Ice3 (pretty quiet!), or the new Conti SI that looks great for the money. Graspics and Alimax are louder. Blizzaks and Pilots $$$. If you have the optional 18" wheels you have many more high performance options, allowing high speed touring on nicer days without hurting your ears. I fear blowig your head up b telling you that you can mix brands front-to-back, so long as you keep the slightly TALLER ones (whether different brands or simply more tread) up front so that squeeze down (60F/40R weight distribution, remember?) to match the rears. Then the CVT is stupidly happy. And don't bother with the stupid "starting in 2" mode on ice if you have a gentle foot. It's just a computer alogorithm, unlike the previous discrete multi-gear autoboxes.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

TheSubaruGuruBoston, thank you. I actually live in Los Angeles, so, aside from trips to the mountains and other locale with snow, we don't have any local problems in SoCal. I do travel to Michigan, but, have not had any reason to bring my Subaru there. Who knows? But, your suggestions are very appreciated. I was surprised that in the owners manual it specifically says that chains are not recommended, but, a couple of people told me that these cars are so good in the snow that they show up pretty much everything else.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

LA? Then just use decent All Season Tires that are on the aggressive side of the summer-winter continuum. TireRack's surveys can be helpful here. Problem is lots of UHP tires don't come in the new OB's stupid tall and soft sizes.


If you do not have cables or chains of some type the California Highway Patrol will not let you go to certain snowy areas, all wheel drive, 4wd or not.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

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