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Old 12-21-2003, 10:14 PM   #1
rammer
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Default Outback plow big time in the snow!

I have fairly new All-Seasons on and recently had the opportunity to play around in a large parking lot of snow. I'm finding that the car consistently understeers in the snow or plows. It is very difficult to control the car once a skid starts. My greatest problem is during cornering when the car just continues tangent to the turning radius. I've tried yanking up on the E-brake but the results aren't always helpful. What's the deal? Will Snow tires be needed to reduce the understeer? Also, I find the AWD's transfer of power between the wheels to be loud and abrupt. Is this normal for Subaru's? I never noticed this effect on my 1998 Impreza L.

Dave
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Old 12-21-2003, 10:17 PM   #2
RidinLow
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If you have terminal understeer, you're going way too fast for the amount of available grip. Try slowing down more before the turn and use the AWD to power out of it and help rotate the car.

If you're going too fast in a straight line, the front wheels won't be able to do anything to turn the car, so pulling the ebrake, spinning all 4, etc aren't going to help turn a car that's going straight.

I have snow tires on our OB. It's unstoppable.

AWD shouldn't make noise... that sounds rather odd.
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Old 12-22-2003, 04:31 AM   #3
Dave G
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Rammer,
You didn't tell us what brand and model of tires you have.
There are lots of tires that hold themselves out as "all season" tires, but many of them are lousy in snow. (Here are examples: the Yokohama AVSdb; Dunlop D60A2).
You either need to get better all-season tires, or get true winter tires.

Here are some all-season tires which are good in snow:
Dunlop SP5000
Continental ContiExtreme

Here are some true winter tires that you should consider:
Michelin Pilot Alpin
Dunlop WinterSport M2
Dunlop WinterSport M3
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-22
Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50 (these are great in the snow, but will feel sloppy on dry roads)
Pirelli 210 or 240 SnowSport (these will feel much more normal on dry roads, but they give up a little bit of winter traction on snow)

The two all-season tires I listed for you are very good in snow, but they are not in the same league as most true winter tires.
Keep in mind that if you buy true winter tires, don't get the crappy cheap ones. Check www.tirerack.com for reviews on any tires you are considering buying, and check there also for reviews on the tires you currently have. Maybe other people have rated them as poor in the snow, etc.

Good luck.
Dave G
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Old 12-22-2003, 06:28 AM   #4
BrokenCrank
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I have experienced the same thing in my 2000 Outback. I thought it was the nearly bald, stock Firestones and swapped them for Kumho 716s after reading reviews at Tirerack. These are better as far as straight line grip, but just as bad in the turns!

My problem lies mostly in low speed (5-10mph) 90 degree turns from one street to another. The car has plowed off the pavement twice now, and I have heard what I am assuming is the center diff., "ratcheting" when the understeer is happening.

I decided to experiment in a parking lot with braking, power modulation etc. The addition of power helps a bit, but braking does nothing (ie. the skid continues whether the brakes are used or not).

This is the worst car I have ever driven in the snow!

I have 22 years behind the wheel, and a few performance schools under my belt. I would gladly put dedicated snows on if it would fix this, but I feel that it something with the center diff. not working properly (hence the ratcheting sound). I have done a few searches on the subject, and it appears that it may have something to do with the way the auto tranny cars distribute power. I plan to change the fluid in the tranny, as buying the car used leaves me wondering if it has ever been done. I also plan to experiment with using the gear selector to engage 1st or 1st and 2nd only, during these low speed turns. It has been suggested in the past, that the auto tranny models provide a 50/50 torque split when in the 1st 2 gears (as opposed to the 90/10 when in "D".

Any other thoughts?

TIA,

Tod
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Old 12-22-2003, 09:25 AM   #5
sybir
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I've never noticed a problem with terminal understeer in snow/ice unless I'm going way too fast, or hammering it from a stop (in which case the back end steps around and I have no problems)

Try putting it in 1 or 2 to start off, you'll still get a little wheelspin, but it should be much better. Remember, the cars drive just like normal cars (especially the 4EAT's) when you're not on the gas, and it is a pretty heavy car without a ton of weight on the fornt wheels (most Subaru Legacy wagons have near 50/50 weight distribution) ......
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Old 12-22-2003, 09:28 AM   #6
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I noticed that RidinLow and I are driving BG's; I wonder whether it's just the weight of the bigger BH, or if there's some other difference in the center diffs that happeened with the new cars..... I've never heard anything like the chattering you're describing, even when doing stupid stuff like donuts, etc.
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Old 12-22-2003, 09:30 AM   #7
RidinLow
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Good point... do the 4EAT BG's have the electronic center diff like the newer cars?
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Old 12-22-2003, 10:02 AM   #8
rammer
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Man, you guys are great! I didn't expect such a decent response to what i thought might be a typical newbie question. My tires are Dayton Daytona HR M+S's. The tread pattern is unidirectional and they are really pretty decent in the rain.

My difficulties are definitely at low speed; 5-10 mph. The noises I get happen as the wheels tranfer power to each other. It's not a ratcheting but a thudding and slight jerking at each transfer of power. This was never noticeable in my manual tranny Impreza. The dealer said it was normal when i first asked but sometimes they'll say anything.

Yesterday and a partially covered street, I had the passenger tires on a strip of ice and the driver's side tires on asphalt. I gave it gas and noticed that the power did not consistently stay on the driver's side. In other words, i did seem to continue to slip somewhat. Maybe i should test drive a new one on the lot to compare the feel. I know the new OBs have awesome brakes!!

Dave
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Old 12-23-2003, 06:54 PM   #9
Paisan
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Hey guys, with the 4EATs you need to apply THROTTLE in order to get out of those skid situations. By applying throttle, you will force the electronic center diffy to redirect power to the rear wheels and your plowing will stop. It is counter to anything you would normally do in a car, but the electronic diffy system can't react when no power is being applied. I have been driving OBs, Legacies, SVXs, XT6s for years with the 4EAT and it's just a technique you need to learn.

-mike
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Old 12-23-2003, 07:11 PM   #10
rammer
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Thanks Mike! We're supposed to get snow on Christmas so I'll play around this weekend and see if I can get a handle on things. I wish there was a High Performance driving school for the snow!

Dave
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Old 12-24-2003, 12:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Paisan
Hey guys, with the 4EATs you need to apply THROTTLE in order to get out of those skid situations. By applying throttle, you will force the electronic center diffy to redirect power to the rear wheels and your plowing will stop. It is counter to anything you would normally do in a car, but the electronic diffy system can't react when no power is being applied. I have been driving OBs, Legacies, SVXs, XT6s for years with the 4EAT and it's just a technique you need to learn.

-mike
that's what I do in mine. Start sliding? give her a lil gas and the tail slide right where it should be...Not too abrupt, not too harsh, just right
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Old 12-24-2003, 07:50 AM   #12
RidinLow
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There is a high performance school for snow driving... I think it's called Team ONeill (sp?) or something up in the NE.
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Old 12-25-2003, 01:39 AM   #13
Paisan
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Yup give that gas a try you'll like it. You should see what happens if I let off the gas in the SVX in the snow with 245-45-16 tires, 3650lbs... Not a pretty pic. But if I nudge that throttle, she straightens right out.

-mike
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Old 12-25-2003, 09:38 AM   #14
OhBe1
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Rammer. yours is an auto, right?
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Old 12-25-2003, 01:53 PM   #15
rammer
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Yep, it's an auto. I think I'll save up for winter driving school next year.

dave
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Old 12-25-2003, 10:48 PM   #16
Paisan
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Any chance you'd like to meet up with the 48hrs of Tri-state crew who will be rolling through rochester Jan 2? Check out http://AZPInstalls.com/48hrs-04 for details.

-mike
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Old 12-30-2003, 11:43 AM   #17
d4d4d4d4
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Try disconnecting the front sway bar and possibly the rear too and attach them to the body with string or zip ties. This will give you much more turning traction. Also try putting lots of weight on the rear seats (cinder blocks, wood, mother in-law). Another thing. Try letting some air out of all 4 tires. They will grip better when soft, but not too soft. This is what I do with my car, hope it helps!
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Old 12-30-2003, 11:19 PM   #18
Keith99RS
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I go with the give it some juice opinion people. Give it some gas and let the electronics tranfer the traction. Also (at least in MT models, I can't speak for AT's) yanking the e brake on these cars is a bad idea. It has been shown to put lots of stress on the center diff leading to failure.
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Old 01-15-2004, 06:54 AM   #19
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Plow King or MR.Plow ?? HAHAHAHA
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Old 01-15-2004, 12:24 PM   #20
rammer
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Well, we've had quite a bit of snow lately. I've slowed down a bit on entry to turns and tend toward a late apex and staying on the inside line on turn exits. When i detect understeer, i tap the accelerator off and on to slightly pull out of the plow. If i give more than a slight tap, i lose traction on the front tires and the plowing just continues. I really think that snow tires are the key!!

dave
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Old 01-15-2004, 07:43 PM   #21
RidinLow
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Yep, getting on the gas during an understeer condition unloads the front tires while sending power to them, causing them to lose whatever grip they had.
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Old 01-22-2004, 12:05 AM   #22
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GAS OFF-APEX- FLOOR IT! Point is: Slow down before entering the turn, I bought tires at pep boys VR M&S {mud and snow-always get these unless you have a summer set} rated these wagons are great in the snow. I can control mine driving sideways
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Old 01-22-2004, 06:42 AM   #23
rammer
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BLUJI, I have been slowing alot more prior and slightly before inititial turn-in. Then I'm off everything and at the apex, i start getting back on it. If i floor-it at the apex, the front tires break loose again and i plow. Also, coming toward the apex, if i find the car pointed too far to the outside, I've been blipping the throttle to shift weight to the back and then suddenly to the front. This breaks the back tires loose a little and i get some oversteer to help re-set my direction. Gas comes back on then. Remember, I have all-seasons on there. I wish i had snows...

dave
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Old 01-22-2004, 08:00 AM   #24
RidinLow
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If you had a rear LSD, the tail would definitely come around if you gas it in midcorner like that. I've noticed that my open diff'd Outback doesn't always reliably rotate like my 2.5RS/WRX/M3/S2000 would (all those other cars have rear LSD's). I once drove a rental V6 Mustang with an open diff in the snow and the tail wouldn't always come around under power. It would just spin the inside rear.
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Old 01-21-2007, 09:46 PM   #25
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My 2006 Outback is terrible in the snow when there is weight in the car. They say it's because my tires have a low PSI, NOT! Checked the PSI and it was fine. It only does it with 4 people in the car with cargo. It drives like a sled on the snow. I am trading it in!
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