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Old 12-17-2016, 04:16 PM   #1
sday88
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Default Winter Weather Driving

Hey all, need some help. I have a 2012 Base Impreza that I just bought a few months ago. I have brand new Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires. This is the first AWD car I have ever owned. Other than a Camaro in the early 90s, I have driven front wheel drive cars (all with similar all-season tires) and a 4x4 Ford Ranger (that I still have). I'm having some trouble that I need some input on. My car plowed through about four inches of snow on our fairly steep driveway the other day. No complaints there. However, what I've experienced is this... Whenever I encounter short sections of roads that have some windblown snow on them (and maybe some ice), my car feels like it "moving" on the snowy/icy surface. As if I'm just *this* close to completely losing control. Even my wife as a passenger could feel it. Kinda feels a little like fishtailing also. It also feels like what you experience when the wind is blowing your car really hard all over the place. I've never experienced this with any front wheel drive car I've had, or even my Ranger. Is this "normal"? Could it be because the rear wheels are also driving along with the front wheels? I really don't think it's because of my tires either. I have other friends who have these tires, and they've never had these problems in the snow.

Should I be driving with my traction control turned off? Is it all in my imagination? Anyone else experience this? Any tips on how to drive in these conditions? My wife has had an AWD Saturn Vue since she bought it new in 2004, and we've never experienced this in that car either. And I realize that her car is not full time AWD like my Impreza. Could that be the difference?

Even the other day driving home when the roads were wet and had some slush, there were some points where I really thought I was seriously just going to go spinning out of control. That concerns me driving this car. Maybe that part of the road had some ice on it and it was a legitimate slippage problem. But when I'm driving down a mostly clear road and I encounter a section that has some snow that's been recently blown onto it and I feel the car like it's starting to slide sideways and fishtail, it scares me to drive it.

Can anyone help me here?

Thanks!
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Old 12-17-2016, 04:40 PM   #2
drpoop
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Snow and slush deeper than a dusting moves your car around. Do not drive over it if you're not ready to control your car.

Depending on where you live you should probably just get a set of winter tires if it's really that bad.
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Old 12-17-2016, 04:49 PM   #3
Commander Keen
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You have the wrong tires for the conditions. You need winter tires for winter driving.

FWD cars don't apply power to the rear wheels, so they're the last to slip in snow. Their only job is to keep the car's tail planted.

AWD can be a liability with the wrong tires, as you found out. This is why I discourage people from buying AWD cars if they're not also willing to buy winter tires. You'd be far better off with FWD and winter tires.
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Old 12-17-2016, 07:02 PM   #4
DieselDorf
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AWD does not improve your handling or stopping in snow/ice it helps you get moving though.

Snow tires will allow for more grip.

I have heard that if your car is out of alignment that it can feel very unsafe on snow/ice.

And what keen said winter tires on fwd are generally a better option unless you live somewhere it snows a ton where AWD is more beneficial (only if you get snow tires too)
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Old 12-17-2016, 07:28 PM   #5
drpoop
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AWD does improve handling. You ever do some drifting in a snowy parking lot? Can't really do it nearly as easily in RWD, and it's really impossible to do it in FWD because there's 0 power going to the non-steering wheels. You can hold a drift for as much space as you're allowed when you're in a snowy parking lot with AWD.

But it's not going to make you able to go around corners faster, just possibly have a chance of getting out of a bad situation.
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Old 12-17-2016, 11:20 PM   #6
sday88
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So, if I'm driving down the road at say 40 mph and come to a section that has some snow on it, if I'm in a FWD car I drive through it with no issues at all, but if I'm in my AWD Impreza with he exact same tires on it, I'm going to nearly spin out of control? That doesn't make sense to me. I'm not going around a turn in the road or anything. It's a completely straight section of road. Literally the only difference is one car is FWD and the other is AWD. And I'm not trying to argue here, I'm trying to understand what's going on. I do realize that snow tires are better for conditions like this, but what I'm describing doesn't make sense.
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Old 12-17-2016, 11:39 PM   #7
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I don't believe that either, but I've never really driven a non-AWD much. But you can coast through deep snow and it will do the same thing. It's definitely not because it's AWD.

It's an extremely light car with fairly wide tires compared to some competing models. I've never had an issue with the car actually feeling like I was losing control.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:12 AM   #8
Commander Keen
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Is the car CVT? If so, disable the AWD and see if the handling improves.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:14 AM   #9
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If it does sell your car and get off the forum because you don't know how handling works if you think it works better in FWD mode lel

Keen, I just thought of something. Could the 0-60 possibly be significantly faster in FWD? I know the drivetrain is still there dragging, but there's less overall parasitic loss I'd think. Maybe something worth trying for fun some day. I don't think it's good to leave the car with AWD disabled, so I wouldn't drive like that all the time, but something worth testing for fun.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:45 AM   #10
Commander Keen
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but you have not driven another car with these tires in the same conditions, so you don't have much evidence that it's not the tires.

All seasons are typically mediocre in snowy conditions, but the fuel saving varieties tend to be especially poor.

Quote:
my car feels like it "moving" on the snowy/icy surface.
Winter tires have sipes and softer compounds to deal with this. While there could be something wrong with your car, 95% chance you're expecting too much from economy all-seasons.

Trying to squeak by on A/S tires when winter tires are virtually free in the long run is not a smart move. The slightest fender bender will wipe out any money you think you've saved with these tires.

Quote:
Keen, I just thought of something. Could the 0-60 possibly be significantly faster in FWD?
Doubtful and the launch might be worse.
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:51 AM   #11
Alaskansubaru
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A huge thing is the width of your tires as well as the overall design. The wider the tires means your distributing the same amount of weight over more surface area. As well as your tires probably arnt meant to dispel snow and ice form them. A good pair of siped tires would fix that. And depending on where you live federal makes the Himalayas which are some of the best studded tires I've used so far.
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:09 AM   #12
DieselDorf
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I would get your alignment checked.

If it's out of alignment it can pull like you are describing when you have one or more tires on a slippery surface

It should not do that normally.

And yes dr you are correct about he AWD handling I was speaking in a sense of AWD doesn't provide more grip.
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDorf View Post
I would get your alignment checked.



If it's out of alignment it can pull like you are describing when you have one or more tires on a slippery surface



It should not do that normally.



And yes dr you are correct about he AWD handling I was speaking in a sense of AWD doesn't provide more grip.


^ this.
It sounds like your car needs alignment done.
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Old 12-18-2016, 10:54 AM   #14
supertoast
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I really noticed this driving my dad's 2015 Forester running factory A/S tires a couple winters ago. Doing 50 on a blanketed highway with temps around 15F. Heck, I think it was more ice than snow.

Anyway we were shifting left and right ever so slightly, kind of like a you're-about-to-hydroplane kind of sensation. Was pretty freaky. Definitely slowed after I started feeling it.

I don't have any comparison with a FWD car to go off of though, that was the only time I really was in a situation like that.

Side note - we can disable AWD on our cars? Or did I misread? Is it just a fuse that needs pulled?
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:02 AM   #15
drpoop
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I think you need to add a fuse. Look in the service manual if you have it.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:12 AM   #16
binnkim
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I just drove on snow and paid attention to the corners and how the car feels when it slips. Now I know what you mean by its fish tailing, although I would have never perceived it as fish tailing until I read your post.

I "think" you are deceived by the power transfer from front to rear/rear to front as fish tailing. With FWD, once you lose the grip on rwd, the front wheels will pull the entire car out and straighten it. Or if the front wheels lose grip, then the car wheel simply go straight despite your steering input. Whereas with our cars, if front wheels lose grip, more power will go to the rear and the car will straightened out. Kind of think of it as counter steering the car but through the power transfer. And as it straightens out, it kind of feels like fish tailing. This is where more power will benefit the handling. I'd suggest before spending money on alignment or anything, find an empty parking lot with snow and try donut/corners and see how the car feels. Make sure to put down your foot when you think you are losing control.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:15 AM   #17
88horizon5speed
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i know older subaru models around the 90s had a place in the engine bay that you added a fuse to make it FWD.

Dont see why you would alter and AWD impreza to make it FWD to drive in the snow...if you think your better off with FWD then sell the impreza and buy another car! My 16 impreza is sweet in the snow! Ive had a RWD/4WD f150, then a FWD and now my impreza...I would never say my FWD was better in the snow than the impreza. Just drive slower if your sliding around. It is a light car without snow tires
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:20 AM   #18
drpoop
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Oh god... RWD in snow. Never going to happen again. Last month after a family member died, I was moving some of their belongings to a storage shed on another family member's property. Used their 2003(I think) F250, RWD. Tires with less than 2/32" of tread left. Even on the lightest throttle application, the rear end still wanted to spin around. I'll never know how he made it over 10 years with that thing in Minnesota winters.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:22 AM   #19
drpoop
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Swear I've read multiple times about a fuse in service manuals for the 2012.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:25 AM   #20
DieselDorf
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I drove a rwd jeep previously. That thing was redicukous in the snow. If I didn't get my speed up to about 60 before hitting a hill and coast up I would be spinning my tires sideways into the ditch.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:49 AM   #21
sday88
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Thanks for all of the responses. My car is a CVT. The alignment was just checked and it's well within specs, so that's not it. Correct, I have not used this exact tire before. However, I have two close friends that use these exact tires on their FWD cars. One of the cars is a Mazda 6. And yes, I also realize that there is a difference between using these tires on a FWD compared to an AWD. I live in Eastern Ohio and we don't get enough consistent heavy snow to warrant winter tires, in my opinion. I'm still just struggling with how on a long stretch of straight road, when it's completely clear and then I encounter a patch of windblown snow on the road, my car feels like it's about to lose control. It's not like I'm driving on completely snow covered winding roads. It's one small section of snow. Actually, it seems like the car is fine in completely snow covered roads, which is what I'd expect.
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:15 PM   #22
Commander Keen
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Quote:
However, I have two close friends that use these exact tires on their FWD cars. One of the cars is a Mazda 6. And yes, I also realize that there is a difference between using these tires on a FWD compared to an AWD.
They might not expect to be able to drive through a snowy road at 40 MPH without issues. Also, you mentioned your tires are new and traction is not at its best right off the shelf.

Quote:
I live in Eastern Ohio and we don't get enough consistent heavy snow to warrant winter tires, in my opinion. I'm still just struggling with how on a long stretch of straight road, when it's completely clear and then I encounter a patch of windblown snow on the road, my car feels like it's about to lose control.
Winter tires aren't just for snow. You'll benefit from improved traction in wet and dry conditions when it's cold, and again, long term cost is zero.
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Old 12-18-2016, 02:22 PM   #23
DieselDorf
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If it is enough snow where tires will push it up in ruts then the snow/slush alone is enough to pull your car around. I'm guessing this is the issue.

Nothing will fix this but slower speeds.
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Old 12-18-2016, 02:23 PM   #24
binnkim
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Another thing I'm noticing is mentioned instability when going straight with wind (whether snow or not) and you drive base model. Installing a rear sway bar can help a lot with stability at med-high speed. I'd recommend rear sway bar.
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Old 12-18-2016, 05:05 PM   #25
sday88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by binnkim View Post
Another thing I'm noticing is mentioned instability when going straight with wind (whether snow or not) and you drive base model. Installing a rear sway bar can help a lot with stability at med-high speed. I'd recommend rear sway bar.
Thanks, I'll look into that.
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