I Own A Subaru, Do I Need Snow Tires?

Driving your Subaru in the snow, what kind of tires should you have?

There are of course going to be many opinions on this, but here is my take. With some facts sprinkled in just for fun.

There really is just no substitute for a good set of snow tires, and with the clearances on modern Subaru vehicles not allowing for the use of snow chains (Fact), really snow tires are your only option. Now I know that in some states the DOT (Department of Transportation) will state on physical signs, tweets, web pages etc. that “Chains Are Required” during times of heavy snowfall. What many don’t realize however, and depending where you live, it merely means that you must have chains in the car, not necessarily installed on your Subaru and that in many states AWD equipped vehicles are exempt from this (Fact).  Now having said this you will need to check with the DOT where you live, but make sure you read the entire rule or RCW and read it twice. 

Here is a snippet and a link to  the WSDOT (Washington State Department Of Transportation)

“Four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles are exempt from chain requirements when all wheels are in gear and are equipped with approved traction devices, provided that tire chains for at least one set of drive tires are carried in the vehicle. See WAC 204-24-050.”

Back to whether you need snow tires on your Subaru in the snow. Yes, if you care about safety, and yes if thats the only thing that meets your states criteria for approved traction devices.  

There are not too many instances in which after some sort of an accident in the snow or ice,  that you will ever say to yourself, “if I could have just gotten going a little faster this would have been better” no, accidents usually occur because you couldn’t steer or slow down in the Inclement Weather.  Snow tires provide traction, not just under power, but under braking and while steering which are the two most important times to actually have traction.

Now a good AWD system such as found in your Subaru, can provide superior traction under power, but it’s not really going to do much while braking and steering to keep you out of the ditch, that is where snow tires come in. Snow tires in many situations are more important than All Wheel Drive, because better traction under all situations is really what’s important.

I understand that it’s really not popular to have to shell out the money for a set of snow tires, this is especially true if it’s really only for a one time trip, but it’s really the single best option for you and your Subaru. 

What if a service existed where you could rent a set of snow tires mounted on wheels for the weekend? Show up to the shop on a Friday, the shop installs the snow tires and wheels, registers the TPMS so there are no annoying lights on, you head over the pass with the family in confidence, return on a Monday,  the shop installs your all season tires and your wheels back on your Subie and you did not have the huge expense of buying a set of snow tires for a once or twice a year concern, just a rental fee.

We are currently looking into providing this service for the 2018-2019, Fall and Winter Seasons. We would love your input.

Thanks for reading


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4 Responses to I Own A Subaru, Do I Need Snow Tires?

  1. Scott January 26, 2018 at 11:24 am #

    This is a great video to illustrate the point on snow tires. TireRack did tests on an ice rink between summer, all seasons and snow tires.

  2. bill February 19, 2018 at 6:10 pm #

    I have a 2010 Impreza hatch which is All Wheel Drive. The manual says i cannot put chains on the car. I am planning to drive in the snow and do not have snow tires. I’d rather not buy four tires for just one trip since I live in bay area and don’t normally need them. Will chains damage the impreza? The manual says the tire is too close to the wheel hub. Thanks.

    • Justin Stobb February 20, 2018 at 4:29 pm #

      Hello Bill,

      Yes it is correct that on a 2010 Subaru Impreza you cannot put tire chains on without the risk of damage. I would look into the alternatives such as the Auto Sock for your Subaru.

      Hope that helps


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