All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service

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Subaru FAQ # 8 Q. Can I put Snow Tire Chains on My Subaru?

Q. Can I put Snow Tire Chains on My Subaru?


A. You need to consult your owners manual for specific information about the model and year Subaru you currently own. Many modern vehicles, Subaru’s included just don’t have enough clearance to accommodate tire chains. There are companies that provide tire chains in the aftermarket such as Thule that have a low profile design, but even then I have never seen one that claims to fit everything, so if you do elect to give one of these sets a try please be careful.

Unless the owners manual specifically states chains are ok, you are taking a big risk installing a set of chains on your Subaru.

Potential issues include the chain making contact with the brake hose, strut, or ABS sensor. If this was to occur you make lose the ability to stop the car.

If the chains becomes loose it could make contact with the body of the vehicle doing serious damage and creating a safety issue.

Your best bet is traction tires if you travel in inclement weather frequently. A set of Snow and Ice Tires mounted on a spare set of wheels is really the best option as the tires will last the longest this way and make it easier to put the street tires back on when you’re not in inclement weather.

If you have had good luck with a particular set of chains on a later model Subaru Please Share Below.

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3 Responses

  1. My 2013 Crosstrek manual, page 8-11, states, “When tire chains cannot be used, use of another type of traction device (such as spring chains) may be acceptable…” “Make certain that any traction device you use is a SAE Class S device, and use it on the front wheels only.”

    I had good luck with Security Chain Company’s Super Z6 chains (these exceed Class S specs) on my 2005 Outback, and I plan to try them on the Crosstrek. My question: I have always understood that putting traction devices on all four wheels on a Subie is better than only doing two. However, my Crosstrek manual specifically states that the devices should be used “on the front wheels only.” Can you explain this? Thank you!

    1. Hello Bianca,

      The rear doesn’t have enough clearance, the chains could come apparent and tear the brakes lines open causing brake loss.

      Now this is worst case but a very unsafe one.

      Justin

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