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Discussion Starter #1
It seems that I have discovered a way to counter the annoying, unsafe and often unsettling tendency of the turbo Forester to oversteer on snow and ice.

Don't get me wrong, I know that oversteer is faster than understeer, but when it gets to the point where it's as bad as a RWD, you it kind of defeats the purpose of AWD.

The basic problem comes from the forester's understeer in dry tarmac and schemes/driving style to try to correct it. From early on in my ownership experience, I would overinflate all the tires, particularly the fronts (like F40-42, R35 psi's). This would actually improove dry and even wet cornering on tarmac surface. It never crossed my mind that accentuating oversteer could create so many problems in snow. Well, I was wrong.

I hadn't driven the forester in a while and nobody had checked the tire pressures. When I ventured to do so, I found pressures to be in the mid to high 20's in all 4 tires when cold. Since this was about a month ago in December, I thought that perhaps a lower inflation pressure could help with snow traction. It did bother me a little because I know that the forester isn't the best handling vehicle, but it was understeering in the dry worse than ever. Snow-wise, however, it prooved to be a major revelation.

Although under enough power, the rear end still broke loose, it was much harder to do so and much less extreme. I could give it much more gas in a corner; I practically had to in order to win understeer but in so doing I could take corners faster and more safely than ever before.

Then I noticed that my tire sidewalls are already worn (from before, I believe this is a Subaru defect accentuated by the bad quality of the Geos), so I decided to re-inflate the tires to my old system of low 40's front mid 30's rear. As predicted, dry tarmac handling was much more crisp. Unfortunately, the next snow had me drivng in a frantic fashion. I wasn't going fast or recklessly, but even the slightest throttle application in every corner (sometimes even at 10mph or less!) caused severe oversteer. A couple of times the rear end fishtailed to and fro and it took me quite a while to restore traction, at times driving with quite a level of oversteer for a prolonged distance despite very slow speed (we're talking <25 mph). It was really scary because I had to ease my right foot to give enough throttle to restore traction as complete lift off aggravated it and I almost spun out and it took a long time to find that point and even more to regain straightline momentum. All the while I would not have been able to control the vehicle in the event of an emergency. Again, it was that RWD feeling. For the first time in my life, I found myself wishing for a stability control system!

I don't have time to keep switching inflation pressures, and I think I will stay with my old system, especially seeing as how I want my tires to last a little longer. However, to all those who had bad experiences with snow traction, try taking those tire pressures down to the recommended vehicle levels. And if you don't mind a little understeer, you might want to stay there permanently. As far as snow handling, the safety, traction and even potential speed to be gained was more than I could ever imagine!!!
 

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2010 FXT Limited 4EAT Sport Shift
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Nuvolari-
You've gone from one to the other...find balance, it's not far away.
-Quick
 

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K.I.T.T. meet A.L.I.C.E.
2008 Forester XT 4EAT
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A good set of snow/ice tires would go a long way to helping with that issue.
 

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'03 XS MT PSM
2015 Ford Focus ST
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techy101 said:
A good set of snow/ice tires would go a long way to helping with that issue.
Yup... I have my Nokian's set at 32 all around and they hook up nicely on snow and ice. It's actually hard to get them to break loose.
 

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98 Forester...what else
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mikebike357 said:
Yup... I have my Nokian's set at 32 all around and they hook up nicely on snow and ice. It's actually hard to get them to break loose.
I don't know about you, but I'm not Paul Eklund (or one of his peers). I'm not sure I'd want to even TRY to break the rear end loose in the snow, EVER!!
 

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Mr. September 2008
2007 Legacy Automatic
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Sure you would, but not all the time, like you wouldn't want to set up your car to perform that way, but in certain instances with great care, or in an open parking lot with a little less care. :p
 

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K.I.T.T. meet A.L.I.C.E.
2008 Forester XT 4EAT
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Roo said:
I don't know about you, but I'm not Paul Eklund (or one of his peers). I'm not sure I'd want to even TRY to break the rear end loose in the snow, EVER!!

Normally...not a chance.
But it does come in real handy during ice racing, or during evasive manuvering. Sometimes the only way to make it around a corner when you realize that you don't have enough traction is to swing the rear end around. It's now recommended as a driving style, and is probalby very dangerous to do on a regular basis, but it's saved my butt once this winter when it was a choice between that, or plowing straight through the intersection into stopped cars.

*But I've also been taking performance winter driving clases with the local BMW CCA chapter, and been taught how to do it properly on a closed road course with an instructer in my passenger seat. (not that it makes it any less dangerous to do on a public road, just a better cance of executing it)
 
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Is it just the turbo that causes that problem? I have been driving a forester since 99 and don't have the problems Nuvolari seems to have. My husband even gave up his truck to drive a forester after being unable to get it to react in snow and ice the way his pickup did. I have been driving in rural areas and to ski mountains and have had no problem anywhere and that's with factory tires. We drive Subarus particularly because they are better than most other rigs in bad conditions.
 

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mikebike357 said:
Yup... I have my Nokian's set at 32 all around and they hook up nicely on snow and ice. It's actually hard to get them to break loose.
Yes same here, I have Nokian RSI on winterwheels.
32 in all 4.
No problem with rear breakin out, unless Im too hard on trottle.
Understeer when going too fast. :D
Never had oversteer, I have stock rear sway bar and endlinks as they work well in winter.

So, use good tyres, get a light rightfoot and use a higer gear.

The Forester is very predictable in snow as long as you have same traction on all wheels.
 

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1998 Forester "S" lifted. Bog-o-matic
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Roo said:
I don't know about you, but I'm not Paul Eklund (or one of his peers). I'm not sure I'd want to even TRY to break the rear end loose in the snow, EVER!!
Ironically enough I just spent the weekend doing that very thing :D





*Not me, I was spectating and driving to the event like an idiot.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think it's just the turbo that has this problem, and even then only if you set it up for oversteer by overinflating the fronts.

Problem is once the fronts slip all the power goes back and it becomes very RWD. Oversteer is usually good, and I do agree that sometimes the only way to make it around a really bad corner (such as powdered snow on top of ice) is with a little oversteer. Too much oversteer makes the car undriveable though. If one devotes most of the driving effort to correcting the oversteer and can only give a tiny little bit of gas before that happens, it not only slows you down but it's downright dangerous. By keeping the tires at the manufacturer's recommended, you can really lay on the throttle before the rear end breaks and when it does, it's so much more controllable. You can almost drive it with just one hand on the wheel; not so with higher pressures!

On the other hand I drive in snow maybe 10-20 days a year tops; I don't think dedicated snow tires would be worth it seeing as how I am in tarmac the other 350. This seems even less neccessary in light that changing the pressures helps as much as it does. Seeing how there have been quite a few posts about difficulties in the snow, I thought I might compare my experience with the public forum.

Has anyone else done the same and found a difference?
 

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Nuvolari said:
Problem is once the fronts slip all the power goes back and it becomes very RWD.
Yep, you are then a passenger in a sled going stright ahead. :-/
So you better fix it fast :D
 

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Roo said:
I don't know about you, but I'm not Paul Eklund (or one of his peers). I'm not sure I'd want to even TRY to break the rear end loose in the snow, EVER!!
I was fooling around and trying to see the limits of the Forester in the snow in a parking lot(empty) rear end under heavy acceleration breaks easily but under normal to moderate will give warning(to get off the gas so much) before it swings around. so I think you have to just watch it and ease into the throttle more so when slipperry than normal in the Forester...its just the war the AWD system works(on a automatic 2001). now that said on my wifes Mazda TRribute the AWD system is probably mostly biased to Front WD and you can basicaly floor that thing from a stand still and it will just go straight I cant GET that thing to swap ends(unless I do e brake turns :) )
 

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Like C Bennett says, the thing to remember in snow (and everywhere else, I guess) is smooth inputs. The easiest way to get yourself in trouble with AWD is to make abrupt changes. Keep a steady throttle, add and reduce power smoothly and slowly. One big reason you'll see a lot of oversteer in slick conditions is unweighting the back end too quickly, making it swing a lot easier. Unfortunately, that usually happens when you're already out of control and slamming on the brakes.

On dry pavement, having the rear pressures a little lower than the front will increase oversteer, but I can't say how much that effect is exaggerated in snow, or if the reverse would help. Once you've lost traction, tire choice matters very little. At that point it's all about getting your momentum under control.
 

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Roo said:
I don't know about you, but I'm not Paul Eklund (or one of his peers). I'm not sure I'd want to even TRY to break the rear end loose in the snow, EVER!!
I did it this weekend unintentionally. I thank God for my guardian angel daily now as we hit a snowbank and NO damage was done. A short time later a vehicle came round the bend and that scared me more.
 

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Well, I would like my car to allways oversteer, so that I know exactly what is going to happend. I was racing arround a frozen lake this weekend and sometimes the rear would slide out, very controlled, and sometimes it would just slide on the front wheels. I have noticed that the easiest and most secure way to make it oversteer is like on a Fwd car, ie release throttle and steer. The rear will then easily slide out, give it throttle and it would slide out nice and controlled.
 

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I am hopefully going to change my non-turbo for an XT. I have never had any problem on snow but having read this thread it looks like I may have with an XT.

I don't know how the turbo system works but would there be any way of stopping it coming on-boost other than driving very gently. I am thinking of a switch or some sort of vacuum line electric valve.
 

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2004 Forester XT Premium 4EAT
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agkq62 said:
I am hopefully going to change my non-turbo for an XT. I have never had any problem on snow but having read this thread it looks like I may have with an XT.

I don't know how the turbo system works but would there be any way of stopping it coming on-boost other than driving very gently. I am thinking of a switch or some sort of vacuum line electric valve.
Get an AccessPort and switch to economy mode in the snow?
 
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