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1999 Subaru Forester 5 Speed Manual
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Hey y'all.

By reading that, you can imagine that I'm not familiar with snow in general. I'm from the south and life shuts down when it snowed down there.

I just recently moved to the Pacific Northwest. Before leaving the southeast, I bought my first Subaru Forester and I love this car. It's a 1999 model and I'd like to get your opinions on snow tires, normal tires and how you folks handle this whole process.

My everyday tires are reaching the end of their life and I'm on the search for a good new set. My job keeps me in the woods and along rocky, muddy, forest service roads on a very regular basis, so please consider this when you make suggestions. I would love to hear your suggestions on the types and brands of tires you recommend for this type of everyday use.

Do you have a preference on types or brands of snow tires? I'm assuming I will need to change these out when the season is over. What is your process like with this? Do you let garage/shop store your tires and they switch them out every year or do you buy a second set of rims and do this yourself? Do you use chains and what are your thoughts on chains with or without snow tires.

Thanks you for your time. Any and all of your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Charlie
 

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2014 Forester XT 8 speed
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Unlimited Budget:

Nokian Hakka 7's

Limited Budget

Kumho KW22 studded.

Both are awesome tires, and they have large enough voids that while they are a great ice tire, they can clear the snow that builds up in the treads better than something like a blizzak.
 

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2014 Impreza Premium 2.0 AT w/ Manual Mode
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I have Blizzaks and they work just fine for me. Lot's of people have studs around here but in Washington you have to put on/ take off by certain dates even if the snow falls outside of the times. IDK about Oregon so you should check on that. You've got AWD so your better off than most but if your tires are nearing the end of their life I suggest you get a new set. Also consider a dedicated snow/summer set of wheels, less of a hassle and more cost effective. Check in at local tires shops as well to see what they suggest and what others in your area are running, this is one of the best ways to gauge what kind of tire you'll need where your located.
 

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2014 Forester Ltd. CVT
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I bought studded tires because I encounter a lot of ice with temperatures close to freezing. There are a lot of winter tires out there with strengths and weaknesses in different conditions. Find out what you are most likely to experience (freezing rain, heavy snow, thick ice, slush, black ice) and start researching. Some people will claim that the General Altimax Arctic is the best winter tire; that may be true for their climate but may not be the best choice for you.
If you live in a colder climate it is definitely a good idea to invest in a winter tire. Winter tires are so much better than ATs in cold weather.
I live in a place that allows studs during certain months and I will get a ticket if I have them on too early or too late. It would be easier for me to use non studded tires but I choose to use studs because they provide a safer drive for me in my climate.
It is a good idea to buy another set of rims for your winter tires. I've seen tire shops charge between $50-$80 for a tire changeover and sometimes it's hard to get appointment. In the long run you will save money and hassle if you buy a second set of rims.
 

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2014 Forester Ltd. CVT
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SE Alaska and Portland do not share a lot of the same conditions. Here in the PNW we don't really need snow tires unless you are heading up to the mountains a lot to go skiing. Then separate winters might be worth it. Blizzaks aren't the head of the pack anymore, check tirerack.com. If you're not heading to the mts, get something with tolerable snow ratings for year around use, e.g., pirelli p7 +.
 

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2014 Forester 2.5i CVT
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SE Alaska and Portland do not share a lot of the same conditions. Here in the PNW we don't really need snow tires unless you are heading up to the mountains a lot to go skiing. Then separate winters might be worth it. Blizzaks aren't the head of the pack anymore, check tirerack.com. If you're not heading to the mts, get something with tolerable snow ratings for year around use, e.g., pirelli p7 +.
Speaking of Pirelli P7 All Season Plus. If you read through user reviews very few had a chance driving in snow therefore I find snow rating a bit suspect. Also, tirerack test found that P7 did not stop well in wet conditions.
 

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I'm hoping General RT43's live up to their design. Not enough reports for me, but if they have any snow power, these would be perfect for the PNW lowlands
 

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2016 Outback and WRX CVT
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My job keeps me in the woods and along rocky, muddy, forest service roads on a very regular basis, so please consider this when you make suggestions.
I'd go for an A/T tire instead of a winter tire.

If you're dead-set on winter tires, I'd go for a traditional "studdable" winter tire and skip the studs unless you really must have ice traction (and that your ice is encountered right around the freezing point). The reason for this is because "studdable" winters often offer a harder compound than either the "Performance Winters" or the "Studless Ice & Snow" sub-genres. Even then, I fear the tread may not last long given your unpaved roads use.
 

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For studdables, I'd go for general altimax arctics... except you can't get them for love or money at the moment. Also, someone mentioned that you can trade in your yokos for geolander a/t s; there's thread about this recently.
 

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'19 Forester LTD CVT
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Altimax Artics are FANTASTIC especially for the price. As far as 16in Non studded Snow tires, it is Tire Racks highest rated snow tire, and one of the cheaper ones. They are tested up here in Minnesota too!
 

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I'd go for an A/T tire instead of a winter tire.

If you're dead-set on winter tires, I'd go for a traditional "studdable" winter tire and skip the studs unless you really must have ice traction (and that your ice is encountered right around the freezing point). The reason for this is because "studdable" winters often offer a harder compound than either the "Performance Winters" or the "Studless Ice & Snow" sub-genres. Even then, I fear the tread may not last long given your unpaved roads use.
The latter assertions are based in-part on both past North American as well as Russian winter tire tests, in which the responsible parties speculated that the harder compound "studdable" tires fared better in virtually all objective performance factors when there's no actual wintry precip. on the roadways.

And towards the consideration of wintry precipitation -

There are a lot of winter tires out there with strengths and weaknesses in different conditions. Find out what you are most likely to experience (freezing rain, heavy snow, thick ice, slush, black ice) and start researching.
^ That really is the long and short of it.

With current technology, there's no one tire that can do it all.

If you used my screen-name as a search parameter, and crossed that with the term "winter," you'll see that winter tires are kinda a hobby of mine. :icon_razz::icon_redface:

:icon_arrow: Subaru Forester Owners Forum - Search Results

I will be the first to say that what modern winter tires - given that you chose the right sub-type for the conditions that you are specifically wanting to prepare against - can perform some rather amazing feats, the truth of the matter remains that they are still a compromise. Take into account what your neighbor said:

Here in the PNW we don't really need snow tires unless you are heading up to the mountains a lot to go skiing. Then separate winters might be worth it.
Think of tires as shoes.

You wouldn't want to wear what you'd wear to a black-tie wedding to go on a multi-day hike in the backwoods or to go through TSA and then sprint through the airport with, would you?

Yes, I might regret that I'm wearing my minimalist runners when my plane crashes in the middle of the mountains :lol:, but hey, you get my drift.

With your off-road use, I'd start off by looking at an A/T tire that has decent snow capabilities. After the first storm and/or as you start wearing the tire's tread, if you find snow capabilities to be diminished, you may want to consider manual siping, if your tire can handle it. As an added precaution because you will be off the beaten path, I would also carry some traction-enhancers such as chains/low-profile chains, tire socks, lightweight traction board(s), and/or a bag of kitty litter and a shovel - even if you had winter tires.

Truthfully, I would only consider winter tires for your use if you specifically were more worried about on-road conditions or otherwise had very specific considerations (i.e. that parts of your off-road experiences will take you over significant stretches of hardpack, in which case a good studded tire can certainly help).
 

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2006 Subaru Baja Sport 5 speed
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Places like Seattle and Portland are full of hills, and the we get the wet kind of ice. The kind of snow and ice conditions we get out here are different than somewhere like the Midwest, or East. All-seasons are fine on a little bit of snow, but absolutely suck on ice. I have Michelin IceX2 on mine, and they do fine all around, but you won't stop if you're going down a steep icy hill. You'll maintain directional control, but that's it. It won't do you any good if you're trying avoid hitting something, or someone. Next time I'm going with studded winter tires.
I'm with all the other folks here in suggesting that you get a winter tires. Anyway, Portland seems to be prone to getting hit with freezing rain.
Many of you may have already seen this video clip, but it was from a winter storm that hit Portland a few years ago. It doesn't always get this bad, but when it does, this is what you can look forward to.
 

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^ If ice is the OP's primary worry, and the temperatures are right around freezing, then yes, a studded tire is the way to go.

However, he needs to balance that desire with his proportion/weight of off-road driving.

As I've always said - are you preparing for the worst possible 25%, or the most common 75%?

There is no easy answer. It's a compromise no matter which side of that equation you land on.

I think that many place too much emphasis on winter tires simply because they perform so much better when there's wintry precip. on the ground that it's easy forget that the tires do not perform as well as even "All Seasons" when they are taken out of those elements. For those seeking winter tires for performance/safety, they must realize that the performance/safety they seek is compromised once the winter tire is taken out of that context.

It's up to the individual end-user to really sort through what they want in the tire. No tire - yet - can do it all.
 

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re: "My job keeps me in the woods and along rocky, muddy, forest service roads on a very regular basis"

I would suggest Firestone Winterforce. They are pretty beefy and everywhere so they'd be easy to replace. They aren't "performance" winter tires that's why I suggest them. We have them on 2 out of 3 cars. And they aren't the most expensive.
 

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seafajr, the big piece of information missing in your post is, how often does portland get hit by these ice storms? Studded tires may be the only way to get around during these events, but if they only hit once or twice a season it's really silly to drive around on studs for the rest of the time. The other option is to maybe just not go out when an ice storm like this hits?
 

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You're right, I failed to mention that we really only get hit with these kinds of storms every few years, but when they hit, they can hit hard. Generally our winters are mild, and when it does snow, if it doesn't just turn to slush, it packs down into ice. We usually only get one or two snow events a winter and they only last about a day, or two.
A lot of folks here run their winter tires, studded, and studless, all winter long regardless of conditions.
There is no one size fits all solution for everyone, but I still believe winter tires are the way to go, studded or studless.
You can do like I do, and get a set on rims and put them on whenever there is a threat of snow, and take them off when it warms up and the threat has passed, but for me that means putting them on and off 2-3 times a winter. Unless you have time and patience for that, it's really not going to be a practical solution for most folks. It does make them last a lot longer.
 

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yup, I'd really care less about wear and worry more about driving around the vast majority of time with winter tires in non-winter conditions where an allseason or performance winter tire would be better suited, particularly at interstate speeds.
 

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In that case, if someone is going to drive around with winter tires mostly in non-winter conditions, and is more concerned about handling, studless would be the better choice. A panic stop with studs on bare pavement can be a bit scary. They all have their pros and cons. Of course, most states ban studded, so for most of the country, the studded/studless debate is a moot point.
 

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In that case, if someone is going to drive around with winter tires mostly in non-winter conditions, and is more concerned about handling, studless would be the better choice. A panic stop with studs on bare pavement can be a bit scary.
^ If this is the case, then you've got a really bad set of studded tires.

Modern studded tires perform no worse under such conditions than modern "Studless Ice & Snow" tires, and in many cases, perform even better as temperatures warm due to the really specialized compounding of the "Studless Ice & Snow" tires being so soft that it's "maximal effort" is less than what the studded tires' more robust compound can provide.

This has been borne out in quantitative testing in various highly-regarded overseas tests, including those conducted by the Finnish (NAF), Russian (Auto Review), and German (ADAC) - data gathered over the past half decade, at least.

The tire's performance is dependent on much more than simply whether if it is studded versus not. One can no longer apply the "old-think" of "snow tires" to modern winter tires.

I explored some of these same concerns in this thread:

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f72/do-studs-change-speed-rating-tire-63168/

The only reasons to avoid studded tires are (1) for your own NVH concerns, (2) legality (particularly of tire-change-over-timing [for many of us this year, we've seen some rather unseasonably early snowfall and wintry conditions, for example] and interstate travel), and (3) to ease your conscience about road-damage.

Of course, most states ban studded, so for most of the country, the studded/studless debate is a moot point.
Again, this is not true:

Studded Tires | AAA/CAA Digest of Motor Laws

You're right in that there's pros and cons to every tire choice - but such assessments must be made based on data.

For as much as an "All Season" is compromised during winter, a winter tire is the same when it's out of its element. One needs to realize that "safety" and "performance" are interchangeable terms. Yes, you can certainly drive a tire out of its element but still well within its performance envelope - but what's going to happen in case of emergency, when you cannot, by definition, dictate just how much tire you will use? Given that an "All Season" tire will likely perform much better overall than any of the "Studless Ice & Snow" winter tires when there is no frozen precipitation on the ground, can it thus not be said that for those who drive the majority of their time in conditions where there is no such precipitation that an "All Season" tire is actually "safer?"

Logic doesn't stop when the scenario is reversed, and one must take that into account.

The choice boils down to whether the driver wishes to prepare more for the worst possible, or to be best prepared for the most common of conditions. Here, there is no right or wrong for this decision, for each involves the same compromise. There is only a better/worse fit - and that fit is unique to the individual, who must critically assess his/her unique needs and wants, and what they are willing to compromise.
 

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Of course, most states ban studded, so for most of the country, the studded/studless debate is a moot point.
you might want to look into that a little more. I know up here I can use studs anywhere in canada even though it is not legal in all provinces. IE, as long as it is legal in your home province. The only exception is road specific requirements. Alot of roads from alberta to BC, have mandatory winter tire/chain requirements in the winter, which applies to EVERYONE.
 
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