Does Subaru Need Snow Chains? A Comprehensive Guide to Winter Driving

Does Subaru need snow chains? The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, including the specific model of Subaru, the severity of the winter conditions, and the driver’s experience level. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of using snow chains on Subarus, and we’ll provide some tips on how to decide whether or not they’re right for you.

Subaru’s all-wheel drive system is one of the best in the business, and it provides excellent traction in snow and ice. However, even with all-wheel drive, there are some situations where snow chains can be helpful. For example, if you’re driving in deep snow or on icy roads, snow chains can provide extra traction and help you to avoid getting stuck.

Winter Driving Conditions in Snow-Prone Areas

Driving in snowy conditions poses unique challenges and hazards that require extra caution and preparation. Snow-covered roads can be extremely slippery, reducing traction and making it difficult to control your vehicle. Reduced visibility due to snowfall or blowing snow can also impair your ability to see other vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles on the road.

Snow accumulation on your vehicle can further obstruct your view and affect its aerodynamics, potentially leading to stability issues.

Slippery Roads

Snow-covered roads can be extremely slippery, making it difficult to accelerate, brake, and turn safely. The reduced friction between your tires and the road surface can cause your vehicle to slide or skid, increasing the risk of accidents.

Reduced Visibility

Snowfall or blowing snow can significantly reduce visibility, making it difficult to see other vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles on the road. This can lead to collisions, especially at intersections or when changing lanes.

Snow Accumulation

Snow accumulation on your vehicle can obstruct your view and affect its aerodynamics. Snow on the windshield, windows, and mirrors can block your line of sight, while snow on the roof or trunk can alter the vehicle’s weight distribution and increase drag, potentially affecting stability and handling.

Subaru’s All-Wheel Drive System and Winter Performance

Does subaru need snow chains

Subaru’s reputation for exceptional winter performance is largely attributed to its symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD) system. This advanced system provides numerous advantages in snowy conditions, enhancing traction, control, handling, stability, and acceleration.

Power Distribution and Traction

Subaru’s AWD system distributes power evenly to all four wheels, ensuring that each wheel receives the optimal amount of torque for maximum traction. This is achieved through a center differential that splits the power between the front and rear axles, and a rear differential that further distributes the power to the individual rear wheels.

In snowy conditions, where traction is often limited, this system ensures that all four wheels are constantly engaged, providing a firm grip on the road surface and preventing slipping or sliding.

Handling and Stability

The symmetrical AWD system also enhances handling and stability in winter conditions. By distributing power evenly across all four wheels, the system reduces the tendency of the vehicle to oversteer or understeer, providing a more predictable and controlled driving experience.

Subaru vehicles are known for their excellent performance in snowy conditions, but the question remains: do they need snow chains? The answer depends on the severity of the weather conditions and the type of tires you have. If you’re planning to drive in deep snow or on icy roads, snow chains can provide extra traction.

However, if you have a Subaru with all-wheel drive and winter tires, you may not need snow chains. It’s always a good idea to check with your local Subaru dealership or mechanic to get their recommendation. While you’re there, you can also ask them about whether Subaru has stopped making the STI . That’s a question that many Subaru enthusiasts have been wondering about lately.

In slippery conditions, the AWD system helps to maintain the vehicle’s stability, preventing it from losing control or skidding.


Additionally, Subaru’s AWD system improves acceleration in snowy conditions. By providing power to all four wheels, the system reduces wheelspin and allows the vehicle to accelerate more smoothly and efficiently, even on slippery surfaces.

Snow Chains as an Additional Safety Measure

In extreme winter conditions, when snow and ice cover the roads, snow chains can provide an extra layer of safety and traction for your vehicle. They are designed to fit over your tires, creating a better grip on slippery surfaces and enhancing your vehicle’s performance in snow and ice.

Snow chains work by increasing the surface area of your tires, which provides more contact with the road. This increased contact helps to reduce slippage and improve braking performance on snow and ice. They are particularly effective in deep snow, where they can help your vehicle to maintain traction and prevent it from getting stuck.

When and How to Use Snow Chains

It is important to use snow chains only when necessary, as they can be noisy and can cause wear and tear on your tires. Generally, snow chains should be used when there is at least 6 inches of snow on the ground.

They should be installed on all four tires for optimal performance.

To install snow chains, follow these steps:

  1. Park your vehicle on a flat, level surface.
  2. Place the snow chains over the tires, making sure that the chains are properly centered.
  3. Tighten the chains according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Drive slowly and carefully with snow chains installed.

Once you have reached your destination, remove the snow chains and store them in a dry place until they are needed again.

Assessing the Need for Snow Chains on Subarus: Does Subaru Need Snow Chains

When navigating snow-covered roads, assessing whether or not to use snow chains on a Subaru is crucial for safety and performance. Factors to consider include:

  • -*Snow Conditions

    The type and depth of snow play a significant role. Packed snow may require less aggressive chains than deep, loose snow.

  • -*Road Conditions

    Icy or rutted roads demand more traction, necessitating chains with deeper links or aggressive patterns.

  • -*Vehicle Weight and Tire Size

    Heavier vehicles and wider tires require more aggressive chains for optimal traction.

  • -*Terrain

    Steep inclines or off-road situations may warrant chains even in moderate snow conditions.

  • -*Driving Habits

    Aggressive drivers or those navigating unfamiliar terrain may benefit from the added traction of snow chains.

Types of Snow Chains for Subarus

Various types of snow chains are available, each suited to specific Subaru models and driving conditions:

  • -*Ladder Chains

    Affordable and easy to install, these chains provide basic traction in light to moderate snow.

  • -*Cable Chains

    More durable and aggressive than ladder chains, they offer better traction on icy or packed snow.

  • -*Diamond Chains

    Premium chains with a diamond-shaped pattern, providing exceptional traction on severe ice and snow.

  • -*Self-Tensioning Chains

    Feature a self-adjusting mechanism, ensuring proper chain tension throughout the drive.

Drawbacks and Limitations of Snow Chains

While snow chains enhance traction, they come with potential drawbacks:

  • -*Increased Road Noise

    Chains can generate significant noise, especially at higher speeds.

  • -*Reduced Fuel Efficiency

    Chains add resistance, slightly reducing fuel economy.

  • -*Potential Damage

    Chains can damage roads or vehicle components if not installed or removed properly.

  • -*Limited Speed

    Driving with chains requires lower speeds to prevent damage.

Alternatives to Snow Chains for Enhanced Winter Performance

In addition to snow chains, there are other options to improve your Subaru’s winter driving performance.

Studded Tires

Studded tires have small metal studs that protrude from the tread. These studs provide additional grip on icy roads. However, studded tires can be noisy and can damage pavement. They are also illegal in some areas.

Winter Tires

Winter tires are designed with a softer rubber compound that remains flexible in cold temperatures. They also have a tread pattern that is designed for snow and ice. Winter tires provide better traction than all-season tires, but they are not as good as studded tires on icy roads.

If you’re wondering whether you need snow chains for your Subaru, it depends on the conditions you’ll be driving in. If you’re expecting to encounter deep snow or icy roads, then chains can be a good idea. However, if you’re only driving in light snow or on well-maintained roads, then chains may not be necessary.

Before you make a decision, it’s worth considering whether Subarus are expensive to fix. Click here to learn more about Subaru repair costs. Once you have a better understanding of the potential costs involved, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use snow chains on your Subaru.

Traction Mats

Traction mats are portable devices that can be placed under your tires to provide extra grip. They are made of a durable material that provides traction on snow and ice. Traction mats are easy to use and can be stored in your trunk.

Choosing the Right Solution

The best alternative to snow chains for your Subaru depends on your specific driving conditions and vehicle requirements. If you live in an area with severe winter weather, studded tires may be the best option. If you only occasionally drive in snow and ice, winter tires may be sufficient.

Traction mats are a good option for occasional use or for emergencies.

Although Subaru vehicles are renowned for their all-wheel drive capabilities, they may still require snow chains in extreme winter conditions. If you’re curious about Subaru’s involvement in other areas, you might wonder: did subaru make an anime ? While Subaru hasn’t produced any anime directly, they have collaborated on projects like the “Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World” series, showcasing their commitment to expanding their brand beyond automotive manufacturing.

Nevertheless, when navigating treacherous snowy roads, remember that snow chains remain a crucial consideration for Subaru vehicles.

Safety Precautions and Best Practices for Winter Driving

Ensuring your safety while driving in winter conditions is paramount. Here’s a comprehensive guide to essential safety precautions and best practices to help you navigate winter roads confidently:

Maintaining a Safe Following Distance

In winter driving conditions, it’s crucial to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead. Slippery roads and reduced visibility require more time to react and stop. Adjust the following distance based on road conditions, allowing ample space for safe maneuvering.

Adjusting Speed to Road Conditions

Speed limits are established for ideal driving conditions. During winter, it’s essential to adjust your speed to match the road conditions. Slow down on slippery roads, allowing for increased reaction time and better control over your vehicle.

Avoiding Sudden Maneuvers, Does subaru need snow chains

Sudden maneuvers, such as abrupt braking or swerving, can lead to loss of control on winter roads. Anticipate potential hazards and adjust your driving accordingly. Avoid sudden movements that could destabilize your vehicle.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter Driving

Before embarking on a winter drive, ensure your vehicle is prepared for the conditions. Check tire pressure, as underinflated tires can reduce traction. Inspect battery health, as cold temperatures can drain batteries. Ensure adequate fluid levels, including antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, and oil.


Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use snow chains on your Subaru is a personal one. If you’re not sure whether or not they’re right for you, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and use them.

Snow chains can be a valuable safety tool, and they can help you to stay safe on the road during winter.

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