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Subaru Outback/Legacy Tires and Wheels

I have a 2001 Subaru Outback that has the Firestone Wilderness Tire but no one has them. They have to be ordered. Is it the best tire for this car or can I go for another brand tire?


  • bpappasbpappas Posts: 2
    I recently purchased a '98 Legacy L wagon after test-driving several Outbacks. The Legacy has a manual, lower mileage, and was a cleaner car (with no leaking seals) than the Outbacks I drove. Plus, with slightly better fuel efficiency ratings, I am pleased with my purchase. However, one thing that attracted me to the Outbacks was the higher ground clearance and beefier tires. The reason for me moving from my trusty 240 wagon to a Sub was that I am moving to a mountainous area and want something that can hold the road better in winters. I am wondering if a regular Legacy can accept an Outback wheel and tire size - or if either the wheel wells do not allow enough clearance, or an Outback wheel needs mated with Outback suspension components. I am sure the brakes would require changing. I believe the Outback wheel is 16x5". Failing this, will the Legacy wheel accept a slightly wider tire? I once owned an Isuzu I-mark that would take a wider tire than factory, so I did this every time I replaced tires for about 6 high-mileage years. Any takers?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The actual wheel will fit, yes, they're both 5x100mm bolt pattern.

    The brakes are OK, going to a bigger wheel just gives you more room, even though you don't need it.

    The tires may not clear the rear strut base, though. The Outback's raised suspension leaves more clearance for the bigger tires.

    I thought Outbacks had 205/70R15 tires back then, though. I thought they went to a 225/60R16 on a 16" rim for MY2000. What is your stock size? 205/60R15, something like that?

    Use this tool to see how much the diameter will increase:

    You can probably go 10mm wider (6mm more radius on a 60 series tires), but not much more than that. There isn't much "slop" in a Subaru, they're relatively precise, so you have less wiggle room for that type of thing.

  • bpappasbpappas Posts: 2
    thanks, juice. i'm going to ask a dealer anyway, as i have to check w/ one about a couple of other minor things (how to secure a front licence plate bracket on a car w/o one - i'm not certain about the screwholes). i'm pretty sure the stock tire size is 185/70-14. i didn't write it down before posting, but searched it online and that jibes w/ my memory of what the sidewall indicated.

    you're right. the 16" spec i gave is actually, as it turns out, 2K up.

    the tire calculator gave no difference for the speedo - but the real problem, as you said, may be the struts or something else - just eyeballing, it doesn't look like it would have enough space to accept a 205/70/R15.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If it is indeed 185/70R14, the radius of the tire grows by a full inch.

    Take a peek at the rear wheel well, the distance from the top of the tire to the base of the springs. My guess is you don't have anywhere close to a full inch of play in that area.

    I had a stock size tire on a Foreser and went 10mm wider. That's less than half an inch, though, and only 6mm wider, and even then it's 3mm on each side.

    Yours would be 205-185=20mm wider, 10mm wider to each side, so nearly half inch closer to the suspension plus an inch higher. My guess is it would not clear.

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,985
    Any issue with taking some studded tires from my '97 Outback (205/15R70's) and moving them to a similar vintage Legacy? There didn't seem to be a whole lot of clearance with the M+S's on the Outback:

    imageSee more Car Pictures at

    Steve, Host
    SUVs and Speed Shop
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    There might be - the overall diamater of the tire is bigger, and the Legacy lacks the taller springs that the Outback has. You might get some rubbing in the wheel wells.

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,985
    Thanks Juice!
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,985
    Turned out the tires were for his wife's car, which is a Legacy Outback. :shades: I decided to get rid of my studs/wheels and went back to the compact space (hoping the new Yoko's won't get a flat anytime soon).
  • Try the several online retailers like TireRack. They all have search engines that allow you to enter your model and will bring up all the tire options that are available.
  • I bought a '97 Subaru Legacy Outback last May and I'm considering my future tire options when the set on the car wears out in the future.

    1. What kind of winter tires would you install

    2. What kind of all season tires would you intall and are winter tires overkill for an AWD?
  • Are the original tires still on the car? If so, replace them now because they are too old. Wear isn't the only factor when replacing tires as rubber gets very harder and dryer as it ages. 6 years is a good benchmark maximum age for tires.

    1) Depends on where you live and how you drive and what you are looking for as far as performance. Is comfort and quietness a high priority or is grip?

    2) AWD is only as good as the tires. If you can't get traction, then having AWD does no good, you just end up with 4 tires spinning instead of 2. AWD will make poor tires perform better, but only to a point. Again this also depends on where you live and how you drive. For me living in Iowa, snow tires are overkill because I just don't drive in snow that much, a good all season tire works just fine.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Pirelli Sottozero are my favorite 3-season winter tire. I run them from Nov to March on my cars.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The italian name alone makes it cool. ;)
  • I live in the south--Charlotte NC. Most of my driving is inner city--I only have 36,000 miles on the car and the original tires. We have mild winters-no snow or ice storms the past 2 years and from what they say of global warming that we can go buy palm trees now and plant them. Summer our temps are in the 90--100 during summer. 101 today. I would like a smoother ride primarily
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Sumitomo HTR+ is going to be the best all-season tire you'll find out there for the money.

  • Sounds like you could get by with a summer tire but many of those are performance oriented and tend to be noisey, stick with summer touring. If comfort is your priority, I would look on TireRack for a quiet touring or grand touring tire ignoring the snow/ice traction ratings.

    It also depends on how much you want to spend. Searching on TireRack for a 97 Outback yielded 24 tires with a price range of $46 to $107 each.
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    when I went from FWD cars with all seasons to AWD all season tires I thought it was great in the winter in the midwest, then I put on snowtires on the AWD and I have never used all seasons again in winter. the traction and braking are so much better.
    one great option is to use Nokian WR tires which are winter snowrated but can be run all year round. I use them as winter tires on my Legacy and all year round on my Tribeca and a minivan.
    The Turanza LS (NOT the ELs) are very good all seasons.
  • dougb10dougb10 Burlington, Ontario, CanadaPosts: 185
    I second the suggestion of Bridgestone Turanza LS-H tires.

    I have had them on our '05 Outback Limited ...dumped the original Potenza's after 1,500 the Turanza's. They give a smooth ride and are excellent in the rain and snow.

  • ddunbarddunbar Posts: 31
    Subaru and TireRack recommend replacing the OEM Bridgestone Turanza RE92s on our 2003 Legacy Wagon with other high performance tires. Since the fastest we've ever driven the car is 80 mph, is it worthwhile to consider a T rated tire given the price differentials compared to some of the better H rated tires?
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    there once was a time Legacy/outbacks came with T rated tires (my 92 L did) but not for about a decade now! Its not just a question of how fast you drive but what extra "reserve" capacity do you want. Many retailers will not put a lower rated tire on a car than what came as OEM for legal reasons. Its probably safe enough, after all, many winter tires are Q rated. Its your dime and your call but if you do a lot of highway driving especially in hot climates I would stick with H. IMO almost as important as speed rating is to try get something with an A temperature rating. The ideal tire from a safety viewpoint should be A traction and A temp rated.
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