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Subaru Legacy/Outback Tire Issues



  • Thanks! I didn't even think about the spare.... :)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm gonna agree with Juice. I had this on my Armada with TPMS. If they are only slightly low driving will heat em up and turn em off and when checked after warm, they'll read "ok".

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • I'm looking to buy a 09 Outback to replace my Jeep for winter driving in the mountains (I do most of my driving in winter) and to get me in and out of my house if I have to go out when it's snowing (my driveway is long and very steep).

    So here's something I just can't understand. Look at the 09 Outback - it has heated seats, heated mirrors, even heated windshield wipers. It has as much ground clearance as my Jeep and a sophisticated AWD system with VDC. On paper, it would seem to be the perfect "snow beast" - until you look at the tires.

    What's with the racetrack tires on this thing - there's virtually no tread! Does this make any sense at all? I've read in forums like this one that these Bridgestone Pontenza RE92A's (OEM) are useless in snow - maybe even worse than useless - dangerous!

    There must be people like me out there who are about to buy a new Outback and know how bad these tires are. What can we do about it? Any luck negotiating with dealers for something better (They've got to know how bad these tires are and that they just don't belong on a vehicle like this).
  • I've gone through two winters with the Potenzas on my 07Outback, one very snowy and one so-so. Those tires certainly make winter driving an adventure. I ran Nokian WRs on my prior Outback and on my wife's current Outback. They are expensive, a little loud, but they are great in the winter on snow and ice. They are All Season and Winter rated, and they are on my short list to replace my Potenzas now with 22k on them.

    But if I were driving on mountain roads and up and down a long driveway, I'd seriously consider a dedicated winter tire.
  • Thanks for your reply. Did you know how bad the Pontenza's were before you bought your 07 Outback? Sounds like you have lots of experience with prior Outbacks - did they not have Pontenza's? It's bothering me a lot to have to accept tires like these on a brand new Outback because I consider them to be worthless and completely inexplicable on a vehicle with such cold weather credentials. I'd like to get the dealer to agree that they're terrible and put on something better before I take delivery.

    You suggested a dedicated winter tire, which I think is what I may have to do. I did this with my Jeep after the Wranglers wore out. The Michelins I bought are 2 years old and have more tread on them now than most new tires. They're loud and the tread is very aggressive, but the Jeep is really a truck and doesn't handle nicely at highway speeds anyway. It has the dynamics of a brick so at highway speeds there's so much wind noise you can't hear how loud the tires are - I'm lucky I can hear the radio. In contrast, the Outback looks to be much more car-like so I'd like to give a set of good all-season tires a try first. Then if they don't perform well in winter I'll get a set of winter tires - but I'll run them all year round like I do now on my Jeep. This works for me because I do most of my driving in the winter. I just go around town and don't put on many miles during the warmer weather when the winter tires would otherwise get worn down prematurely. Do you run your Nokian WR's year round or change 'em over twice a year?
  • My '06 Outback is due for new tires at 33k miles. We drive freeways, back roads, dirt roads, and some desert "sorta" roads. The car is capable, but have not been able to find any on/off road rated tires in the 225 55R 17 size. Wold appreciate any suggestions.
  • The 02 and 04 Outbacks came with Potenza RE 92s which weren't very good. My dealer wasn't receptive to switching out tires, but some on this forum have reportedly done so. Yes, its annoying, at the least, to put done so much money for a new car only to have to think about spending more money on better tires.

    We run the Nokians year round.
  • Thanks again. I just looked online at your Nokians and they look like they can handle snow really well. And you run them year-round which is great because buying another set of wheels is not for me and changing them over twice a year is not a good solution either. So you're happy with these tires in both Summer and Winter?

    You mentioned "expensive" - would you be willing to say how much for a set of 4?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The RE92s are put on because the car is not exclusively sold in snow packed tundras and agressive tires would kill the EPA gas milage (same reason why you see street tires on most SUVs and Pickups these days).

    I run Nokian Hakka RSi tires in the winter and dedicated summers on my LGT wagon. The RSi tires are the best I've ever used in snow on any car. But they are $190 shipped so they aren't cheap.

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • I have Goodyear TripleTreds on my wife's Malibu, and when I buy (hopefully very soon) the or another Outback I'm looking at, I want to put those on. They are great all-season. I have had a great experience with them. Living in MI we get all sorts of weather.
  • Hi Paisan,

    Thanks for that explanation. I guess it makes sense to get the highest mileage estimate they can possibly attain, but here's my point. I don't know how many Outbacks are sold where but it seems clear the marketing people at Subaru are taking aim at colder climes. All I know is what I see for standard equipment - heated seats, heated mirrors, heated windshield wipers, ground clearance same as my Jeep, a sophisticated AWD system with VDC . . . BUT racetrack tires with a lousy treadwear rating of 260? Which one of these things doesn't belong??

    I think they sell a ton of Outbacks in New England because people want a vehicle that can handle the weather and tires like these make no sense for this region on a vehicle that Subaru wants you to believe is up to the task.

    As you said, you run Nokians in the winter. Why should any of us have to buy another set of tires for the new car we're buying? Most New Englanders run a single set of tires year round - just not tires like these.

    - Jim
  • Last winter I was quoted $780 installed and lifetime balance (plus tax) for 225/55/17. In January 2007 I paid $574 for a set of 225/60/16 for a 2004 Outback. And by the time you get 40k on them there won't be much tread depth for snow.

    They are fine in the summer and great in heavy rain.

    Again, the downside is cost, not long-wearing, and they aren't quiet.

    Upside is year round use, great in snow and ice, and no changeover costs or storage of another set of tires.
  • IMO RE92s and 92As are used by Subaru for the reasons you cite. I also, suspect they buy them real cheap, too. Both of those tires are poorly rated by Tire Rack in several categories. There are many, many all-season tires which are rated much higher. I've found them unsettling even in light snow.
  • Thank you. I appreciate the info and I think this is not too much to pay for tires that will make the Outback perform as advertised. Too bad tires like these are not included in the sticker price.

    I'm going to try to work something out with my dealer - if they want to sell me an Outback. They must know how terrible these tires are for New England winters and I bet they've already heard from a lot of "satisfied" customers.

    - Jim
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    >BUT racetrack tires with a lousy treadwear rating of 260?

    RE92s are hardly racetrack tires, they are garden variety all seasons, not great ones at that. they are dirt cheap to the manufacturer (I think) which is why they are on a zillion subarus, toyotas, lexus'

    the nokian WRs are great all year tires, or even just as a dedicated winter tire.
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 45
    Thanks. A number of people have recommended the Nokian WR and I've looked at them online. They look like the kind of tires I would have expected to find on the Outback and these are the ones I want. I hope I can work out something with the dealer.

    And you're right - I don't know what racetrack tires even look like. My characterization of the RE92A's was based on examining the tread, of which I could find very little. Don't you think this tire is a misfit on a vehicle like this which is otherwise so well equipped for cold weather?

    - Jim
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Here is another thing on tires. I rather a manufacturer get the absolutely cheapest tires they can slap on there. Why you ask? Because I have my own opinion on what tires I want and if let's say it costs them $200-500 more per car to put on XYZ tires that one percieves as "great tires", I am now paying for tires that I absolutely don't want on the car, so not only am I now getting tires I don't want, but I'm getting EXPENSIVE tires that I don't want. Same could be said for the STi/SpecB, again I rather them have "ok" summer tires and let me chuck em and buy what I want.

    The other problem is this, let's say they slapped on a set of borderline snow tires badged as A/S tires and then sold the cars in TX and FL, those folks would/could have the same arguements you are having for "snow" rated tires. The car game often is a least common denominator, tires being a big one of those.

    Also you never want to run a snow-biased AS tire in the summer because you'll take a hit gas-milage and tire-wear wise. If you are in a climate that gets snow, it really does pay to get a set of dedicated snows. Heck I live in NYC and run dedicated snows and dedicated summers. All Seasons do no season well, and all seasons so-so.


    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 45
    Thanks Paisan; what you say makes sense. Tire rack categorizes the Potenza RE92A's as "high-performance all seasons" and they rate at the bottom of that category in customer satisfaction and nearly "unacceptable" in the winter driving categories.

    No matter the price, I think Subaru is making a mistake to put these on the Outback as standard equipment when they offer no other choice. I never see advertisements of Outbacks tearing up a racetrack - they always show Outbacks going off-road or plowing through snowdrifts with skis on top. Nearly any other "high performance all-season" tire they could have chosen would perform much better and some of these retail in the US for less money than the RE92A. In addition, if they had chosen from the "passenger all-season" category, they might have picked some of the tires people responding to my post have recommended - like the Goodyear Assurance Triple-Ttread which ranks number 1 in this category.

    I'm still going to try to negotiate a swap when I go to the dealer to buy. I appreciate your replies and will let you know how I make out. Thanks again.
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    >My characterization of the RE92A's was based on examining the tread, of which I could find very little.

    they don't have a "chunky" tread like you see on trucks for sure but like any passenger all season they will have about 10 -11/32in tread depth. Snow tires may sometimes have a little more,
    Subaru has used Re92s since my 1992 Legacy! they obviously have something going with Bridgestone. Not sure how the RE92A differs except worse wear rating. When they are new with lots of tread the RE92 aren't too bad in the snow, the 2nd season is when they will bite you! I drove my new 92 with the RE92s through a March snowstorm from Des Moines to Chicago on the interstate after the plows had been pulled off the road and survived! 2 years later I did it again ( I know, I'm stupid!) but with snowtires, it was far less stressful the 2nd time than the first, but the Re92s did fine that first year. I use snowtires on all my subarus in winter though except for my Tribeca which has all year round Nokians which unfortunately may be 50-60 bucks a tire more than most other ones.
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 45
    Well, anyone who sets out in a snowstorm from Des Moines to Chicago and then continues after the plows go home deserves to be listened to. Makes me think I'm making too much of this tire issue.

    I know I can't expect to find Jeep tires on an Outback but after driving Jeeps for 20 years I look at those Potenzas in the showroom and I just don't see how they are going to get me back up my driveway in winter if we get more than an inch of snow while I'm out. I NEED my Outback to be able to do this or it's no sale!

    And I still think these tires are a misfit on a family wagon with 8 and a half inches of ground clearance. The Tire Rack says these are "high performance all seasons" but they perform miserably in their winter driving categories. They have a "V" rating for speed, which I looked up and its 150 mi/hr. Still think these belong on a 4 cylinder Outback? I guess I'll be glad I have them when I get caught in a hurricane going downhill. . .

    - Jim
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Unfortunately the retail price and the OEM price are significantly different. The reason for the tires is milage, wear, and well-rounded abilities.

    These cars are not offroad vehicles, so please don't buy them thinking that they are anything at all like your Jeep. I've offroaded my Trooper, and my Armada. Even my Armada is not a competant offroader and the Outback certainly is NOT meant for offroad excursions. An un-improved road, a snowy driveway, a gravel road, etc, ABSOLUTELY, but to have any kind of knobby tires on the car would kill the milage, kill the safe handling, and overall make the vehicle not what they want.

    I agree that the RE92s aren't the best tires, however I've driven on them on track in my race cars, driven on them in snow storms. One time I was driving my 94 Legacy turbo down to Summit Point Raceway and we hit a blizzard in PA on RE92s and then when we got to Summit Point it was 50 degrees and sunny. Did the track day on the RE92s and drove back to NYC.

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  • twigs8twigs8 Posts: 3
    I seem to have the Tire Symbol with a ! light on in my new GT 2008. I've check the tire pressure and they seem to be ok. Any other ideas why it's on?
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 45
    Hi Mike,

    I understand what you are saying; I'm just having a difficult time believing that these tires will get me back up my driveway in winter if I haven't had a chance to clear it of snow first. You seem to understand my perspective on this, having driven Jeeps for 20 years. I'm looking for a replacement vehicle and the Outback advertising caught my eye. By the way, have you seen what the 2009 Outback brochure looks like? Every picture shows an Outback either off-road or plowing through the snow with skis on top. Then I get to the showroom and see these "high performance" tires that are rated 150 mph. Clearly these are intended for use on the 6 cylinder and turbo sedans. You've got to ask yourself, why did Subaru put the 4 cylinder Outback on stilts to get 8.5 inches of ground clearance if they intended to put these same tires on it?

    To me it makes no sense. It's borderline fraud to advertise in this way and then not even have an available tire upgrade so that the vehicle can perform as advertised. I don't want to go off road, I just want to stay on the roads in winter and get up and down my driveway safely, even if I have to go out or come home in the snow. I don't believe the Outback with OEM equipment can do the job and I'm mad as hell about having to buy another set of tires for a brand new car.

    In my area, the Jeep dealers are desperate to move their leftover 2008s. I can get a brand new Grand Cherokee Laredo (4x4 - MSRP over $32,000) for $19,500! This is about $5,000 less than a similarly equipped Outback. It won't ride like an Outback, but you should see the tires on it and it WILL go anywhere.

    - Jim
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 45
    I just want to thank everyone who replied to my posts about the OEM tires on Outbacks. I have heard from a lot of people who say they're terrible and that they have either switched over to a decent set of all-season tires or are using dedicated snow tires in winter and switch over twice a year.

    I've been to the dealer and they claim to have never heard a bad word about these tires and (of course) there is nothing they can do about upgrading/replacing them. I asked about the pictures in the brochure and the TV advertising and they said all of this is possible with the Potenzas - they think they're really good all-season tires.

    Across the street from the Subaru dealer is a Jeep dealer. I stopped in and got a great trade. I just bought a new (2008) Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 (MSRP over $32,000) for under $20,000. I'm only going to get 17mpg, but my monthly payment is at least $100 less than a Subaru comparably equipped. Bottom line is that I'll spend more on gas, but much less overall each month. The big plus is that I have the vehicle that will get me where I need to go in winter - no question, no worries.

    I won't be posting here anymore and I'll bet a lot of you are glad I won't be ranting about the Potenzas any more. Thanks again for your interest.

    - Jim
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,147
    I know that this conversation is long since passed, but I thought I would chime in here just to have it on the page.

    I had the RE92A tires on both an 07 and 08 Outback. They were unsettling, even in light snow. In my experience, the car and driver were both able to somewhat compensate for the worthless tires, but had I kept either one of them long term, I would have absolutely put better rubber on them.

    I had Goodyear TripleTread tires on a prior Outback, and they were fantastic all-seasons with an exceptional tread life. They really shined on ice, which is my most significant requirement in a tire since I drive on ice for 6-7 months of the year.

    When I sold the 08 Outback, I strongly recommended winter tires with 16" rims (tires far less expensive compared to 17") to the person who ultimately purchased it. She found some used 16" alloy rims off a prior model year Outback and had Nokian tires mounted on them before my car was delivered to her house. When it arrived, she had her son swap out the wheels and off she went! Lucky her, she never even got to experience the "thrill" of the RE92A on ice. :D
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • dougb10dougb10 Burlington, Ontario, CanadaPosts: 185
    XWESX.....I "experienced the thrill" of the original RE92's in ice and in snow. After 1,500 km.'s on our "05 Outback Limited, I switched to Turanza LSH shoes.

    Almost 4 years later (only 31,000 km.s on the clock), I am more than pleased with these tires. Most importantly, the Subie is a blast to drive...better ride and very confident in the wet stuff.

    The RE92's are crap....plain and simple!

This discussion has been closed.