Subaru's AWD vehicles at home with all-season tires

You absolutely must replace all four tires at the same time. If you are making a major change in tread pattern (and potentially tire diameter), you must switch all four tires or your all-wheel drive system may be damaged.

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Q I drive a Subaru Legacy Outback that is equipped with P225/60R16 97H Firestone Wilderness tires.

Can I replace them with the same size all-season tires?

Paul Kic, Toronto



A Yes, you can replace those tires with all-season tires, if you are not planning to do much off-road driving.

The OE tires are H-speed rated, so make sure you replace them with H-speed rated all-season tires.

You absolutely must replace all four tires at the same time. If you are making a major change in tread pattern (and potentially tire diameter), you must switch all four tires or your all-wheel drive system may be damaged.

Q I own a 1998 Subaru Forester and as this vehicle is now making regular trips year-round to the Parry Sound area, I’ve decided that a new set of winter tires is needed, either all-season radials or snow tires.

A friend suggested BFGoodrich All Terrain TA KO LT215/70R16 tires.

Is this an appropriate tire for this vehicle. What would be the positives and negatives of using this tire?

The Forester is driven 50 per cent Toronto and 50 per cent highway to Parry Sound and cottage country.

Frank Reilly, Toronto



A I would not consider putting LT (light truck) rated tires on a Subaru Forester.

It is a car-based mini-SUV and, as such, uses a car-style suspension.

Those BFG tires are for serious off-road use. They will feel heavy, clumsy and be noisy on the Forester.

So unless you plan to drive down logging trails in the woods in the winter, I’d stick to a good brand of car-based tire for the Subaru.

Its all-wheel-drive system can get you through the bad conditions with the right tires.

Some all-season tires that have good winter traction are: Goodyear TripleTred, Nokian WR and General Tire Exclaim.

Some dedicated winter tires that have good urban manners are: Bridgestone Blizzak series, Goodyear Ultragrip series and the Pirelli winters.

Q I have a 2003 Nissan Maxima that came with Goodyear Eagle R-SA tires, including a full-size spare.

I recently bought new tires of the same make and thought it would be economical to use the spare and buy only three new tires. I have saved the best of original set as my spare. It has about 90,000 km on it and there are no sidewall cracks. The tread is just above the wear bar.

After reading about the “natural aging” of tires, I am now wondering if my decision was a wise one?

Rob McDowell, Milton



A Using a spare tire that is three years old on active duty is not the best idea. It would have been wiser to include it in your periodic tire rotation. But three years old is not at the end of its life cycle.

The older tire will have considerably less grip than the other three new ones. This will manifest itself under emergency situations with this tire locking up faster than the others. This tire should be on the front to lessen the chances of the car spinning.

Tread Bits

MISSING THE MARK: One of my pet peeves is the lack of standardization in how tire shops mark the tires when a changeover is made. Some shops chalk- mark the tires’ position on the car. For instance LF means it came off the left front of the car.

I’ve noticed now that some shops are marking the tires with the location where the tire should go at the next rotation. So taking a tire off the left front they may mark it RR (for right rear) where they think it should go next time. So if you go to a shop using the other method of marking tires, the tire will go on the wrong corner of the car.

The installer should inspect the tires and put the best on the back. But often when things are busy at the shop, things don’t get done right.

So ask your shop what the marks on the tires mean, in case you go to a new one next time.

PRICE INCREASE: If you are considering a new set of tires for fall, you may end up paying more.

Bridgestone Firestone Canada has announced price increases on its Bridgestone, Firestone, Fuzion, Dayton and private brand tires. The increases of up to 4 per cent were scheduled to begin phasing in this month.

Email tire questions to

John Mahlerat

Please include make, model and year, tire size and your full name, address and phone number.

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