Can You Put Snow Chains on a Subaru Forester? Exploring the Possibility

As snow blankets the roads, you might wonder: can you put snow chains on a Subaru Forester? This concise guide is your key to understanding Subaru Forester tire chains. We’ll guide you through the essentials, making winter driving a breeze. Let’s get started!

As winter approaches, Subaru Forester owners often wonder about the feasibility and safety of using snow chains on their vehicles. Picture this: a snowy mountain pass, the road blanketed in a thick layer of fresh snow. A Subaru Forester confidently navigates this winter wonderland, its all-wheel drive providing steady traction.

But as the snow deepens, the driver wonders about additional safety measures. This brings us to a common query among Forester owners and enthusiasts: Do Subaru Foresters need snow chains?

can you put snow chains on a subaru forester
Assessing can you put snow chains on a Subaru Forester in chains-required areas for enhanced traction.
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This article aims to explore the Subaru Forester snow chains compatibility, delving into the nuances of using snow chains for Subaru Forester. We’ll investigate whether putting tire chains on Subaru Forester is advisable, or even necessary.

Additionally, we’ll look into the best snow chains for Subaru Forester, offering insights for those considering this winter safety feature. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive guide, helping you make informed decisions about equipping your Subaru Forester for winter driving.

Can You Put Snow Chains on a Subaru Forester?

Subaru Forester owners often face confusion when it comes to the use of snow chains, given the mixed advice online and in manuals. Different model years of the Forester come with varying recommendations, leading to uncertainty. The primary concern revolves around Subaru Forester snow chain clearance issues.

The vehicle’s design, particularly in newer models, offers limited space between the tires and the body, raising the risk of damage if chains are used. This has led to discussions about the risks of using snow chains on Subaru Forester, as improper use can lead to costly repairs.

Subaru does not recommend using snow chains on Foresters due to clearance issues and potential damage. The Symmetrical AWD system is designed to handle snow and ice effectively, making chains often unnecessary. However, in extreme conditions, where chains are legally required, use only SAE Class S tire chains and follow the manual’s instructions.

Despite these concerns, some owners ponder does a Subaru Forester need snow chains in severe winter conditions. While the Subaru Forester AWD snow chain compatibility is limited, there are alternatives to snow chains. These include winter tires, which offer enhanced traction in snowy conditions, and snow socks, a less damaging option.

A Subaru Forester confidently driving without snow chains in a heavy snowfall area.

For those still considering chains, finding the best tire chains for Subaru Forester requires careful research to ensure minimal risk. All things considered, understanding the dynamics of Subaru Forester driving in snow with tire chains is crucial for safe winter driving.

Why Subaru Doesn’t Recommend Tire Chains on a Subaru Forester?

Subaru’s stance on tire chains is influenced by several key factors, primarily revolving around their advanced AWD system. The brand’s recommendations reflect a commitment to safety, vehicle integrity, and the unique capabilities of their models, particularly the Forester.

Here are some of essential reasons why Subaru doesn’t recommend using snow chains on a Subaru Forester:

  • Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) Takes the Lead: Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system evenly distributes power for superior traction. This reduces the need for chains, as the AWD system effectively manages snowy conditions, making Subaru Forester AWD and snow chains less compatible.
  • Low Clearance, High Risk: Modern Subarus, including the Forester, have tight wheel well clearances. Traditional chains can damage fenders and suspension, explaining why conventional tire chains might not fit and pose a high risk.
  • Legal Nuances: Not Always Mandatory: Chains aren’t always legally required. Subaru suggests relying on AWD unless facing extreme weather or legal requirements for snow chains on Subaru Forester. This approach often suffices for typical winter conditions.
  • Installation Challenges and Complexity: Installing chains is complex and time-consuming, especially in harsh weather. The difficulty and risk of improper installation further discourage their use on Subarus, where the AWD system offers a simpler, more effective solution.
  • Damage Concerns Beyond Wheel Wells: Chains can fling debris, damaging nearby vehicles or pedestrians. They also risk harming brake lines and sensors, leading to expensive repairs. This extends the Subaru Forester tire chain requirements beyond mere fit.
  • Warranty Woes and Responsibility Shift: Using chains can void warranties related to suspension or drivetrain components. Subaru emphasizes this, indicating that Subaru does not recommend installing snow chains on Forester to avoid these issues.
subaru forester snow chains
Assessing does a Subaru Forester need snow chains in heavy snowfall.

These valuable reasons collectively highlight Subaru’s emphasis on the capabilities of their AWD system and the potential risks and complications associated with using tire chains on models like the Forester.

Must check: Are Studded Tires Better than Chains? An In-Depth Analysis

Alternative Traction Devices for Subaru Forester

Exploring the most appropriate and best alternatives to snow chains for Subaru Foresters, we find innovative solutions like snow socks and low-clearance cable chains. These alternatives are specifically tailored for vehicles like the Forester, which often raises the question, “Can you put snow chains on a Subaru Forester?

The answer lies in considering tire chains for low clearance vehicles, which provide the necessary traction without risking damage to the vehicle’s undercarriage. These options are not only safer but also cater to the unique design and clearance constraints of the Subaru Forester.

Winter Tires: Studded vs. Studless Options

Winter tires, both studded and studless, offer distinct advantages for driving in icy conditions. When comparing studded vs studless winter tires, it’s important to consider the specific driving environments and weather conditions you’ll face.

Studded snow tires, like the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV Studded Tires and Sumitomo Ice Edge Winter Tires, are the best winter tires for Subaru Forester when dealing with extreme ice and hard-packed snow. Their metal studs provide exceptional grip, making them ideal for severe winter conditions.

nokian hakkapeliitta 10

sumitomo ice edge studable

bridgestone blizzak ws90 winter tire

cooper discoverer true north winter tires

On the other hand, studless snow tires are better suited for a wider range of winter conditions. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Tires and Cooper Discoverer True North Winter Tires stand out as the studless winter tires for Forester, offering excellent traction in snow and ice without the need for metal studs.

These tires use advanced rubber compounds and tread designs to grip the road, making them a safer and more versatile choice for winter tires in snowy and icy conditions. Their performance is well-balanced, providing reliable safety without the additional road noise and pavement wear associated with studded options.

Traction Devices: Snow Socks and Tire Cables

Snow socks and cable tire chains emerge as practical alternatives to traditional chains for the Subaru Forester. These innovative solutions address the common query: are snow socks as good as chains? Indeed, for many Forester owners, they are not just good but preferable.

The AutoSock 685 Snow Socks and K&K Automotive Snow Socks for Tires are recognized as the best snow socks for Subaru Forester. These textile snow chains for winter driving are designed specifically for vehicles like the Forester, which often have limited clearance.

The snow socks for Subaru Forester tires offer a significant advantage in terms of ease of installation and minimal risk of damage to the vehicle’s bodywork and suspension.


k&k automotive snow socks

sz143 super z6 cable tire chain

radial chain sc1034

In the realm of cable tire chains for Subaru Forester, the SCC SZ143 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain and SCC SC1034 Radial Chain stand out. These cable tire chains, meeting the SAE Class “S” Clearance requirements, are ideal as low clearance snow chains for passenger cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs. They are known as the best tire traction devices for Subaru Forester, offering robust performance in snowy conditions.

These snow cables for Subaru Forester are not only the easiest tire chains to install but also ensure Subaru Forester tire chains compatibility, making them a safe and effective choice for enhancing winter driving safety.

In simple words, these snow chains alternatives provide Subaru Forester owners with reliable tire traction solutions that are easy to use and compatible with their vehicle’s design, making winter driving safer and more convenient.

Here is the overview of alternative traction devices suitable for Subaru Forester, tailored to enhance safety and performance in winter conditions:

Traction DeviceTypeDescriptionBest For
Studded Winter TiresTiresMetal studs provide exceptional grip on ice and hard-packed snow.Extreme ice and hard-packed snow.
Snow SocksTextile ChainsHighly certified and serve as a legal alternative to tire chains. Designed for limited clearance, easy installation, and minimal risk of damage.Lighter snow conditions and easy install. Quick and easy traction solution.
Cable Tire ChainsCable ChainsLow clearance chains meeting SAE Class “S” requirements, ideal for passenger cars and SUVs.Robust performance in snowy conditions.

Select the right traction device according to your need to ensure optimal safety and performance for your Subaru Forester in various winter driving scenarios.

The Nuances: When Snow Chains Might Be Needed

Despite Subaru’s general advice, there are scenarios where snow chains might be necessary. Understanding why snow chains might be needed and the specifics of installing snow chains on Subaru Forester tires is crucial. These situations typically arise in extreme weather conditions or due to legal requirements.

While Subaru’s AWD system is highly capable, certain circumstances, such as steep, icy roads, may demand the additional traction that only snow chains can provide. It’s essential for Forester owners to recognize these exceptional scenarios and prepare accordingly.

In certain extreme weather conditions and legal scenarios, the use of snow chains on a Subaru Forester becomes a consideration. The advanced AWD system of the Forester, while robust, may face challenges on steep, icy grades or in deep snow. In these situations, why use tire chains on a Subaru Forester becomes clear: they provide the extra grip necessary for safe navigation.

Furthermore, various regions have legal requirements mandating the use of snow chains under specific weather conditions. These laws are particularly prevalent in mountainous areas where winter weather can create hazardous driving conditions.

Therefore, it’s important for drivers to be aware of and comply with these regional regulations, ensuring safety and legality when traversing these challenging environments.

Model Year Variations and Clearance Issues

Different Subaru Forester models present varying challenges when it comes to fitting snow chains. The primary concern is the wheel well clearance, which varies between older and newer models. Why conventional chains might not fit often boils down to these clearance differences.

Newer models, with tighter clearances, may require specific types of chains or alternative traction devices. It’s crucial for owners to understand choosing the right tire chains for your Forester tires, considering their specific model year and tire size.

Compatibility is key to avoid any damage to the vehicle and ensure effective performance. Therefore, tire chain recommendations for Subaru Foresters must be model-specific, taking into account these variations to provide the best fit and function without risking damage to the vehicle.

The Risk of Damage: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Using snow chains on a Subaru Forester isn’t without risks, particularly to the vehicle’s undercarriage and suspension. The potential for damage to fenders and suspension components is a significant concern when installing snow chains on a Subaru Forester.

This risk underscores the importance of driving with snow chains on Subaru Forester cautiously and only when absolutely necessary. The chains can cause wear and tear or even direct damage if not used correctly or if they’re not the right fit for the vehicle. It’s a balancing act between the need for enhanced traction and the risk of damaging your vehicle.

Owners should carefully consider these risks before deciding to install chains. The question of can you put snow chains on a Subaru Forester is not just about possibility but also about prudence. Evaluating the necessity against the potential for damage is crucial for any Forester owner considering the use of snow chains.

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How to Install Snow Chains on a Subaru Forester (if Applicable)

For those instances where snow chains are necessary, proper installation is key. Installing snow chains on Subaru Forester tires requires attention to detail, especially considering the low clearance tire chains that are often needed for this vehicle. It’s not just about enhancing the Subaru Forester snow performance with and without chains; it’s also about ensuring safety.

Proper installation ensures that driving with snow chains on a Forester is effective and minimizes the risk of damage to the vehicle, making it a crucial skill for Forester owners in snowy regions.

Only for Specific Models and Conditions

This tire chain installation section is tailored only for Subaru Forester owners who have determined that snow chains are both safe and necessary for their specific model. It’s important to recognize that “are snow chains safe on Subaru Forester?” depends on various factors, including model year and specific driving conditions.

Always refer to the owner’s manual for Subaru Forester snow chains compatibility and guidelines. This section applies when the use of chains is deemed necessary and safe, particularly in conditions where the vehicle’s AWD system might need additional traction support.

Remember, the goal is to enhance safety and performance, not to compromise it.

Gathering the Tools and Equipment

Before installing snow chains, ensure you have the right tools and the correct type of chains for your Forester. Essential tire chain installation tools include a jack (for easier access to the tires), durable gloves (for protection and grip), and tire chain tensioners (to ensure the chains fit snugly and securely).

When selecting chains, consider types of snow chains for Foresters that are suitable for your vehicle’s tire size and clearance. Typically, snow chains for low clearance vehicles like the Forester are recommended.

Also, determine how many tires need chains on a Subaru Forester – usually, it’s the front tires, but always check the manual for specific recommendations. Proper preparation is crucial for a smooth and safe installation process.

Installing Snow Chains on Subaru Forester Tires: Step-by-Step Guide

Installing snow chains on a Subaru Forester involves a series of straightforward steps for those who need to use them. Among the best snow chains for Subaru Forester tires are the Peerless Auto-Trac Tire Chains and SZ143 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain (these cable tire chains comes with built-in rubber tensioner).

These options are known for being the easiest tire chains to install on a Subaru Forester and are highly recommended due to their durability and compatibility with low clearance vehicles, meeting Class “S” clearance requirements. Here’s a step-by-step guide, including troubleshooting tips and warnings for common issues:

Step 1: Preparation

Before installation, park your Forester on a flat surface and apply the parking brake. Lay out the chains next to the tires they will be installed on. Ensure they are untangled and ready for use.

Step 2: Positioning the Chains

Drape the chains over the tire, ensuring an even distribution on both sides. The ends of the chains should hang equally on either side of the tire. This step is crucial for balanced traction.

Step 3: Securing the Chains

Begin by hooking the ends of the chains together behind the tire. Then, connect the chains on the front side of the tire. Make sure the connections are secure and tight.

Step 4: Tightening and Adjusting

After securing, drive forward a few feet, then stop and re-tighten the chains. This step is essential to ensure the chains are snug against the tire, providing optimal traction and safety.

Step 5: Final Checks

Do a final inspection to ensure the chains are properly aligned and secure. Check for any loose ends or potential points of friction. Ensure there’s no contact with the vehicle’s body or suspension components.

Step 6: Troubleshooting

If you notice uneven wear or slippage, stop and adjust the chains. Always carry spare links and a repair kit for emergencies. Never exceed the recommended speed limit for driving with chains.

Equipping a Subaru Forester with snow tire chains for chains-required areas.

Remember, the most durable low clearance snow chains like the Peerless Auto-Trac and SZ143 Super Z6 ( are designed for ease of use and reliability, but proper installation and regular checks are key to ensuring their effectiveness and your safety.

Best Alternatives and Solutions Beyond Snow Chains

Beyond snow chains, there are several effective ways to enhance your Forester’s grip in winter conditions. Exploring the best alternatives to snow chains for Subaru Foresters is essential, especially when considering the question, “can you put tire chains on a Subaru Forester, if not then what are the alternatives?”

From dedicated winter tires to innovative tire socks, these alternatives offer effective traction solutions that are often safer and more suitable for various winter driving scenarios, providing peace of mind and enhanced safety for Subaru Forester owners.

Investing in Dedicated Winter Tires

Dedicated winter tires often provide a safer and more effective solution than snow chains for winter driving. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Tires and Nokian Hakkapeliitta Studded Tires are among the best winter tires for a Subaru Forester in snowy and icy conditions. These tires are specifically designed to offer superior grip and stability in winter conditions, outperforming chains in most scenarios.

bridgestone blizzak ws90 winter tire

nokian hakkapeliitta 10

The Blizzak WS90 excels in deep snow and slush, while the Nokian Hakkapeliitta’s studs provide unmatched traction on ice. These Subaru Forester winter tires are essential for winter tires for safer driving in snow and ice, ensuring reliable performance and safety during the colder months.

Installing High-Quality Snow Socks for Tires

Snow socks are an innovative solution for Subaru Foresters, especially those with limited clearance. As an alternative winter tire traction option, Subaru Forester tire socks like the K&K Automotive Snow Socks and AutoSock Tire Snow Socks offer significant advantages.


k&k automotive snow socks

The K&K Snow Socks are known as the most durable tire socks for snow driving, providing reliable traction in lighter snow conditions. On the other hand, the AutoSock Snow Socks are highly certified and serve as a legal alternative to tire chains.

These top-rated and best snow socks for Subaru Forester are ideal for drivers seeking a quick and easy solution for enhancing traction without the complexities of installing textile snow chains on a Subaru Forester.

do subaru foresters need snow chains
The best tire traction devices for Subaru Forester showcased in winter conditions.

Driving Techniques for Snow and Ice

Adopting the right driving techniques is crucial for safely navigating snowy and icy roads. Even with the best tire chains alternatives for Subaru Foresters and different tire traction devices for snow, proper driving habits are essential.

Key techniques include maintaining steady momentumaccelerating and decelerating slowly to avoid skids. Smooth braking is vital; abrupt stops can lead to loss of control. Also, make gentle, gradual turns to prevent sliding.

Avoiding sharp turns and sudden movements helps maintain traction and control. Remember, even with the best equipment, driving in snow without tire chains requires patience, caution, and adapting to the conditions.

Emergency Preparedness and Resources

Being prepared for winter emergencies involves more than just the right equipment; knowledge and resources are key. It’s essential to equip your Forester with emergency supplies like blankets, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, and extra food and water.

Understanding how to use these supplies in an emergency is just as important as having them. Additionally, stay informed about current and upcoming weather conditions. Utilize online resources for real-time road conditions and weather advisories.

Websites like the National Weather Service or local transportation departments provide valuable updates. This preparedness, combined with preparing your vehicle for winter driving, ensures you’re ready to handle whatever winter throws your way.

You might also like: Top 10 Easiest Tire Chains to Install for Hassle-Free Winter Drives

FAQs About Installing Tire Chains on Subaru Forester:

Using snow chains on a Subaru Forester in chains-required areas can be necessary, but it’s important to choose the right type and use them correctly. Here in this FAQ section, we are addressing some of the most common questions about using snow chains on a Subaru Forester, providing insights into when they’re needed, the best snow tire chains for Subaru Forester, and alternatives for winter traction.

Are snow chains even necessary on a Subaru Forester?

Snow chains are not always necessary for a Subaru Forester, thanks to its efficient Symmetrical AWD system. However, in regions with chains-required policies or in extreme conditions like deep snow or steep, icy roads, they become essential. It’s important to assess the specific driving conditions and consult the vehicle’s manual for guidance.

In many cases, investing in quality winter tires might be sufficient, but in certain scenarios, especially where legal requirements exist, using snow chains on a Subaru Forester in chains-required areas becomes indispensable for safe driving.

What type of tire chains are suitable for a Subaru Forester?

For a Subaru Forester, the recommended Subaru Forester tire chain types are those that comply with SAE Class S standards, designed specifically for vehicles with limited clearance. Diamond-patterned cable chains are often the best choice, offering a balance of traction and ease of installation while minimizing the risk of damage to the vehicle.

It’s crucial to select chains that are compatible with your specific Forester model and tire size. Avoid heavy, bulky chains and opt for snow chains for low clearance vehicles to ensure safety and compatibility.

Can you use tire chains on a Subaru Forester with winter tires?

While it’s technically possible to use tire chains on a Subaru Forester equipped with winter tires, it’s generally not recommended. Winter tires alone provide excellent traction in most snowy and icy conditions. Adding chains can be redundant and may pose clearance issues.

Chains should only be considered in extreme situations where additional grip is absolutely necessary. For regular winter driving, relying on the winter tires’ capabilities is usually sufficient, and it avoids the complexities and potential risks of driving a Subaru Forester with snow chains on ice.

What are the alternatives to snow chains for my Forester?

There are several alternative winter tire traction options for a Subaru Forester beyond snow chains. High-quality winter tires are often the best choice for enhanced grip in snowy and icy conditions. For situations where chains are impractical due to clearance issues, snow socks can be a viable alternative.

They are easier to install and suitable for vehicles with limited space around the tires. Additionally, tire traction mats can provide temporary assistance in getting unstuck from snow. These alternatives offer effective traction solutions without the complexities and risks associated with snow chains.

What are the best snow chains for Subaru Forester in Deep Snow?

In deep snow conditions, the best winter snow chains for Subaru Forester are the Peerless Auto-Trac Tire Chains and SCC SZ143 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chains. These chains are designed to provide excellent traction in deep snow and challenging winter conditions.

The Peerless Auto-Trac chains are known for their ease of installation and effective grip, while the SCC SZ143 Super Z6 chains are praised for their durability and performance in extreme conditions. Both options are suitable for the Forester, offering reliable traction while meeting the vehicle’s clearance requirements.

Will using chains damage my Forester’s suspension or fenders?

Yes, there are risks of using snow chains on a Subaru Forester, particularly to the vehicle’s suspension and fenders. Improperly fitted chains or those not suitable for the vehicle’s clearance can cause rubbing and damage to these areas. It’s crucial to ensure that the chains are correctly installed, tightly secured, and appropriate for your Forester’s specific model and tire size.

Additionally, driving cautiously with chains, especially on dry or less snowy roads, can help minimize these risks. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and consider alternative traction methods if possible to reduce the likelihood of damage.

Conclusion: Do Subaru Foresters Need Snow Chains?

Understanding the legal implications and safety aspects of using snow chains on your Subaru Forester is essential for responsible driving. When considering Subaru Forester tire cables and snow tire chains, it’s crucial to assess regional laws, weather conditions, and specific vehicle models.

Although the Forester’s AWD system is adept in snowy conditions, the question of can you put snow chains on a Subaru Forester for traction in snowy conditions is pertinent in extreme scenarios.

While Subaru generally advises against chains due to tight wheel clearance issues, specific models with certain tire sizes can accommodate approved low-profile chains or cable traction devices in chains-required areas. Notably, SAE Class S chains like Peerless Auto-Trac Tire Chains and Super Z6 Cable Tire Chains are suitable for low clearance vehicles and rank among the best snow chains for Subaru Forester in chains-required areas.

Always prioritize safety and adhere to local regulations. The Forester is capable in winter, but the right chains or alternative traction devices can further enhance its performance. Responsible decision-making and driving practices are vital for safe winter navigation in your Subaru Forester.

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About Maze Cuban

Hello, I'm Maze Cuban, your go-to expert on winter road safety with snow chains for tires. I share in-depth knowledge about top-notch tire chains, snow tires, and snow socks. I provide detailed guides on tire chain installations and accessories, ensuring your snowy rides are safe and smooth. Journey with me to navigate icy roads with confidence.

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