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Almost Killed

Coming back from New York my husband spun out on 91 just before the Hartford Ct exit. It was New Year’s eve about 3pm, it was stormy. He was going about 45 miles per hr and going straight ahead. The car (an all drive 4 wheel subaru Legancy just spun out of control. Now, several days before we got two new rear tires on the back. They were different from the front as the dealer did not have the same tires. The front ones are pretty new. Could the mismatched set have done this. The rear also seemed different when we went up our hill going super slow. Kind of like the back was skidding to the side. The tire guy thinks we’re making this up.

Yes, they definitely could have. However proving it may be near impossible.

If the dealer explained that he was unable to match the front tires and you authorized him to go ahead and use something different, he did the prudent thing by putting the new ones on the rear.

If they were significantly different in rolling circumference or ratings then he should have known better than to mount them on an AWD Subie.

If they were not different in designated use (all season vs winter for example), tread design, load or speed rating, or rolling circumference, then he did nothing wrong.

Check the size and codes on the sidewalls. will tell you what they mean. If they’re different, you may have a case. Post back and let us know.

Most likely, the tires are so-called “all-season” tires and the reality is that some tires of this type are “okay” on ice and snow, but others are essentially useless. This is because there is absolutely no standard (government or tire industry) as to what constitutes an all-season tire. Thus, any tire manufacturer can call any tire an “all-season” tire.

If you really want to have maximum traction for starting, for cornering and for stopping, you should get a set of 4 winter tires mounted on their own steel wheels. And, there is a standard for winter tires! If you see a pictogram on the tire sidewall depicting a snowflake superimposed on a mountain peak, that tells you that the tire meets industry standards for winter traction.

I also have an AWD Subaru, with traction control and vehicle stability control (anti-skid system), and I won’t drive in bad winter conditions without my Michelin X-Ice tires. A set of winter tires makes a HUGE difference in your safety.

See if you can locate any reports of accidents that are postivetly,with no question linked to the situation you describe,check with Subaru,DOT,NTHSB.

What remedy are you seeking?

Now that you know,or at least suspect you have a car that is unsafe to drive you cannot claim ignorance if the situation occurs again causing a accident,you have been informed.

Under the conditions you listed, having that AWD did not help, in fact it might (not likely however) have contributed to the problem.  I see two problems.

First the mix of tyre size, condition and type could have been a serious factor.  Even in a 2WD car miss matched tyres can cause problems.  Second, and I believe the real problem here, is you likely got All Season tyres.  They are good for three seasons only.  Don't expect them to be any good for winter.  For winter you should have "Winter" tyres.  Some people still call them snow tyres, but there is a difference, but since I don't believe they make snow tyres any more, it is not material. 

In your case the dealer put the new tyres on the back, which is correct and normally will provide the best safety. It is possible that the front tyres may have had more traction, even if they were not as new. Also new tyres often don’t get full traction for a hundred or so miles.

On your car, you can damage the car if the tyres on the front and back are different sizes. Even if both sets of tyres were the exact same size when manufactured, the ones on the front could have worn enough that they are now not close enough and may damage the car if you drive much on them, so be sure to have that checked by the Subaru dealer. The dealer should be able to check it for you.

When you say “dealer”, did you get your tyres from a Subaru dealer or from a tyre dealer. It is possible a tyre dealer would not know about matching sizes.

Without knowing what kind of tires are involved it’s possible that the new tires may simply not be good enough for the conditions at the time.

You say it was stormy. If rainwater was pooling it’s quite possible that depending on the water depth and the tires that going 45 MPH may have been too fast for the conditions.

I’ve related the story on here of the Kelly tires I used to have on my Lincoln and those were without a doubt the worst tires I’ve ever seen in my life for wet conditions.
A number of times on the Interstate driving the car required both hands, all of my concentration, and it was still a white-knuckle drive.

At the end of the day (or night) the driver of the car is responsible for virtually everthing that happens. If it does not feel right, you need to slow down or park it.