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Hi Guys! LOVE your column - have learned lots!

My two kids have Subaru Outbacks. One is an 05 and the other is brand new. We live in snowy Montana and the kids drive home often for the holidays. When they’re on ice or wet snow with their cars there is a LOT of difficulty with the handling as the cars fishtail regularly. They are passed by Toyota’s and Honda’s en mass and it is driving them crazy. My one daughter even got new tires and realignment while home to no avail. Could the all wheel drive have something to do with this? They both know well enough to not use cruise control on bad roads. Can you help us? Oh, by the way, my husband and I drive a Honda Accord and love how it handles on bad roads.


I suggest getting winter tyres. Regular all season (really just three season) tyres just are not up to winter driving. I also suggest that everyone remember that AWD and 4WD do not keep you from sliding into the ditch, but they may help you get out of it once you slide in. Good Winter tyres help with both.

An alignment really wouldn’t help much. Check for cheaper winter tires, and to look at reviews to find the best ones. You can also get them on their own rims to make it possible to swap yourself in late fall and early spring. I used winter tires for the first time last year (I used to, and still occasionally just take my 4WD Ranger in bad snow) and swear by them now. It took one winter to sell me.

Unless the roads are REALLY bad, cruise control isn’t that bad, since it keeps a nice, even speed. You do lose a little road feel, but if you pay attention, it is fine.

Here is a similar thread. Just does not sound like it should be a problem, but evidently it is.

What tires are they using? For the older ones, how much tread do they have? I remember reading here that some Subarus came with all-season tires that are terrible in the snow, possibly certain Bridgestones if I remember correctly.

By the way, a title of “wondering…” is not the best way to get attention from the people who might be able to help you.

All car manuals I have read tell you to say OUT OF CRUISE CONTROL when the roads are wet, snowy or icy! Your foot is a lot more sensitive than the cruise.

I once drove in cruise on a relatively dry and clear road and then hit a snowy/icy patch. The car immediately went into a sideways slide and hitting the brakes (thus disengaging the cruise) saved my bacon. This car did not have traction and stability control. Cras with those features might fare somewhat better, but under no circumstances would I recommend using cruise except on dry roads and only on highways, not city throughways.

Are the CV joints okay? I don’t know what garage they go to, but they can allign the front end all they want while it’s on the lift, but if it’s got bad CV joints (or any other such things under there that are dealing with power to the wheels and keeping it going straight down the road) it’s going to show up when it’s being driven,and only amplified in the snow.

If all is good then definitely look at better tires. Firestone’s Winterforce M+S are great tires and basically the same as Blizzaks but at at least half the price. Tire Rack is a great place to get them.