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Hello all, new ascent (and first time Subaru) owner here with a question on beach and sand driving. I’ve seen a lot of “my outback/forester/justy eats up the beach, it’s amazing” posts on the internet and I’m curious about any experience with the ascent. I’ve driven stock wranglers a couple times on the beach and I’d like to take the ascent out onto the over sand vehicle area at assateague island or to the outer banks.

Given the overall clearance on the vehicle and the AWD I think it should be fine. My concern is the 20” wheels. Like many here the dealer wasn’t willing to swap for 18”s.

So, should I be concerned about that loss of 2” of sidewall in airing down? Any experience on sand with the 20”s? Eventually I may replace the wheels, but if it’s only for a couple times a year I may not.

Thoughts?
 

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Beach driving Outer Banks (OBX)

I too would like to know if anyone has experience or advice on driving on the beach with the 20" wheels. Should we air down? Are there any nuances that we should be aware of. Any input on this would be appreciated as I plan on going to the Outer Banks in 6 weeks and give beach driving a go. Thanks
 

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I had no issues with beach driving on my previous vehicle with 20" wheels and 265/50R20 tires and yes, I did air down, although not to the extent that some folks do. I had a small compressor with me to air back up after leaving the beach, although it wasn't needed because a local fuel station had a (thankfully working) air pump available.
 

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I too would like to know if anyone has experience or advice on driving on the beach with the 20" wheels. Should we air down? Are there any nuances that we should be aware of. Any input on this would be appreciated as I plan on going to the Outer Banks in 6 weeks and give beach driving a go. Thanks
To which part of OBX are you headed? Please post about your experience afterward! I have the 18" wheels wrapped in stock tires and I'm planning on heading to the Corolla area in July most likely. Its the closest to me and I don't want to mess with getting permits.
 

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It is always best to air down. I never took mine on a true beach on the 20's, but I did do some sand driving. It was pretty uneventful.

The problem with mushy-wet sand or fine soft sand is that if you cannot air down enough, you will push a sand berm in front of you, which means you're building an eventually insurmountable hill. It's harsh on the engine and transmission as well.

With the 20's, you can't air down as much as I'd prefer. I air down my 17's to 15-19psi. I think that would destroy the 20's. I don't think I'd take them lower than 25 psi, but that's a LOT of work for the drivetrain.

I swapped my tires as soon as possible for exactly those reasons.
 

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Just as an FYI, I drove out on the beach down on Hatteras Island in my Crosstrek. They were 17s not 20s (or even 18s), and yes the Trek is much lighter. However, on the drive out to the water I didn't air down at all and had no problems. Once out there I'm like, "Ooops, forgot to air down", so I aired them down to ~20psi. On the way back off the beach, I tried to cross some deeper ruts made by other, bigger trucks and she bottomed out and the tranny overheated, which kicked on my CEL, and kicked off all the other electronic stuff (VDC, CC, etc..) and killed the engine's ability to rev higher or get any power to the wheels/tires. So, the reason I'm typing this is to caution (perhaps not as much for 20s as the 18s), if you do air down keep in mind it does lower your ground clearance, so watch out for ruts, and also pay attention to the temps, the sand on the day my tranny overheated was scorching as the air temp was almost 100. At slower speeds and with less ground clearance, there's far less air flow beneath the car. Other than that the Subie rocked driving on sand. When I drove out to the water on the sound side of the island, where the sand isn't as soft, she might as well have been on pavement. I've also driven down "dirt" roads in north FL, where "dirt" means "sand", with no issues at all, and without airing down at all either.
 

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Interesting thread... I was thinking about taking the family out to Pismo Beach this summer and wondered if there are any settings we should shut off or turn on as well?
 

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Interesting thread... I was thinking about taking the family out to Pismo Beach this summer and wondered if there are any settings we should shut off or turn on as well?
Not really. And, since all four wheels are powered, with VDC on, the car will do its best to prevent you from digging yourself in and getting stuck. Use X-Mode, if you want.
 

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We just came back from the OBX where we drove 10 miles up the beach to Carova....we have a limited with the 20" wheels...we ran 20-25lbs as a recommendation from the rental agency office we were using. No issues what so ever! Definitely make sure you have an option to add air back into the tires before you drive too far on the pavement. You'll wreck the sidewalls pretty quickly otherwise. On another note, when we dropped the pressure in the tires, Subaru sent us a text message indicating it noticed the tire pressure was down and that we should address it immediately. Big brother watching! lol.
 

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Before I received my Ascent, last summer I drove my '07 Pilot up to Carova on OBX. Aired down to around 16PSI and even though we had no trouble, I never really felt confident. That beach has some deep ruts and I could feel the sand being pushed underneath. Glad to hear that the Limited with 20" wheels worked well for you. I think I want to swap out to 18" wheels eventually so I can drive the beaches with more confidence. I would even consider getting the yearly pass for Island Beach State Park here in NJ. I'm just curious if I do go with 18" tires what would be the trade off. I absolutely love how my Ascent drives and handle with the 20' tires so if anyone swapped out to 18" tires I would appreciate your feedback.
 

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While we're on the subject of sand driving, what kind of jack is best for using on the sand? I'm hoping to not get stuck, but I also like to push the limits. I never know where they are until I find them!


No thanks to this specific thread I'm now planning on going to Corolla on memorial day weekend. I'm bringing the kids for extra labor in case I need to dig myself out!
 

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I have an Ascent Limited. I didn’t do anything to air down my tires. I did have my tires replaced to Michelins but still 20”. I just spent 4 days in Port Aransas Beach in Texas. I had no problem what so ever. Soft sand and dunes I was fine!!
 

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I have an Ascent Limited. I didn’t do anything to air down my tires. I did have my tires replaced to Michelins but still 20”. I just spent 4 days in Port Aransas Beach in Texas. I had no problem what so ever. Soft sand and dunes I was fine!!
Our sand is very different, and I've watched massive 4x4s get stuck.

So, our sand definitely requires airing down. But, our mud is easier than out west, where it's gloopier and full of clay.

It's odd how conditions are so different.

Regardless, airing down will make it a lot easier on the drive train.
 

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While we're on the subject of sand driving, what kind of jack is best for using on the sand? I'm hoping to not get stuck, but I also like to push the limits. I never know where they are until I find them!


No thanks to this specific thread I'm now planning on going to Corolla on memorial day weekend. I'm bringing the kids for extra labor in case I need to dig myself out!

I'd say the best jack is the one you place on a wide, flat board before jacking the car up to keep it from sinking into the sand. I would use (I've never needed to myself, although I've seen it done) the same hunk of board I have for placing behind the wheel to get a bit of traction for driving out of a rut (I have done this).
 

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I'd say the best jack is the one you place on a wide, flat board before jacking the car up to keep it from sinking into the sand. I would use (I've never needed to myself, although I've seen it done) the same hunk of board I have for placing behind the wheel to get a bit of traction for driving out of a rut (I have done this).
So I have a couple 2x6's and a 12x12 hunk of plywood. They fit nicely on the trunk floor. I'm hoping its overkill but I'd rather have it and not need it than vice versa. I'm probably going to just use the oem jack (well hopefully I won't have to use it), but I was considering getting a bottle jack to take along.
 
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