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This morning we woke up to a completely flat front passenger tire. This is a 5 month old new 2019 Forester with ~3000 miles on it. This is our first Subaru and our first AWD car so this is our first foray into the joys of AWD tire maintenance, so I'd love some advice from those of you with more experience in dealing with these issues. My main questions are these:
  1. If it is possible to patch the tire, is that something dealers are generally willing to do?
  2. If it is not possible to patch, or if a dealer won't patch it, can we get away with only replacing a single tire? My understanding is that the tires' tread depth need to be within 2/32" of an inch of each other? I'm hoping that with only 3000 miles the tread depth is still pretty close to that of a new tire.
  3. I've also heard that it is possible to shave tires to match tread depth - I'm assuming this is something a dealer won't do? Have others taken this option? If so, where did you go?
Also, as a side note, my wife called AAA (I had to go to work in our other car) and they came out and put on the spare... but they just stupidly plopped the spare on the front (you would think New England AAA would be more used to dealing with AWD cars). When my wife called back AAA refused to come out and move the spare to the back. AAA offered to just tow the car to the dealer. The dealer (10 miles away) said it would be fine to drive it with the spare on the front to the dealer (perhaps a conflict of interest on their part... "oh look, your AWD needs to be replaced too!"). Sigh.
 

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At only 3000 miles you should be able to get away with a new tire without a problem. Shouldn't need to shave the tire.

AAA should definitely know better than to put a spare on the front. dopes.
 

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@ryanb - No reason to replace a repairable tire and no reason to replace all with only 3K on them.
There is generally no good reason to go to a dealership for tires.
Your tire can be repaired provided you didn't drive on it while severely underinflated, and if the damage that caused the leak isn't in the sidewall of the tire or close to it. It's pretty easy to see.
Have you bothered to try to fill the tire with air and/or see where the damage is? It is always a good idea to know what is going on before you take your vehicle somewhere where they have a vested interest in finding an expensive problem...
Just about any service station or tire dealer can do the same tire repair, but the dealer may charge you more... Maybe not. Why do you intend to go to the dealership?
Do you get a free flat repair with them?
 

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The spare is the same circumference and will not cause an issue on the front. Especially in 10 miles. The vehicle only comes with one jack so if you had a flat on the highway then Subaru expects you to just mount the spare on whatever position was flat. Not an issue. Also as others have said. With only 3,000 miles I'd plug or only replace the one tire. If it's just a nail hole then I'd just plug it. I've never had a plug fail, ever....
That's not what Subaru expects. It's called out in the manual.

"The temporary spare tire must be used only on a rear wheel. If a front wheel tire gets punctured, replace the wheel with a rear wheel and install the temporary spare tire in place of the removed rear wheel. "
 

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That's not what Subaru expects. It's called out in the manual.

"The temporary spare tire must be used only on a rear wheel. If a front wheel tire gets punctured, replace the wheel with a rear wheel and install the temporary spare tire in place of the removed rear wheel. "
I stand corrected. You're right. It makes little sense to me since it's AWD so all 4 wheels need to rotate at or close to the same speed, front or rear. I guess the rear differential is more tolerable to different wheel speeds.
 

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No donut spare on the front because of steering. If it's the front that's flat, then it's:

  • Donut to the rear
  • Rear to the front
  • Front to the shop
I've replaced only one tire on two very new Foresters, with no ill effects.
 

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It's not the same size. It's not a full size spare, not the same circumference, and has a different rotational speed. If you put it on the front, you will experience a pull on the side it's mounted on which is bad for stability.
 

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This morning we woke up to a completely flat front passenger tire. This is a 5 month old new 2019 Forester with ~3000 miles on it. This is our first Subaru and our first AWD car so this is our first foray into the joys of AWD tire maintenance, so I'd love some advice from those of you with more experience in dealing with these issues. My main questions are these:
  1. If it is possible to patch the tire, is that something dealers are generally willing to do?
  2. If it is not possible to patch, or if a dealer won't patch it, can we get away with only replacing a single tire? My understanding is that the tires' tread depth need to be within 2/32" of an inch of each other? I'm hoping that with only 3000 miles the tread depth is still pretty close to that of a new tire.
  3. I've also heard that it is possible to shave tires to match tread depth - I'm assuming this is something a dealer won't do? Have others taken this option? If so, where did you go?
Also, as a side note, my wife called AAA (I had to go to work in our other car) and they came out and put on the spare... but they just stupidly plopped the spare on the front (you would think New England AAA would be more used to dealing with AWD cars). When my wife called back AAA refused to come out and move the spare to the back. AAA offered to just tow the car to the dealer. The dealer (10 miles away) said it would be fine to drive it with the spare on the front to the dealer (perhaps a conflict of interest on their part... "oh look, your AWD needs to be replaced too!"). Sigh.
I plug all my tires. The roads around here are littered with nails, screws, bits of metal that get swepped off the back of pickups. I have 3 cars and a motorcycle, so I bought me a tire patch kit. At least 2 or 3 times a year, I am patching a tire.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

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It's not the same size. It's not a full size spare, not the same circumference, and has a different rotational speed. If you put it on the front, you will experience a pull on the side it's mounted on which is bad for stability.
OK, OK, OK, I got it guys... I read that section of the manual again right after you corrected me. I know it's not a full size spare but I wrongly assumed it was at least the same diameter and just narrower. I was wrong. Got it.
 

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Worse case the tire is not repairable you can replace it. Worst worse case it's not within 2/32" you can have a new tire shaved down to match the others.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks so much everyone for the super helpful replies. I thought I'd give a bit of an update.
  • As I noted in my original post AAA New England refused to put the donut on the rear, and now I have more of an explanation as to why. Their stated reason is that as a matter of company policy they won't touch a perfectly functional wheel because if something happens to it while they are moving it, they don't want to be liable for it. If we had called Subaru's Roadside Assistance, I wonder if they would also have the same policy even if it conflicts with Subaru's manual (I recognize that Subaru contracts out their roadside assistance so in the end it could be the same tow company that does the service...)
  • @DragonSubie7 asked why I was going to go to the dealer. I guess I didn't have too much of a good reason other than I assumed that if the tire could not be repaired then they'd be likely to have a matching stock OEM tire on hand. That said, the comment helpfully challenged my assumptions and in the end I decided to take the car to a closer tire shop.
  • Because I was going only a couple of miles away, I kept the donut on the front where AAA put it. I can confirm that the car pulls hard to the right when braking. Hopefully this is the only issue and I'm not ruining the differential in the process... but in any event it's only about 2 miles.
  • The tire shop looked at the tire and found the puncture. Unfortunately it's on the outermost tread and they said they can't (or won't) repair those. Had the puncture been closer to the center treads they would have had no issue patching it. They said the tread wear on relatively new tires shouldn't be an issue so they are going to replace just the one tire.
  • Unfortunately, they didn't have a matching tire so they are ordering it and I'll have to wait until tomorrow to get it replaced (so maybe in the end I should have gone to a dealer after all...)
In any event, thanks everyone for the advice. This was super helpful and makes me glad to be a part of this community.
 

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  • As I noted in my original post AAA New England refused to put the donut on the rear, and now I have more of an explanation as to why. Their stated reason is that as a matter of company policy they won't touch a perfectly functional wheel because if something happens to it while they are moving it, they don't want to be liable for it.
Huh? Lame excuse.
 

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@ryanb - They made the right call on the tire. The reason they don't repair a tire with a puncture near the sidewall is because tires flex considerably there, and it is unlikely (unsafe) that the repair will last. If you ever get another flat, just inflate the tire (buy a small portable compressor powered by your 12volt outlet at any auto parts store) and move the car until you can see where the puncture is. Anything an inch away from the sidewall on the tire tread can likely be safely repaired, and closer to the sidewall likely not.
It's a good idea to keep a compressor in the car, because most punctures in tubeless tires tend to leak very slowly, and you can often avoid the need to change a tire by inflating it and driving the car somewhere to be repaired.
Out of the last 25 or 30 times I've had a flat, on only two occasions did I actually need to put on the spare.
I just inflated the flat tire, checked how much air I was losing and drove the car to the local station for repair. If it's a long drive, you can stop and refill the tire again if needed. That only happened to me on a couple of occasions.
Of all of those flats on a Subaru, only once did I need a full set of tires, although I took another option and traded in the 3 other tires for a credit and bought 4 new ones, which provided an upgrade.
The stock tires on most cars aren't the best.
I guess you are up in New England, so I don't think Discount Tire is up there, but they and other tire shop chains often provide free flat repairs, road hazard warranties etc. that can help you significantly in the long run.

Before you drive somewhere to get a replacement, let your "fingers do the walking" and find the best deal online for your area, and verify what you need is in stock either online or via a phone call.
I would never drive somewhere without knowing if a tire was in stock and what the price is.
It can save you money and a wasted drive.

Finally, you may want to get in the habit of checking your tire pressures yourself in the morning, when it is cold, the sun hasn't warmed the tires up, and you haven't driven yet, as that's the way you should do it.
If your car provides a per tire readout of the current air pressure in each, great. Otherwise, it only takes a minute to manually check your tire pressure.
Buy a tire pressure gauge (a good one isn't expensive) along with the compressor (the pressure indicators at service stations are notoriously inaccurate) and add air as needed with your compressor.
Some will wait until their tire pressure warning light goes on, but your tires can be under inflated without the warning light being on, which costs you gas money from lowered miles per gallon, and reduces the life of your tires..
 

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In the future, if you have to replace only one tire, do so, just make sure to shave the tire before installation. Most of the tire shops will tell you that nobody shaves tire or even look at you like you are some crazy but there are places that do shave. Tirerack shaves the tire to match with rest of the treads of your tires if you buy from them.

Bottom line, depending on how rest of the tires are, you do not have to change all of them.
 

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This morning we woke up to a completely flat front passenger tire. This is a 5 month old new 2019 Forester with ~3000 miles on it. This is our first Subaru and our first AWD car so this is our first foray into the joys of AWD tire maintenance, so I'd love some advice from those of you with more experience in dealing with these issues. My main questions are these:
  1. If it is possible to patch the tire, is that something dealers are generally willing to do?
  2. If it is not possible to patch, or if a dealer won't patch it, can we get away with only replacing a single tire? My understanding is that the tires' tread depth need to be within 2/32" of an inch of each other? I'm hoping that with only 3000 miles the tread depth is still pretty close to that of a new tire.
  3. I've also heard that it is possible to shave tires to match tread depth - I'm assuming this is something a dealer won't do? Have others taken this option? If so, where did you go?
Also, as a side note, my wife called AAA (I had to go to work in our other car) and they came out and put on the spare... but they just stupidly plopped the spare on the front (you would think New England AAA would be more used to dealing with AWD cars). When my wife called back AAA refused to come out and move the spare to the back. AAA offered to just tow the car to the dealer. The dealer (10 miles away) said it would be fine to drive it with the spare on the front to the dealer (perhaps a conflict of interest on their part... "oh look, your AWD needs to be replaced too!"). Sigh.
I hit a huge crater and blew out a tire in my 2013 impreza when it was new with just 3k miles and tire was ruined. I just bought 1 new tire the same exact one that was on the car. Tire shop had to order it but there was no problem. 118 k on car now. But have tire looked at first. It may just be a nail hole that can be plugged or patched. Good luck
 

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I hit a curb at 2k miles and it did in the tire and had major road rash on rim if u search the forum you’ll read my account on it. With recommended tire information from dealer service advisor. I lucked out bought a barely used stock rim and same brand and model new tire at a steep discount and have almost 7k on my Fozzi with no after effects yet!
 
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