New to the forum and to Subarus, although I've been reading for a few months, so I hope this is an OK thread (a bit of a long story).
I got a brand new 2017 Forester 2.5i in July. It's a great car and I'm rapidly falling in love with it (coming from a 2000 CR-V, it's a huge improvement in almost every way).
I'm in Brooklyn, New York, and work in Manhattan. Friday morning I had a very important presentation to give at 9 AM at work, and rather than taking the subway, I decided to treat myself by driving in so I'd be calm and relaxed. At 7:20 (to allow myself plenty of time for traffic problems), I went out to the car. As soon as I pulled away from the curb, I noticed the right front tire was flat. Naturally.
In this part of Brooklyn, there are flat-fix places everywhere (our streets in NYC are full of holes, and screws, and nails, and broken glass, and so forth), so I thought I would just drive slowly to the nearest one and get the tire patched and still be on time. It was about 4-5 blocks. They were closed so I drove another 4-5 blocks to the next one. Also closed.
I thought about calling roadside assistance but I didn't know how long they would take to arrive. I really needed to get to work by 9 AM! So what the hell, I changed the tire. Got my nice clothes a little dirty, it was cold, but not raining or snowing, so I considered myself lucky.
Then I drove on the spare the 9 or 10 miles to work, and actually made it by 9, no problem.
On the way home after work, I stopped at a flat-fix place in Manhattan. He took a look at the flat, and told me I drove on it for too long. Couldn't be patched. He had a used tire of the same brand (Yokohama) for $60, but no new ones of the same brand, only some Chinese knock-offs for $120 that he said definitely weren't as good.
An honest guy--he could have ripped me off easily with the Chinese knock-off or in other ways, but he said "that's a new car, and with AWD you want the four tires to be the same. Get a real Yokohama somewhere else instead." I was worried about driving home to Brooklyn still on the doughnut spare, but he said it would be fine.
So I went home, and read the manual, and saw my first mistake--I had put the doughnut spare on the front. But I had made it to work and back. And I also was worried about driving around for a total of 20 miles on the doughnut damaging the AWD.
Saturday morning I tried tire shops around and nobody had the Yokohama tire in stock. Only the dealer where I got the car (Island Subaru on Staten Island--I hope it's OK to mention them by name. They've been great) had it.
That was another 10 miles or so. But I figured to chance it. They replaced the tire, said it was no problem that I had driven on the doughnut for those distances, didn't even comment about the spare being on the front.
They also pulled up my VIN number with Subaru and found the notation "tire protection available" in the dealer vehicle inquiry information. So they thought I could have the tire for free, but couldn't get anyone on the phone to verify that since it was Saturday. I paid (about $200) and they said I should call Subaru on Monday and gave me all the paperwork to get reimbursed for that.
So (finally) my questions:
1. How much extra wear did I put on the AWD by driving about 30 miles total (always below 50 mph, mostly below 35 mph. The vast majority at 25 mph) with that doughnut spare on the front right side?
2. The car is newish still, about 2500 miles, but I like to keep cars for a long time (16 years for the last one, and that one only finally retired after being totaled in an accident). So I expect to get another flat tire or two. I guess next time, if it's the front, I'll be changing two tires. Does anyone have experience with Subaru roadside assistance in the NYC area? How long do they usually take?
3. Does "tire protection available" mean that I have tire protection? Or I could have it?
And any other advice or suggestions are welcome (including, "you idiot, how could you have made so many mistakes in one day!"