My Flat Tire Story - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
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My Flat Tire Story

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!" )

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 07:27 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, and one more question. Is 10-15 blocks at slow speed really too far to drive on a flat tire? To ruin it and make it unpatchable? Are tires more sensitive than in the old days? I've driven with a flat to the nearest highway exit, off the ramp, to a gas station, in the past. (It was snowing hard and I REALLY didn't want to change it on the side of the highway).

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 08:09 AM
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I had a completely flat tire (rear left) recently and drove for about 50 ft until I noticed the noise from it. Tire not damaged as I was driving at a low speed and such a short distance however it does have heavy marks on the side wall left by the rim. Had to replace mine since it punched through side wall. I don't think it's a problem to put donut on front/rear as long as u drive at a slow speed. But my mechanic told me the donut tire has to be at 60 psi.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 08:12 AM
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I wouldn't worry too much about driving with the doughnut on the front for 20 miles, not ideal but the system is fairly robust and 20 miles isn't very long. Driving on a flat tire would theoretically be worse for the AWD as the rolling diameter on a flat tire is smaller than a doughnut, but most likely you'll be fine.

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Oh, and one more question. Is 10-15 blocks at slow speed really too far to drive on a flat tire? To ruin it and make it unpatchable? Are tires more sensitive than in the old days?
Modern tires aren't more "sensitive", it all just depends on how flat the tire is, most likely your last flat tire was slightly less flat. However modern cars do tend to have larger rims and as a result have less sidewall, so in a sense there is less margin to play with, but any rim/tire combo can become deflated to the point that damage occurs.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeU View Post
Oh, and one more question. Is 10-15 blocks at slow speed really too far to drive on a flat tire? To ruin it and make it unpatchable? Are tires more sensitive than in the old days? I've driven with a flat to the nearest highway exit, off the ramp, to a gas station, in the past. (It was snowing hard and I REALLY didn't want to change it on the side of the highway).
@JoeU ,

Thanks for posting. We all learn from questions. Other folks will probably have definitive answers.

My guesses in response to your questions:
  • If the tire was very flat, driving that far probably de-laminated the sidewalls, and that's what the first shop saw. Secondly, if you attribute the flat to potholes, that type of tire damage itself is often irreparable.
  • I'd say using the spare the way you did caused no harm.
  • As to insurance for tire damage, the wording sounds like you could have purchased it, and did not.

Just guesses though.

-skid
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 08:36 AM
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Go to M.I.C. Tires L.I.C. They supply 90% of the tires in New York City. Long Island City NY Wheel Alignments & Tires | M.I.C. Tire Pros
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, everyone! Good quick feedback. This is a terrific forum.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 08:45 AM
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@JoeU , pilots say that any landing you're able to walk away from is a good landing. So, you did good.

My question for anyone: do the newer models with CVT still need that fuse trick to convert to FWD vs AWD? If so, JoeU, you may have escaped a second bullet.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-12-2016, 08:33 AM
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My question for anyone: do the newer models with CVT still need that fuse trick to convert to FWD vs AWD? If so, JoeU, you may have escaped a second bullet.
No, the FWD/AWD fuse trick is gone.

Highly unlikely that you damaged the vehicle driving 20 miles on the doughnut on the front. FWIW, the doughnut spare on the 2014+ isn't that much smaller in diameter than the full-size tire. Much less difference than on older Subarus.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-12-2016, 08:44 AM
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I also rolled 50ft or so on a flat and wrecked the tire. When the tire shop pulled it off the inside was full of dust/shavings, and wear marks inside from the rim. Tire shop said they wouldn't/couldn't mount it back up for liability reasons.


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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-12-2016, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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One quick update. I called Subaru this morning and they confirmed that I do have tire protection. (It's included in the gold plus extended warranty).

To make the claim, I had to write a letter with the VIN, the date and cause (I said pothole) of the damage, the miles on the car, and the receipt for the repair (the new tire plus mount and balance).

They say I will have reimbursement in 30 days. Hope so!
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