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Discussion Starter #1
Have an 03 LLBean that I've owned since new. I've never had to use the donut spare. I take it out a couple times a year and check the pressure and grease the bolt, but that's it. Couple questions for any wizards out there.

1. Is the 14+ year old donut still safe to use? The Outback is garaged so protected from a lot of the heat of a Virginia summer, but what about dry rot?

2. I've done a lot of searches and it appears that replacing the donut with a full-sized spare will take away the foam cargo tray that sits above it, but all those posts seem to be for later Outbacks. Anybody done this with a Gen 2?

Thanks.
 

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02 Pair: 3.0 VDC Wag & 2.5 Limited Sedan
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keep it filled,

and carry a portable pump. slow leaks can be maintained with the portable pump without using the donut spare.

takes a long long long time for a donut spare to develope cracks. and you are only going to use it to get to a tire shop anyway. (slow and on the rear). have not read here of anyone replacing one with a newer one,

unless they ruined the donut too. ...one time on a 86 wagon I had a flat from a bolt in a tire, I pulled the spare off the engine. that was flat too.

I put the spare on, figuring the larger donut rim was just tall enough for me to limp 2 miles down the road to a tire shop. they plugged/ patched the regular tire,....and just put air in the donut.

never damaged it,... and I still have that cracked old spare today, nice to hold down tarps. (car's been gone 16 years).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
and carry a portable pump. slow leaks can be maintained with the portable pump without using the donut spare.

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Thanks. I don't have a portable pump, just the big electric one in the garage to check tire pressures. I'll have to get one.

BTW, I took a magnifying glass and closely checked the sidewalls of the donut for any cracks. Didn't see any. Tread is perfect. It even smells like a new tire.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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People with garage kept show cars have "like-new" tires blow. Maybe spares are constructed differently (i don't know) and they are driven from A-B, not A-tire shop. But I'd suspect 15 year old spares are degraded.

You've gone 15 years at this point, so you're unlikely to need it unlikely to drive fast, and unlikely to go far if you do...so question probably doesn't matter. quantitative feedback will be hard to find, in which case we will all just default to the same practice as the last 15 years...do nothing.

If I was really curious about this question, I might look to the RV and trailer forums/people/service places. Some of them are in the habit and practice of knowing tires, taking proactive approaches to maintaining tires that don't get used often or consistently. I don't know if they take precautions in order to extend the life of the tires beyond typical daily driver uses, or only to prevent degradation from sitting during normal tire life expectancy. What kind of life do they get out of tires and why?

Then again - those aren't spares - I'm not sure if they're manufactured differently since they're application is considerably different.
 

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Keeping a tire out of sunlight counts for a lot.

I wonder if temporary spare rubber stock is formulated for better shelf life? Knowing that they only have to last 50 miles at low speeds plus appropriate safety margins probably allows them some flexibility. Then again the bean counters want to get these done for about fourteen cents per car, so maybe not.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback H6 - 3.0 VDC EZ30D engin
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Personally, I prefer a full-size spare. It's true that a full-size spare cannot fit in the same space as the donut. Even with the foam removed, I couldn't fit it mine in place. I keep my full-size spare standing upright and held in place with bungee cables.

Here's my thinking for what it's worth: In case of emergency situations I might be far from a trusted tire shop. I might be in bad weather conditions. I might be on the side of a dangerous highway with only a narrow shoulder. What if I pop a front tire? Do I want to spend extra time swapping a rear wheel with a front wheel while I'm standing on the shoulder in the dark and the rain? What if it's two days before payday and money is tight? Do I want to put myself in financial constraints because of an unexpected tire replacement?

Here's how I came up with a full-size spare without spending a fortune: last time I was buying new tires, I asked the tire guy to pick the tire with the least wear on the tread and save that for me. I went to Chesterfield Auto Salvage in Richmond. I pulled an alloy wheel. Then I brought the wheel and tire back to the tire place and had them mount and balance for a small fee. Altogether it didn't cost me much, and I feel more confident in case of a little emergency.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Personally, I prefer a full-size spare. It's true that a full-size spare cannot fit in the same space as the donut. Even with the foam removed, I couldn't fit it mine in place. I keep my full-size spare standing upright and held in place with bungee cables.
Thanks for the confirmation about not fitting a full-sized spare in the back. That's what I suspected.

The tire in the back end standing up won't work for me because I've got a pet barrier in there and I need to fit three large dogs back there. They just fit now, but not for long trips.

One option I'm looking at is putting it in the roof basket with a vinyl cover. That would also give me space where the spare went to store stuff.
 

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Personally, I prefer a full-size spare. It's true that a full-size spare cannot fit in the same space as the donut. Even with the foam removed, I couldn't fit it mine in place. I keep my full-size spare standing upright and held in place with bungee cables.

Here's my thinking for what it's worth: In case of emergency situations I might be far from a trusted tire shop. I might be in bad weather conditions. I might be on the side of a dangerous highway with only a narrow shoulder. What if I pop a front tire? Do I want to spend extra time swapping a rear wheel with a front wheel while I'm standing on the shoulder in the dark and the rain?
If it were me in the situation described, I'd put the donut on the front, then, if the flat wasn't going to be repaired immediately (like within a few miles), find a safer place and then move the donut to the rear. It means jacking the car up four times in total instead of two, but seems like it would be much safer because three of those times would be in a place of your choosing.

I do agree with you about preferring a full-size spare, but I don't want to give up the space needed to store one as you describe, and don't want the hassle of carrying it on the outside, either, so the donut is it.

My last car ('00 Camry) came with a full-size spare, and it was never put on the ground in the 15 years I had it. I give the tires a quick glance nearly every day, and will measure the pressure of any that look suspicious, so slow leaks don't have much chance to become flat tires - I did have some of those in the Camry, but could get them patched, or at least inflated, which bought time until they could be patched, without needing the spare.

What if it's two days before payday and money is tight? Do I want to put myself in financial constraints because of an unexpected tire replacement?
Operating a car is expensive. My feeling is that if you're that hard up for money, you can't really afford to drive a car, but realize that as a practical matter many people must do so, anyway, out of necessity.

You could probably limp along on the donut for a few days if needed - if you didn't have to drive too far and too fast. With the newer Subarus, you wouldn't want to leave even a full-size spare on the ground for very long, either, unless it was just like the others and part of the tire rotation. This might not be as critical with some of the older models where you can disable AWD, but you're giving up having AWD for the duration then.

Here's how I came up with a full-size spare without spending a fortune: last time I was buying new tires, I asked the tire guy to pick the tire with the least wear on the tread and save that for me. I went to Chesterfield Auto Salvage in Richmond. I pulled an alloy wheel. Then I brought the wheel and tire back to the tire place and had them mount and balance for a small fee. Altogether it didn't cost me much, and I feel more confident in case of a little emergency.
That's a good plan, and since you're willing to give up the cargo space, it should serve your needs well.
 
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