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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

I have a 2011 Outback 3.6R the I have modded pretty heavily over the past few months. I have an LP 2" lift, King springs, Bilstein B6 struts, and Falken Wildpeak AT3 tires. I'm pretty confident my car won't have any issues but my main concern is getting a flat when i'm out in the boonies on uneven terrain. I've been thinking about getting a plug kit for my car because I don't think my spare will fit an AT tire. I also only have a travel jack which might not do well on uneven surfaces. I was reading you can stick a 4x4 under the jack as a spacer when your car has a lift however. I also air out my tires before I go though rocks and/or mud, but what's the best and most affordable measure to take in case you do get a flat when off-road? Will i need to invest in a better jack or spare? Or will a plug kit and travel jack work just fine? Let me know what you guys think.

-Dylan
 

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I’ve used good quality plug kits (ARB & DynaPlug) on several vehicles. In general they work well & I’ve only had to change a tire when sidewalls get damaged. You probably already carry a compressor if you’re airing down, so filling the plugged tire back up shouldn’t be a problem.

If you’ve not used a plug kit before, make sure you use the awl to enlarge the hole before trying to insert the plug. This is less necessary with the DynaPlug style as those use a stainless steel barrel to insert a small diameter plug into the tire. Many videos out there.

For jacking - I carry several pieces of 2x10” lumber to place under the jack if needed. If the flat tire lowers the car so you can’t get the compressed jack underneath, then I drive that tire up onto a piece or two of the 2x10 lumber - that usually raises the car enough to slide the jack in place. While many folks like complex jacks such as High Lifts, I personally avoid them for routine work like fixing flats.

Full disclosure - my use of these techniques hasn’t yet included an Outback!

Howard
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I’ve used good quality plug kits (ARB & DynaPlug) on several vehicles. In general they work well & I’ve only had to change a tire when sidewalls get damaged. You probably already carry a compressor if you’re airing down, so filling the plugged tire back up shouldn’t be a problem.

If you’ve not used a plug kit before, make sure you use the awl to enlarge the hole before trying to insert the plug. This is less necessary with the DynaPlug style as those use a stainless steel barrel to insert a small diameter plug into the tire. Many videos out there.

For jacking - I carry several pieces of 2x10” lumber to place under the jack if needed. If the flat tire lowers the car so you can’t get the compressed jack underneath, then I drive that tire up onto a piece or two of the 2x10 lumber - that usually raises the car enough to slide the jack in place. While many folks like complex jacks such as High Lifts, I personally avoid them for routine work like fixing flats.

Full disclosure - my use of these techniques hasn’t yet included an Outback!

Howard
Thanks for the input Howard. I look into those plug kits. Do you think the travel jack will work fine? Or should I invest in a better one? Also, if I do need to plug my tire, do I need to take my wheel completely off or can I plug it while it's still on the hub?
 

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2010 2.5i 6MT
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I have a similar lift setup as yours and I took out the jack that came in mine and got a much taller bottle jack with a 6x6 piece of wood to put under it in my car. If you try your travel jack with your lift you'll likely find it is not tall enough to be able to get a wheel off.

I keep a tire plug kit and smittybilt compressor in the back of my car in case of flats. I also have a full size spare. Gotta have options.
 

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If your off road terrain includes jagged rocks, a flat may be a gutted sidewall in which case a plug kit won't work.
Depending on where you're going, you may want to carry a full size spare (could even be a regular street tire). Unfortunately, that's not simple with a Gen4.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If your off road terrain includes jagged rocks, a flat may be a gutted sidewall in which case a plug kit won't work.
Depending on where you're going, you may want to carry a full size spare (could even be a regular street tire). Unfortunately, that's not simple with a Gen4.

The terrain more than likely will include jagged rocks at some point and you also bring up a a good point about side walls. If I were to get a full size spare wouldn’t the tire have to be the same as my AT tires? I have Falken Wildpeak AT3 tires in 225/65/R17 so i’m not sure that will fit under the floor in the hatch.
 

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I did not even use my jack repairing my last 3 flat tires. I just drove my outback forward or reverse a few inches to expose the puncture and used the plug kit for the repair. Just follow Howard70's advice and enlarge the puncture area. After plugging the tire I used my portable inflator and I was good to go. I keep a plug kit, portable inflator, fire extinguisher, tool kit, jump starter and blanket in storage box in the rear.
 

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Thanks for the input Howard. I look into those plug kits. Do you think the travel jack will work fine? Or should I invest in a better one? Also, if I do need to plug my tire, do I need to take my wheel completely off or can I plug it while it's still on the hub?
Hello Dylan:
I think others have provided better advice about jacks than I can - I’ve not used the travel jack. A bottle jack can work well, but on other vehicles I’ve had trouble getting them under an unsprung lifting point for a completely flat tire.
If you jack from a sprung lifting point you might have to lift a lot to compensate for the suspension sag.

If you have space to work the awl and insert the plug you don’t need to remove the tire. If the fender well is close to the tire preventing access you can drive until the puncture is clear of the fender & plug (rear tire) or rotate the steering to get the tire into a better position (front) or jack from a sprung lifting point & let suspension sag increase access - all tricks to avoid removing a wheel for plugging.

As Dukey mentioned, plugging won’t fix all tire failures and should never replace carrying a functional spare tire.

Howard
 

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After years of softroading adventure I finally got a puncture many miles from anywhere. This was with Michelin Defender all season tires, which honestly got my pretty far over the life of two sets. Big ass roofing nail on a dirt road entered my tire tread at a perfect 90 degree angle. Slime tire puncture repair kit and Viair 88p compressor saved the day. My only 'training' for this was actually buying those tools and watching youtube videos. Its remarkably uncomplicated and I drove on the repaired tire for months after, though Slime tells you you shouldn't and others say its fine. This gave me the needed excuse to finally up level to all terrain tires, specifically the Falken Wildpeak AT Trail.

Don't cheap out, get the Slime or other brand repair kit with the metal handles, not plastic, which I've read can break leaving your hand punctured as well as the tire. Have a flat head screwdriver and pliers to remove the nail, screw, whatever. You 'file' the hole with the auger tool, then insert the plug till the two tips are still sticking out a half inch, yank out with plug tool and the plug remains. Fill tire. I've seen videos of folks jamming a bunch of plugs in a sidewall gash and were able to limp out.

Here's my line of defense - sans full size spare - to ensure I'm not totally stuck in the middle of nowhere. First, be mindful, know the limits of the Subaru and go slow over jagged, threatening terrain. Second, AT tires. Third, air down over threatening road surface. Fourth, tire repair kit and compressor. Fifth, I'll limp out on the donut spare going 5 mph if I have to. I can't fit a full size spare on the roof with my roof box, which I need for full camping load out. It'd cost me well over $1000 to get a trailer hitch, then a swing down or swing out spare tire carrier, then a spare wheel and tire. Only one remote tire puncture event in 20 yrs of playing with Subarus off pavement. Accommodating full size spare is a pretty big and expensive proposition, if you go that route it should only be after you've secured a repair kit and compressor, which you can do for $100.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
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Bottle jacks are a relatively cheap & easy way to get extra lift & a bit more stability compared to the OEM scissor jack. Just make sure you get an adapter so you don't damage the pinch weld.

If you're just doing driving on graded dirt/gravel roads, then you could probably get away with just a plug kit. Anything more serious (and based on what you've done to your rig, you are), I'd recommend just getting a full-size spare. Plug kits are good for small punctures in the tread, or in rare cases you can get away with minor sidewall repair if you have no other options. But in the event of a gash in your sidewall, your tire coming off the bead, or damage to your rim, a plug kit won't help. And as a bonus over a donut or other temporary repair, you don't necessarily have to abandon your trip, or make emergency plans!

The only problem with the full-size spare, for many, is simply figuring out where to put it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Bottle jacks are a relatively cheap & easy way to get extra lift & a bit more stability compared to the OEM scissor jack. Just make sure you get an adapter so you don't damage the pinch weld.
Thanks for the input. I manned up and purchased a full size spare from Tire Rack. It might not fit where the donut was (even deflated) but I have a roof basket I can put it on. Next is a bottle jack, jack stands, impact wrench and a 6x6 piece of wood for the extra clearance.

If you're just doing driving on graded dirt/gravel roads, then you could probably get away with just a plug kit. Anything more serious (and based on what you've done to your rig, you are), I'd recommend just getting a full-size spare. Plug kits are good for small punctures in the tread, or in rare cases you can get away with minor sidewall repair if you have no other options. But in the event of a gash in your sidewall, your tire coming off the bead, or damage to your rim, a plug kit won't help. And as a bonus over a donut or other temporary repair, you don't necessarily have to abandon your trip, or make emergency plans!

The only problem with the full-size spare, for many, is simply figuring out where to put it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I’ve seen guys put a full size tire up top on a rack… looks pretty cool too


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After years of softroading adventure I finally got a puncture many miles from anywhere. This was with Michelin Defender all season tires, which honestly got my pretty far over the life of two sets. Big ass roofing nail on a dirt road entered my tire tread at a perfect 90 degree angle. Slime tire puncture repair kit and Viair 88p compressor saved the day. My only 'training' for this was actually buying those tools and watching youtube videos. Its remarkably uncomplicated and I drove on the repaired tire for months after, though Slime tells you you shouldn't and others say its fine. This gave me the needed excuse to finally up level to all terrain tires, specifically the Falken Wildpeak AT Trail.

Don't cheap out, get the Slime or other brand repair kit with the metal handles, not plastic, which I've read can break leaving your hand punctured as well as the tire. Have a flat head screwdriver and pliers to remove the nail, screw, whatever. You 'file' the hole with the auger tool, then insert the plug till the two tips are still sticking out a half inch, yank out with plug tool and the plug remains. Fill tire. I've seen videos of folks jamming a bunch of plugs in a sidewall gash and were able to limp out.

Here's my line of defense - sans full size spare - to ensure I'm not totally stuck in the middle of nowhere. First, be mindful, know the limits of the Subaru and go slow over jagged, threatening terrain. Second, AT tires. Third, air down over threatening road surface. Fourth, tire repair kit and compressor. Fifth, I'll limp out on the donut spare going 5 mph if I have to. I can't fit a full size spare on the roof with my roof box, which I need for full camping load out. It'd cost me well over $1000 to get a trailer hitch, then a swing down or swing out spare tire carrier, then a spare wheel and tire. Only one remote tire puncture event in 20 yrs of playing with Subarus off pavement. Accommodating full size spare is a pretty big and expensive proposition, if you go that route it should only be after you've secured a repair kit and compressor, which you can do for $100.
Finally got the full sized spare (Pirelli Scorpion AT in 225/65/17) and it definitely won't fit in the spare compartment without being shaved. I do have a roof basket but will have to lighten my camping load a bit to accommodate it for more serious over-landing trips. I guess i'll have to leave my huge 8 person tent behind if I do but at least I have some peace of mind. Also picked up a bottle jack, pinch weld adapter, and jack stands. Thanks for the advice. I feel much better prepared now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Finally got the full sized spare (Pirelli Scorpion AT in 225/65/17) and it definitely won't fit in the spare compartment without being shaved. I do have a roof basket but will have to lighten my camping load a bit to accommodate it for more serious over-landing trips. I guess i'll have to leave my huge 8 person tent behind if I do but at least I have some peace of mind. Also picked up a bottle jack, pinch weld adapter, and jack stands. Thanks for the advice. I feel much better prepared now.
 
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