On the night of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 19, 2009), I drove over a piece of debris on the 10 East while I was passing through Downtown Los Angeles and approaching the East LA interchange. During my drive to work the next morning, I noticed a white 2005-2007 Subaru Outback 2.5i in the adjacent lane to my right slogging through traffic on the 60 West with me. A minute or two later, he honked his car’s horn to get my attention. I put the right front window down for him to tell me the right rear tire was flat.
Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.
This notice completely surprised me because I did a quick walkaround (with a flashlight) when I got home the previous night looking for damage. That “inspection” was prompted by a loud bang I heard from the left front when I ran over the debris (remains from an accident?). I was really surprised the right rear tire had been affected.
As displayed above, the right rear tire’s sidewall had been slashed. By the time I pulled the car off the freeway and stopped, the air pressure reading I took showed 0 psi. I was impressed with how well the tire’s sidewall supported the weight of the corner and prevented the car from riding on the wheel/rim. Also surprising was the fact that I didn’t perceive that the tire was low. After stopping the car in a Jack-In-the-Box parking lot, I took out the 12V comprossor than came with the emergency kit I bought a while ago from the Tire Rack. Minutes later the tire was now at 37-38 psi. With air in the tire, I completed my morning commute to work. I measured the tire pressure again when I got to work and saw that it was still around 37 psi.
I decided to take the car to Stokes Tire Pros. during my lunch break for a closer inspection. There, a technician noticed the gash in the tire’s sidewall. Jack presented me with my options and I drove back to the office. My plan was to order a replacement BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S tire (P215/45R17) from the Tire Rack (I only needed one because the left rear tire was still relatively new) and have it drop-shipped to Stokes. While waiting the two days for the new tire to arrive from the Tire Rack’s distribution center in Reno, Nevada, I thought it’d be okay to use my full-size spare tire.
The gash in the sidewall was amazing in the sense that it usually remained closed which allowed the tire to retain its air. The tire didn’t lose any air over the course of my trip home! I swapped my full-size spare tire, an old Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position P215/45R17, with the right front tire and moved the right front to the right rear. Why didn’t I simply put the spare on the right rear corner? As a former summer/track tire,I knew the spare had a lot of wear on it (I prayed it wouldn’t rain) and thus, wouldn’t have a circumference similar to the left rear tire’s. Having different circumference tires on the rear corners could potentially overwork and damage the rear (limited-slip) differential.
The next morning, I snapped some shots of my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Hybrid. j/k Doesn’t the car look amazing with mismatched wheels? The replacement tire arrived around Noon on January 22nd. I went to Stokes shortly thereafter and had them replace the tire that afternoon.
In 9-1/2 years of driving, I had never lost a tire to a nail, screw, or other road hazard. It was that thinking that led me to think I would be okay without the Road Hazard warranty the Tire Rack offers. Now I’d think twice before passing up on the warranty again for my next set of street (read: primary use) tires. On one hand, it’d be great to have that protection and peace of mind. On the other hand, the coverage isn’t worth it if it’ll be another long time until I need to replace a tire or tires due to unforeseen circumstances.