Subaru AWD

I have been browsing around on this site a little recently, and I seem to notice one particular thing about subarus. I know that you are supposed to have all tires the same because of the AWD, but I have come to realize that the spare tire is much MUCH smaller then the normal tires. Whoops, didn’t know there was a fuse to disable AWD. We have been driving once in a while and gotten a flat and used the spare without disabling AWD. Have we damaged our AWD? This is a 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback.

Well, for one, the relevant size is only the circumference of the tires, so that the doughnut spare is much narrower is not relevant. The circumference was no doubt slighty different than the rest of the tires due to wear, but it’s not as bad as running an entirely different sized tire. Driving it like that probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but if you just drove it to the shop to get the flat fixed I don’t think that one event is going to ruin your transmission.

Those donuts are normally called 60/60 tires; don’t exceed 60 mph and don’t drive more than 60 miles before changing it. These recommendations are both on the tire pamphlet with your car and the general instructions.

The instructions are for any type of drive system; the tire is not designed to last very long.

If manual transmission there is no fuse to pull. If automatic yes.

Don’t worry, or be surprised if clutch pack acts up especially in an older automatic car.

And yet, how many cars do you see blasting down the highway faster than 60 MPH and hear the owner say they’ve had the doughnut on for a couple months since they couldn’t afford to buy a new tire, or were too lazy to buy it.

If you only used the spare tire for short periods of time and limited mileage there is probably nothing worry about. Please tell us that is the case.

If there is an FWD fuse holder under the hood your car must be an automatic transmission vehicle.

Assuming you haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary with your car’s operation you’re probably OK. When the transfer clutch (inside the transmission) goes bad, you’ll know it.

You don’t pull a fuse to disable Subaru AWD, you insert a fuse.

I have owned 8 AWD Subaru’s and never touched a fuse thankfully, no automatics for me.

Interestingly enough no AWD problems either.

It’s a manual. I wasn’t aware that the fuse was only on the automatics.

AWD damage of the type you’re talking about will show itself pretty clearly. If it hasn’t happened by now you should be in the clear. Also, if the car was going to be instantly damaged by this, they would include a full-sized spare.

Well, how close is the DIAMETER of the spare tire to the other tires?

Subaru manual AWD is pure elegant mechanical fluid shear no electronics (clutch packs/solenoids etc). Failures are very rare with this Subaru AWD even with some “abuse”.

This just reinforces the importance of reading the Owner’s Manual!

Since the OP has a manual trans, he was lucky enough to dodge a bullet–this time.
But, if he had opted for the automatic trans and did not bother to read the manual, he would likely have already incurred a large repair bill.

Even though this issue turned out OK for for the OP, may I suggest that he now take the time to read the manual? It’s never too late.

Subaru in reality if such an important requirement, place a large bright sticker on the spare tire with clear directions.

Owners manuals while good in theory to read, are generally a reference not an interesting read. I have yet to read any owners manuals cover to cover. Just reference them.

While I do tend to harp on the subject of Owner’s Manuals, I also do not actually read my manuals from cover to cover. For instance, the manual for my Accord had something on the order of 10 pages devoted to how to use a seat belt! If I had not been using shoulder harnesses for years, I might have perused that section of the manual, but there was no compelling need for me to read the text on that topic.

But, as so many posts in this forum reveal, very few people even reference their Owner’s Manual!
Why else would we be getting questions like:

How often should I change my oil?
Where is the dipstick for my transmission?
What oil viscosity does my engine call for?
How do I release the shift lever on my console?
How do I disable the “child locks” on my rear doors?
What is this mysterious little warning light “icon” on my instrument panel?
What is the appropriate tire pressure for my car?
And so on, and so on, and…

When someone gets a new car, it is important to read the details on the controls, gauges, and warning lights. If the car has any technology that the owner did not have previously (ABS, VSC, AWD, Automatic Climate Control, etc) it is important to read the info on those topics.

And, it should go without saying that when confronted with an unexpected problem, the manual should be the first place to check for information. However, it almost seems that the majority of people are either not aware that they have a manual, or somehow assume that it is a technical manual, rather than something written on an 8th grade reading level that is designed to inform those who have little or no automotive knowledge. Last year, we even had a woman who adamantly stated that an automobile Owner’s Manual was just too technical for anyone other than an engineer to understand! Clearly, she had either never actually looked at an Owner’s Manual or–sadly–had a reading level below that of an 8th grader.

So–to clarify my typical rant, it is not necessary to read a manual from cover to cover, but it does behoove a car owner to page through the manual shortly after buying a car in order to be sure that he/she knows what is necessary to operate the car safely and economically. And, it doesn’t hurt to periodically review certain bits of info on which someone is hazy.