OK, I bought the 2003 Forester; one tire has several sidewall cuts, one of the white rubber -- not down to the sidewall cords and not bulging but risky once anything else happened to poke at that spot. I drove it 250 miles of Highway 5 in 100 degree weather uneventfully.
Off to the local tire store after the 4th. If they can find me one matching used (Yokohama, likely the tires that came on the Subaru 20k miles ago? -- the spare has never been used at all) I'll delay and hope for suggestions.
The '03 Forester glovebox manual says use a 4=tire "rotation" -- tires always kept on same side, just back to front each time.
That means any spare's always going to be the wrong size.
We always carry two full size spares and break one (both tread and steel belts) a few times a decade, before we wear the tires out -- sharp rocks on our nasty road.
Never had AWD before -- with AWD I'd like a six-tire rotation, starting with six new tires -- that's theory, but this may be the time, on this car, to start that way.
Consumer Reports has recent tire recommendations for car tires.
I'd prefer 'Light Truck' for better sidewalls if I can get them in 16" -- most likely not? Next idea is go to 17" wheels --
QUESTION: Did Subaru ever made 17" wheels in steel == the Forester XS comes with 17" aluminum, but I gather aluminum wheels crack in rough use.
EDIT: found this link in the "rear disk brake swap" thread:http://wac.addr.com/...obs/wheels.html
big list of wheels and sources
I guess they'd fit any Forester. Wonder if Subaru has a shim or adjustment for the speedometer, like the old 1960s Dodge trucks, for changing tire sizes?