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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
(You can skip the narration and go straight to the bottom for the highlights)

So I drove over some gnarly bolt and it tore up my tire pretty bad (I've got Continental CrossContact LX Sport 265/45R21). I'm not used to "instant flats"; typically I get to drive a few miles to a Discount Tire or something like that. I decided to put the spare on myself and happily found it in the cargo area. It's a tiny rim with what looks like a low-profile tire (Vredestein; I still have their winter tires for my S5 so the spare has my stamp of approval). You're supposed to inflate it before installing it and man is it a trip to watch (goes from low-profile to truck tire with a pop!). I went to look for the jack and couldn't find it. I said "f it" and called Audi Roadside Assistance. The car had 750 miles on it at the time. I'm not getting my hands dirty this early on in the ownership. Or so I thought!

Audi Roadside Assistance called a technician. The guy shows up in a Hyundai Santa Fe. He's dressed like he's been home-bound all weekend playing video games and he pulls a bunch of tools from his trunk. He looks like he hasn't showered in a week, his pants are baggy, and his underwear is showing and is full of holes. "No judgement" but you should probably care about how you present yourself at work ... or anywhere. It's OK, this is the country and good ole' boys roll like this all the time, so ... sure. He is wise enough to note that the spare can't be mounted without first being inflated. I'm dumb enough that I would have mounted that sucker as-is and then looked for air. Good thing those tools were "missing".

I happened to be right by a Costco and I'm a member so I walked over and asked if they could air the tire up. They were very kind and helpful and that was probably the highlight of the day. I rolled the tire back to the technician and he installed it. He stood the flat tire up and it fell over, face first ... onto parking lot asphalt. Goodbye pristine wheels. Rash everywhere. I thanked him for his service and bid him farewell.

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I then thought "heck, I'm here, might as well see if Costco can patch this". They took it in and I went home. After about an hour or so, they called me and said "sorry, we can't reliably fix this". Apparently there's some insulation inside that was compromised and they couldn't recreate. They claimed they could patch it but they didn't want the liability. I thanked them for trying and took the tire to Audi.

Audi was really pushing for a new tire. $450 out the door. This is a brand new tire (750 miles) so I hated the idea of just tossing it away. Audi also didn't want the liability. They said they could patch it but would offer me no receipt. The bolt was so large that the hole it left would be too big for a plug and they questioned how long it would last. Apparently you can't patch these tires from the inside due to all that insulation business I mentioned earlier. I asked them to at least pull the bolt out and see for certain how bad it was before throwing it away. They spent a good 15 minutes and when it came out you could tell that tire was a goner (I've never seen a hole so big on a tire and I've run over rivets).

While Costco was looking at the tire, I looked at the owner's manual and found that the jack and tire inflator (score!) are stored in the frunk, under a flap in the compartment that also stored the charger it came with. This car keeps surprising me with "value".

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So I'm driving around town on a spare and the car is going bananas. Tire inflation error, TPMS error, Air Suspension error, Left tail light bulb fault (why not?), Is the key still in the vehicle error (GTFO). OK, I've seen that last one before but all the others are brand new. It's a good thing I otherwise really love the car because I was this close to getting really pissed off about the ownership so far (which includes the center taillight replacement and subsequent damaging of the plastic end caps, as detailed in another post).

So, to recap the important stuff:
  • The spare is in the cargo area and needs to be inflated first (to 51psi); hold on to the valve stem cover because it's also a deflator (if installed in reverse)
  • Oh, don't forget to set the Air Suspension mode (in Vehicle -> Settings?) to "Tire change"
  • The jack, tire inflator, and even wheel lug cap remover are in the frunk, under a flap in the bottom of the compartment that also stored the charger when you first got the car
  • The Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires are specially insulated and filled with foam to provide a quieter ride (typical of EV and luxury SUV tires, apparently); if damaged extensively, they're trash and need full replacement; for smaller holes: only plugs, no inside patches
  • Audi dealerships charge $70 more per tire ($450 vs $380) compared to Discount Tire for this specific tire and provide a two-year warranty (tied to the DOT number on the tire); first year is full credit for replacement, second year is pro-rated; the warranty is allegedly honored at all Audi dealerships which is "nice"
  • Your car will not be happy at all about riding on the spare ... error codes galore
  • Consider carrying a blanket in your trunk to lay your flat tires on ... these wheels scratch very easily! Audi claims they can refinish the wheel for $125 which is actually rather cheap (compared to past experience)
Good luck folks, I hope this helps prepare you for when your tires ever experience a flat.

UPDATE: Check out this post with repair information from Continental.
 

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Thanks for the long and informative write up. I feel your pain, I had a puncture and when they removed the tyre to repair the small screw hole they butchered the acoustic foam inside. I informed them it was present and "Please be careful"
The fitter muttered that it was not his fault and could not remove the tyre without ripping the acoustic foam, I was not pleased and once I had spent an hour complaining they then said they would put it back with the screw hole fixed but without the foam!
I then advanced with "No chance" and just waiting for them to come back with options, in the end I had to pay £90 for a brand new tyre fitted. But obviously they did not carry the tyre in stock and had to wait until the following day and get a taxi there and back (£45) while my car sat jacked up over night.

Upon getting back in the car the dash, as yours did lit up like a Christmas tree with loads of errors, I just drove a mile or two with them all on, turned the car off and back on (Yep its a classic`) All was good. But a £24 fix became £135. Yes I got a brand new tyre but the original had only done about 2000 miles. Live and learn.
 

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Yep, 21" tires are stupid expensive, but here's a link to the ContiSilent version of this tire that Audi uses on the eTron (maybe other vehicles). That foam ring is glued to the inside of the tire, opposite the tread and does as you suspect: lowers noise a bit from the tires.
 

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21s! I fear the day I have replace a 22 inch tyre on the new car coming in December!
 

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DCCHRISTOPHER, Thanks for the details of your flat tire experience. When buying the car I was pleasantly surprised to find that the etron even had a spare tire (Tesla vehicles do not have spares). In reading the instructions, I had concluded--wow, that is a bit complicated. So, I decided if it ever happened I would just call Audi Roadside Assistance. It seems to me the guy they sent out to you was not very well trained---he did not know where to look for the inflation pump? So, maybe my Plan 1 is not so good after all! And, yes, my summer tires are the 21" ones! I may print out your tips and store them in that weird, super deep storage compartment located to the lower left of my steering wheel!
 

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I read somewhere, but can't find it again, that repair only requires cutting and peeling up the foam ring before the normal patching routine. Patch adhesive is then used to re-attach the foam ring.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
As is the case with everything else in life, costs (and corners) are being cut left and right. Audi Roadside Assistance is subcontracting the work out to pretty much anyone out there. I appreciate "gig economy" but there ought to be some standards.

Here's my new Plan 1: Order a reconditioned rim that matches my other four. Get a new OEM tire from TireRack and have it mounted to the "new" rim at a tire shop nearby (I've generally had good luck at Discount Tire). Leave it at the house. When there's a flat, install the compact spare myself. Then go home and swap the compact spare with the full-size "spare". Then take the flat one to Discount Tire and have them take a shot at it or have a new tire shipped there for them to swap out. The take-aways here are a) depend on no one to get back on the road, and b) you can still drive your car (and keep your sanity). Total cost: $300-450 for the rim, $380 for the tire (installed). Not too bad. Keep nitrile gloves and a wheel bag in the cargo area. You will get very dirty (21" wheel = that much more surface area to collect road grime).

Here's a video of the Vredestein compact spare:
... it blows up even bigger in our case since it needs to get close to 21"! (I don't think it's quite there as there is quite a bit of slippage as you drive (especially at or above 50mph, which is admittedly not recommended).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I read somewhere, but can't find it again, that repair only requires cutting and peeling up the foam ring before the normal patching routine. Patch adhesive is then used to re-attach the foam ring.
Hmm, good to know! I can't tell if tire installers are hesitant because it's more work, unknown, or less profitable (or all of the above). I guess it will take some time for these new-fangled tires to become ordinary. I'm kicking myself now for not keeping the tire from this recent incident. The hole was pretty big though.
 

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A good plan when dealing with a "compact spare"....and "foam lining" in the tire. However, it always seems I don't get a flat until the tread on the tires has worn down too much to allow a new tire to be added in.
 

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Ah yes, the joys of an AWD car, at least IC ones. I've had to replace all four tires three times over the past 20-odd years.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I forgot to mention, I reached out to Continental and they sent me this document to present to any tire shop that’s “hesitant” about repairing the tire. They specifically recommended Discount Tire and I’m kicking myself because there was one not far from where the flat happened.
 

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