Spare tires may only be required on occasion, but having one available can come in handy should any problems arise on the road. How far you can travel with one depends on both its type and vehicle.
Most experts advise driving no more than 50 miles on a temporary spare tire (commonly known as a donut spare), since such tires were never meant for long distance travel.
Full-size spare tires are identical to the tires on your vehicle, enabling you to travel greater distances without fear of damage or performance loss. It should still be monitored for pressure changes and regularly inflated to stay fully inflated.
These tires can typically be found on trucks and SUVs, enabling them to cover longer distances than donut tires. While not intended as replacement tires themselves, this type of spare should serve to get you to a service center or home until you can replace your flat tire yourself.
At 50 miles or faster, your spare tire should never exceed 50 mph as its tread is not designed for long distance travel. If it becomes necessary, limp your car until reaching a safe location; this is much preferable than calling roadside assistance and paying for costly tow fees.
Space Saver Spare
Many newer cars include space saver spare tires instead of full-sized replacement tires for temporary use only, usually not exceeding 50 mph in speeds and with reduced grip compared to their full-sized counterparts. Prolonged use of such donut tires will negatively impact vehicle handling, steering, and braking functions and may compromise your vehicle.
Even though these tires have lower maximum speeds, it is still important to replace them promptly. Even if your spare is fully inflated, be sure to regularly inspect it for signs of wear or damage.
Some newer cars feature run-flat tires, which allow drivers to continue driving despite air loss for short distances after. It is wise, however, to replace run-flats as quickly and frequently as possible since their use should not become permanent as this will accelerate premature wear on other tyres and increase their likelihood of premature failure.
Spares can serve as temporary solutions to flat tires. Their lifespan is typically limited and should be replaced soon after being used.
A great way to determine how long a donut spare tire can last is by consulting the owner’s manual. In most cases, this will provide mileage and speed limits; otherwise, as a rule-of-thumb you shouldn’t travel more than 70 miles at 50 mph speed on it.
Donut spare tires differ from standard tires in that they’re not constructed with as much durability, and thus more susceptible to punctures from bumps or projectiles. Furthermore, their reduced traction means you should take turns and curves with caution and note their different UTQG ratings than regular tires.
Keep this in mind when driving on a spare tire: it wasn’t made for long distances. Your regular tires have been engineered to endure all manner of road conditions, while a spare is designed only to handle short trips.
If you find yourself with an “egg carton spare tire”, your best course of action should be driving until finding a shop which can provide one. Because most spares cannot withstand high speeds, it would be prudent to stay on the slow lane of highway traffic and use your hazard lights as necessary.
Checking your spare tire’s pressure regularly is also advised, since its pressure may change due to temperature shifts or time. Make sure it reaches the manufacturer-recommended pressure level listed on its sidewall; additionally, rotate and align it every 6,000-8,000 miles like other tires in your fleet.
Chris is a passionate learner and writer. When he’s not working on his blog or learning something new, he’s a full-time systems administrator and father of two beautiful girls. Chris loves spending time with his family, reading, writing, and playing hockey.