Driving On a Spare Tire

Picture this: you’re driving down I-5 at 10 pm through a downpour when you feel a pop and a bump. Your car slowly loses traction and you pull over to see that you’ve blown a tire. Luckily, you have your trusty spare tire in the back. With some lifting, (un)screwing, and stowing, you’re good to go.

car breakdown man puts the spare tire KL58H47

But as you get back in your car and start back down the freeway, the question arises: “How long until I need to change this out?”

In this blog we’ll address how soon you should change out your spare tire after putting it on, and why its important to not wait.

The Purpose of a Spare

Spare tires are different than the standard tires that you already have on your car. Since cargo space varies by make and model it is common for spare tires have a thinner tread than a standard performance or all-wheel tire.

This may seem counter intuitive, but when you look at the primary purpose of your spare, it makes sense. Your spare was intentionally made to be temporary. It’s primary function is to act as a quick fix to get you from point A to point B. Usually this looks like putting on the spare and driving to the nearest shop to have a professional diagnose whether or not the original, damaged tire can be repaired.

How Far Can I Drive?

Many cars these days don’t have the space for a full-sized tire. Full sized tires are essentially an equivalent to the ones already on your car and can thus be driven on for longer.

What most vehicles have instead are spaces big enough for “donuts” (aka, “space-savers”). Donuts are smaller than full-sized or standard tires.

While the reported “actual” distance you can drive varies by source, most tire manufacturers agree that spare tires should not be driven on for more than 50 miles at 50 mph.

What to Check for

mechanic checking tire pressure with tyre pressure YXAQ742 1

Your spare can have issues even if it has never been used. Things like excess heat can accelerate a tire’s aging process. There are signs you should check for to make sure you’ll be safe driving on it.

  • Check your spare’s pressure to make sure its full of air. Under-inflation commonly increases risk for an accident.
  • Take a look at the condition of your spare. Do you see any cracks? Is the rubber worn?
  • Consider the terrain you’ll be driving in. Since most spare tires aren’t meant to withstand adverse weather or road conditions it may be a good idea to consider your current course and make any necessary changes to avoid unnecessary strain or damage.

What Can Happen If You Drive Too Long On A Spare?

There are several possible issues that arise if you go too long driving on your spare tire.

The biggest issue is an increased risk for an accident. Since most spares aren’t meant to last, it’s only a matter of time before that tire gives way. If you’re going down the freeway or driving in adverse weather conditions there could be devastating consequences.

Other issues include uneven and premature wear on your other tires.

If you get a spare and need a fix or repair come to Courtesy Auto Service and Tire Repair in Tacoma!

For more information on the tire services we offer visit our page here!

Don’t know how to change a tire? Read this article and watch this helpful video here.