Driving On A Spare Tire: How Long Is It Allowed?

Driving On A Spare Tire: How Long Is It Allowed?

Each of us wants a safe and enjoyable drive, especially when we go on a long trip. But, as Murphy's law says, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And this means that we can wake up with a flat tire exactly when we want it the least.

No one is exempt from a flat tire in the middle of the road. This can happen at any time. It is important to know what we can do in such cases and how to replace the tire as soon as possible. Whether we like it or not, a spare tire is our lifeline in case of such an unpleasant incident. Even if replacing a flat tire is frustrating, inconvenient, and nerve-wracking (it just spoiled our fun, right?) it still allows us to reach our destination safely.

Now the question: how long is it okay to drive with the spare tire? Do we leave it permanently mounted or do we replace it? If we replace it, what exactly do we replace it with? A new one or a second-hand one?
So, we will answer a set of questions right in this article. In general, the specialists claim that it is okay to travel with a spare tire around 450-50 miles. However, this is not all you have to take into account. Let's see what else you need to know about this topic.

"Spare Tire" By Definition

As a general rule, each car is equipped not with 4 tires, but with 5. The 5th one is the spare tire drivers carry in the trunk for emergencies. The 5th tire, i.e. the spare one, is mounted in exceptional situations when one of the tires is severely impacted during the ride. It can be about a puncture or even a blowout. Regardless of the reason, the spare tire is the one that takes the place of the affected one, allowing the driver to continue on his way.

In some cases, car drivers who opt for run-flat tires, don't get a spare tire. The run-flat tires maintain their shape even in case of a puncture, allowing the driver to go on the road even with a punctured tire.
In contrast, drivers who opt for regular tires are encouraged to always carry a spare tire. Spare tires can be different, such as donuts or full-size spare. Regardless of the type, a spare tire presence in the car is a moral obligation for any conscientious driver.

Speed Limits With A Spare Tire

Let's first specify the difference between the diverse types of spare tires. Full-size spare tires are those that match the ones the vehicle is already equipped with. These are usually quite voluminous and take up a lot of space in the trunk. Also, they are more expensive.

However, their basic benefit is that they do not compromise the car's performance once you install them. This is because they are the same size as the flat tire you need to replace. However, this does not mean you can accelerate with this spare tire, as you do with the regular one. Even if the performance is often the same, you still have to reduce your driving speed.

Why? Because your full-size spare tire has a different tread than the other tires. Being subjected to daily use, car tires develop tread wear different from that of the stored spare tire. Respectively, it is most likely that the tires will be subject to tread mismatching. In this context, the car's traction can be affected, and high speed can be a factor of imminent risk.

How About Donut Spare Tires?

This type differs from full-size spare tires in its dimensions. The manufacturers produce them dimension-wise so that they fit in the trunk and do not take up much space. Due to the relatively smaller dimensions of donut spare tires compared to regular tires, it is likely to produce a balance mismatching with the regular ones of your car. To minimize the adverse effects of this mismatching, it is mandatory to drive at a reasonable speed.

So, regardless of the type of spare tires you have, the speed must be judicious and not exceed 50 mph. Compliance with this limit ensures the driver a safe ride, minimizing the risks associated with impaired traction. In conclusion, whenever you drive with a spare tire, you must be within the speed limit of up to 50 mph and the distance limit of up to 50 miles. This is a standard confirmed by most specialists in the field that ensures a safe ride.

Things To Consider While Driving With a Spare Tire

Even if your spare tire is in optimal condition, keep in mind that it does not have the same promising durability as your regular tires. For this reason, under no circumstances should you drive with it for an extended period of time. Try not to exceed the 50-mile limit for your safety. When looking for a new tire to replace the spare one, make sure that the new tire matches the size, diameter, and tread depth of the other 3.

The pressure of the spare tire is as important as that of the other tires. As soon as you mount the spare tire on the rim, make sure that the tire pressure in it is within the recommended limits. Even if it is not in use for a long time, the pressure in it can decrease and a spare tire without sufficient pressure is absolutely useless.

Never let yourself be tempted by a speed higher than 50mph. Spare tires do not have tread patterns as contoured and expressive as those of regular tires. As a result, neither the traction nor the grip is the same. Phenomena such as hydroplaning or slipping are very likely with spare tires and it is not worth the risk. More than that, be very cautious especially when the season plays tricks.

In the same context...

When you have a donut spare tire, replacing it with a normal one is necessary as soon as possible. However, if it is a full-size tire, the manufacturer may allow you to use it for more than the recommended 50 miles. It is important to familiarize yourself with the recommendations of your spare tire manufacturer, in order to know all replacement aspects and requirements.

The ABS system may "reject" the spare tire, creating errors on the dashboard and speedometer inaccuracies. In this sense, it is very important to keep as far as possible from other vehicles in order to have sufficient reaction and braking time in unforeseen circumstances.

Take into account the validity periods of the spare tire. Each manufacturer proposes a different period. It is crucial to replace the spare tire after the validity period expires, even if you never got to use it. Similarly, you may need a spare tire much sooner than the validity period, if you have not maintained it properly. In this context, it's essential to inspect the condition of your spare tire once in a while.

Bottom Line

Do not consider the spare tire as an opportunity to continue your journey as if nothing happened. You MUST consider it as a rescue tool that allows you to reach the nearest technical service center.
Be aware of the speed limit to ensure a safe drive to your destination. The distance of no more than 50 miles that you can cover with a spare is no less important unless you don't want any transmission problems.

You can drive at a speed higher than 50 mph only in the context where you are on a highway and only if your spare tire is a full-size one. But even in such conditions, keep your distance from other traffic participants. If you find yourself with a donut spare tire, avoid highways at all costs, because the speed limit on these roads is well over 50 mph.

Leave your comment

Need live support?

  • Mon - Fri: 8am - 7pm ET
  • Sat: 9am - 5pm ET
  • Sun: Closed