How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire? Everything You Need to Know

Being stranded in an unknown place because of a flat tire is the last thing you want to experience. Having a spare tire in your car is always a good idea. If you want to have a peace of mind when driving it is best that you invest in one.

A smart car owner expects the unexpected. Some drivers are going to do things you never thought they would do. The road conditions may not be friendly to your car and your tire might go flat. If you are prepared, a flat tire would not be a big issue for you and you don’t have to call a tow truck service to rescue you.

If you want to be a smart driver, take time to read this post so you will learn everything about spare tires like the different types of spare tires and how long can you drive on a spare tire


Various Types of Spare Tires

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The majority of the new vehicles today have a spare tire in the trunk that is not actually a spare – it is a temporary tire which is also known as a donut. This type of spare tire can help you get home or go to the mechanic shop to get a replacement with a real tire. But you can consider also using an actual spare instead of the donut as long as it will fit in your car’s trunk.

The following are the different types of spare tires:

1. A Full-Size Spare Tire

A donut is a basic tire, with less tread or sipes in the tread. It is most of the time undersized in both width and height and is mounted on a regular steel rim.

Most of the sport utility vehicles and trucks have this kind of spare tire, particularly the one that is equipped with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. This type of spare tire has the same specifications of the regular tire of the vehicles and can be used under normal circumstances indefinitely unless otherwise specified on the tire.

If you choose to have a full-size spare, it means that if you buy a car, you will be buying five tires for your car and not four. In case something wrong happens, you will have a normal tire ready. The major benefit of a having this type of spare is that it is not a temporary fix. The full-size spare can function as a regular car and there is no limitation as to how long you can use it.

This type of spare tire requires bigger space to store it. And basically, you need to rotate the full-size spare into your scheduled tire rotation so it will wear in the same way as your other tires. The strain is reduced and assures you balanced handling when in use.
When checking the tire pressure and condition of your four tires, you need to check your full-size spare as well. 

2. A Compact/Donut Spare or Space-saver Spare

A donut or compact spare is a specially designed, lightweight tire that can save your day when one of your tires gives up. The primary benefit of using a compact spare is in the name, it is compact. This type of spare does not require bigger space in your trunk and it will not weigh your car down.

The space-saver spare is a temporary fix. It is not just designed to be driven on a specific number of miles at very low speed and does not have enough tread depth to function well if the weather is not favorable.

Just like the full-size spares, this type of spares needs to be checked for proper inflation regularly. Replacing one flat tire with a less functional spare tire is not helpful. 

3. Flat Tire Repair Kits

This is a tempting alternative to a compact or full-size spare as it cost less and occupies less area. Tire sealants, patches and plugs, the kits use different methods to fix the problem area without the need to replace the tire.

Just like the compact spares, this type of alternative is short-lived fixes. It may vary in what is included in the kits, but most pump a sealant into the flat tire into the tire’s air inflation valve, pressing punctures from the interior. The sealant kits can help fix the small holes and re-inflate a flat tire.

A hole larger than 6mm or a cut in diameter should not be repaired using the sealant. This damage requires replacement as quickly as possible. Although you need to replace the flat tire with a full-size tire, the repair kit can provide an immediate solution so you can go to the nearest tire shop.

Last update on 2017-10-17 at 20:47 PST - Details

4. Run-Flat Tires

The run-flat tires are an impressive alternative to conventional spare tires. As compared to other flat tire solutions, this will make sure that you will not be stuck on the road changing the tire, waiting for a tow truck or repairing a leak.

Good thing there is the run-flat technology of advanced cooling fins and protected sidewalls, you can drive your car up to 50 miles with the minimum speed of 50mph after you puncture it even after it has lost its air completely. The run-flat tires smoothly, that offers grip in sharp turns, and you can drive comfortably and quietly – thanks to the advanced technology. 

Last update on 2017-10-17 at 20:47 PST - Details


How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

This will depend on what type of spare tire you have. The general rule for donut spare tire is that you can only use it for 70 miles in the distance at a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour. It’s because the donut spare has a little tread on the tire, and is more prone to road damage as compared to regular tire. 

You can drive a full-size spare tire as long as you want just make sure that the tire is the same size and type as the one on your car. But you still need to replace it with the right tire as soon as possible so that all your car tires are the same. 

Are the Suspension or Braking System Affected if you Use Donut Spares?

If you are driving with a spare tire you will notice that you are having poor cornering, braking, and handling. The donut spare has a smaller footprint as compared to the traditional tire, which resulted to reduced braking, handling, and road holding. You will notice that when braking, your car dips to the side where the spare tire was mounted. Likewise, you may notice that the vehicle is pulling to that side.

You might be wondering why manufacturers put this kind of spare tire instead of the full-size tire. Donut spares are less expensive and space saver. This means more profit for the car manufacturers and it is quite a bargain and a clear loss for the buyer.

It is also important that your spare tire has the correct air pressure. In many instances, the spare tire should be inflated to 60 psi. It is best that you check the pressure of your spare tire once in a while, so if you need to use it your spare tire still has enough pressure. 

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Final Words


If you are driving on a bumpy road make sure that your spare tire is in good working condition. You will never know when you will get a flat tire. Driving with a piece of mind will make your travel experience smooth and worry-free.

It does not matter whether you have a full-size spare tire, flat tire repair kit, run-flat tire, compact spare or flat tire repair kit what is important is that you have something that will replace your flat tire. If you find this post helpful to you, feel free to share this post with others. 

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