Spare tires are standard equipment fitted to nearly all cars that have been sold since the very first car.
If you’re like most drivers, you probably don’t think about your spare tire very often. But it’s an important part of your car, and it’s worth knowing more about it.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about spare tires. We’ll cover topics such as: types of spare tires, how to change a flat, what to do if your spare tire is damaged or missing, and more!
What is a Spare Tire?
A spare tire is an extra tire that is carried in the trunk or storage area of a vehicle. The spare tire is usually the same size and type as the tires on the car, and it is mounted on a wheel. The spare tire is used when one of the regular tires has an issue such as a flat or blowout.
Why you Should Carry a Spare Tire?
Carrying a spare tire is important for a number of reasons.
First, it provides a backup in case one of your regular tires has an issue.
Second, it can save you time and money if you have to change a flat tire.
Third, it can keep you safe in the event of a breakdown or accident.
And fourth, it can give you peace of mind knowing that you have a spare tire if you need it.
When are Spare Tires Useful?
Spare tires are most useful when you have a flat tire or blowout. If you have a flat, you can simply put on the spare tire and drive to a nearby service station to have the tire repaired or replaced. If you have a blowout, you will need to replace the damaged tire with the spare.
Having a spare tire in your vehicle allows you to replace the damaged tire and continue on with your journey until you are able to find a tire shop to repair the damaged wheel. This can save you time and money waiting on a repair truck.
It can also be the difference between being stuck in the middle of nowhere and being able to make it home.
How are Spare Tires Different from Regular Tires?
Spare tires are typically the same size in terms of height as the regular tires on your car. They are often thinner that your full size tires to make them fit easier in your car’s trunk and they may be a different brand or model.
They are also usually a lower quality than the regular tires. This is because they are not meant to be used for long periods of time or high speeds.
Are there different sizes of spare tire?
There are three main types of spare tires: full-size, temporary (also called “donut”), and compact spare tires.
Full-size spare tires are the biggest and heaviest type of spare tire. They’re also the most expensive type, which is why they’re not as common as they used to be.
Temporary (or “donut”) spare tires are smaller and lighter than full-size tires. They’re not meant to be driven on for long distances and their smaller size means that they easily fit into the trunk of most passenger cars today. These are the most common type of spare tire.
Compact spare tires are the smallest and lightest type of spare tire. They’re also the cheapest type, which is why they’re becoming more common. They are similar to temporary spare tires or donuts but they are smaller and have a lower maximum speed rating.
How Far Can you Drive on a Spare Tire?
The answer to this question depends on the type of spare tire you have.
If you have a full-size spare tire, you can drive as far as you want. Just keep in mind that as the tire is not as good, it’s best to take it easy until you are able to have your original tire repaired or replaced.
If you have a temporary spare tire, you should only drive for a short distance up to maximum of around 100 miles. These tires are not meant to be driven on for long periods of time or at high speeds.
If you have a compact spare tire, you should only drive for a very short distance of maximum 50 miles. These tires are the smallest and lightest type of spare tire and because they are smaller than your original wheel, it will worsen the performance of your vehicle.
They also have a lower maximum speed rating which means you cannot drive them over 50 mph.
Is there a limit to how fast a spare tire can go?
Yes, there is a limit to how fast you can drive on a spare tire. The speed limit is usually around 50-60 mph depending on the type of spare tire you have.
It’s important to follow the speed limit because driving too fast can cause the spare tire to overheat and become damaged. It can also cause the vehicle to handle poorly and the tire to potentially fail.
What is the best way to store a spare tire?
Most manufacturers design vehicles with a specific place in the trunk under the boot floor for the spare tire. This is because it’s out of the way and not taking up any space inside the car. It also keeps the tire from getting damaged by being exposed to the elements.
Some larger vehicles such as Range Rovers and off road vehicle have their spare tires attached to the underside of the vehicle or against the back door. This allows for easy access to the spare wheel and also keeps it from taking up any space inside the vehicle.
Tips for driving on a Spare Tire
If you find yourself having to drive on a spare tire, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
Check Spare Tires Maximum Speed
Make sure to check on the spare tire what the maximum speed of the spare tire is and then ensure you do not exceed this speed. This can cause irreversible damage the spare tire and cause it to fail.
Check Spare Tire Pressure
Check the pressure of the spare tire regularly and before mounting it to your vehicle. This will help ensure it performs as best as possible for the duration of the time on your vehicle. Under or over inflating the spare tire will cause it to wear even faster and will jeopardize your safety.
Inspect Spare Tire for Damage
Inspect the spare tire for any damage before you put it on your vehicle. If there is any damage, do not use it and take it to a professional to have it repaired or replaced.
Take Corners slower
Take corners and turns slowly. Because of the spare tires smaller size, it means that they are not able to offer as much cornering grip as a full size tire. This means if you try and corner the vehicle when travelling too fast, the vehicle is likely to understeer and continue to travel straight on instead of turning.
Brake earlier and avoid heavy braking
Be careful when braking. Avoid braking too sharply unnecessarily and leave a large gap to the car in front so that you can apply the brakes gently. This is because spare tires are much narrower than full size tires and have a smaller contact patch with the ground.
This smaller contact patch gives spare tires less grip and traction than full size tires and mean that they cannot stop a car as quickly as full size tires.
Repair or Replace original Tire
Have your regular tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid driving for longer than you need to on your spare tire. Since spare tires are only designed for short distanced, it will become worn out much quicker than a normal tire. This means it will not be able to provide the grip or traction once it has worn too far.
Can you purchase a spare tire?
Yes, you can purchase a spare tire from most tire retailers. They will usually have a range of different sizes and types to suit your vehicle.
It’s important to make sure that you get the right size and type of spare tire for your vehicle. If you’re unsure, you can always ask a professional at the retailer or consult your vehicle’s manual.
It is also wise to ensure that whichever spare wheel you pick is able to fit in your vehicle. This might seem like an obvious point, but some people pick a larger wheel because they think it will offer more grip or be more durable.
However, if the spare tire is too large to fit in your vehicle or in its designated spare tire space, then you would be better off returning it and purchasing a more suitable replacement.
Cost of a Spare Tire
The cost of a spare tire will depend on the size, type and brand. Generally speaking, though, you can expect to pay between $50 and $200 for a spare tire.
Tips for Buying a Spare Tire
If you live in an area with a lot of rough roads or potholes, it might be worth investing in a thicker and more durable spare tire.
A larger diameter wheel will offer better grip and stability and if you can, purchasing a full-size spare tire is always the best option if your vehicle can accommodate one.
If you are picking a spare tire for a larger vehicle or truck, ensure that the spare tire you are looking at is capable of handling the extra weight and that it is up to the job. A light duty spare tire is not going to be able to handle the same load as a heavy duty one.
Try to pick a brand of tire that is the same as the tires that are already on your vehicle. This will most likely offer the best compatibility and performance.
It is also a good idea to get a spare tire that has the same tread pattern as your regular tires. This will help to ensure that the grip and traction is as close to the same as possible.
Finally, make sure that you pick a spare tire that is within your budget. There is no point in spending more money than you need to on a spare tire, especially if you are only going to use it in an emergency.
Maintaining your Spare Tires
Spare tires can sit for years in your car before they ever need to be used. As part of every yearly service, it is customary for a mechanic to check the spare tire and make sure that it is still in good condition and has the correct air pressure.
It is also a good idea to check your spare tire regularly yourself, at least once every few months. This way you can be confident that it will be in good working order should you ever need to use it.
Spare tires are still susceptible to the same problems as regular tires, such as slow leaks and punctures. If you notice that your spare tire is losing air or has a puncture, take it to a professional to have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
It is also a good idea to keep an eye on the expiration date of your spare tire. Most tires will have a date stamped on them somewhere that indicates when they need to be replaced.
This is usually around six years from the date of manufacture, but it can vary depending on the brand and type of tire. Once a tire reaches its expiration date, it needs to be replaced, even if it has never been used.
Spare tires are an essential part of any vehicle and it is important to make sure that you have a good quality one that is properly maintained. By following the tips in this guide, you can be confident that you will have a spare tire that you can rely on if you ever need it.
Can you fix a broken spare tire?
Because spare tires are only designed as temporary solutions, it is not recommended that you try to fix a broken spare tire.
If you have a puncture or a slow leak, the best course of action is to try to have your original full size wheel fix and put back on your vehicle as soon as possible. This will then allow you the time to purchase a new spare tire.
Trying to patch up a spare tire yourself is only going to be a temporary fix and due to a spare tires extremely short lifespan, we would not recommend investing in repairing a spare tire.
If your spare tire is damaged beyond repair, or if it is missing entirely, then you are best off purchase a new one. This can be done from most auto parts stores or tire dealerships.
How Long Does a Spare Tire Last?
Spare tires will last for around 6/7 years with no use as that is their designed lifespan. However, if you do use your spare tire then it will only last for a maximum of 50-100 miles before it needs to be replaced.
This is due to the fact that spare tires are not made with the same material as regular tires and they are also not as durable. Regular tires are made to last for around 40,000 miles but a spare tire is only made to last for 50-100 miles.
What If your Car Doesn’t come with a Spare Tire?
If your car doesn’t come with a spare tire, this is because usually the car will come with a tire repair kit instead. This is a much more common occurrence in Europe as cars have to be lighter and more fuel efficient. There are a number of different alternatives to a spare tire that you can use in an emergency.
Some cars do not come with a spare tire as the manufacturers believe that the run-flat tires are a better solution. Run-flat tires are tires designed with reinforced sidewalls that allow the tire to continue to be driven on even when it has lost all or most of its air pressure.
While this may seem like an ideal solution, run-flat tires are much more expensive than regular tires and they also wear out much quicker. In addition, if you do have a problem with your run-flat tires, it can be very difficult to find someone who is able to repair them.
However this does mean that if you get a puncture, you will still be able to drive to a safe location or to a garage where you can get the tire repaired or replaced.
While these may be an option for some people, we still believe that it is better to have a full-size spare tire as well as run flat tires as having more than 1 option will always be better than having just one.
Tire repair kit
Another option that you have if your car doesn’t come with a spare tire is to use a tire repair kit. These kits usually come with a tire plug which you can use to plug a puncture in a tire.
While this may be a viable option for some people, we still believe that it is better to have a full-size spare tire as well as a tire repair kit. This is because you never know when you may have a puncture that is too big to be repaired with just a plug.
In addition, tire repair kits can be difficult to use and it may be hard to find someone who is able to help you if you have a problem.
However, having a tire repair kit is still better than nothing and it may be the only option for some people.
An easy option for people whose cars do not come with a spare tire is to have Fix-a-Flat to hand. This product comprises of a can of sealant and a compressor that you can use to pump air into the tire.
The sealant will fill the tire with a liquid that will harden and temporarily seal the hole from the inside of the tire until you are able to get it repaired or replaced.
Tire repair kits are a good option if you have a puncture as they will allow you to temporarily fix the tire and get you to a safe location. However, it is important to note that these kits are only designed as a last resort.
Once having used this, the tire will need to be replaced as the inside will not be able to be cleaned. This will also leave a mess on the rim which will your tire shop will not be best please to have to clean up before mounting a new tire. This is why Fix-a-flat is seen as a last resort option.
Tire inflators are a very useful piece of kit to have in the car with you at all time. It is a good option to have as they will allow you to inflate your tires if they are low on air. However, they will not be able to repair a puncture.
Refilling your tire with air even while with a puncture, may allow you enough time to drive to a safe location or to a garage.
While tire inflators are not able to repair punctures, they are still a useful tool to have. It is always best to check your tire pressure regularly and top up the air in your tires when needed. This will help to extend the life of your tire.
How to fit a spare tire
If you have a flat tire, you will need to change it with the spare tire. To do this, you will need to jack up the car and remove the lug nuts that hold the wheel in place.
Once the lug nuts are removed, you can pull off the damaged tire and replace it with the spare tire. Be sure to hand-tighten the lug nuts before lowering the car back down. Once the car is back on the ground, you can use a lug wrench to fully tighten the lug nuts.
It is important to know how to change a tire as it may be something that you have to do at some point in your life. While it may seem like a daunting task, once you know how to do it, it is actually quite simple.
The most important thing to remember is to always be safe. Make sure that you are parked in a safe location away from traffic before you start changing the tire. Once you have changed the tire, be sure to drive slowly and carefully until you are able to get the tire repaired or replaced.
For any more information on how to change a tire and the tools required, check out our full guide here.
While it is always best to have a spare tire, there are other options that you can use if your car doesn’t come with one. We hope that this guide has been helpful in understanding the different options that are available to you.
We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!