How Long Can You DRIVE on a SPARE TIRE? Get Your Facts Straight!

Spare tires are a lifesaver when one of your regular tires pop in the middle of a highway or you may just find the car with a deflated tire. But, how long can you drive on a spare tire? The most common advice would be to check the owner’s manual that usually suggests not more than 70 miles at a maximum 50m/h (for a donut tire) as the rule of thumb. But, most people don’t even bother to turn the pages. Check this guide if you are one of them.

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

There is no definite answer to this question because it depends on several factors. It happens mainly because the modern vehicles come with a donut tire, which is smaller than a full-size tire. The logic behind it is that people need it on rare occasions and don’t even use it for a long time. Also, a smaller tire saves space in the trunk.

spare tire
Spare tire’s lifespan depends on many factors. Credit: Viachaclav

So, how long can you drive on a spare tire? Considering various scenarios, they can last for different periods:

1. A Full-Size Spare

If the spare is a full-size tire, given that it is the same size and type as the ones in your vehicle, you can drive it like a regular tire and use it until it wears out. You may think that the spare tire will be like a new one if you don’t use it. This is not true. If it is in your trunk for more than 5 years, you should check it thoroughly for cracks, holes, and pressure before attaching it to the wheels.

Many pickups and SUVs carry the spare tires under or back of them. Keeping them out in the open increases the chance of damage by road debris and UV ray. In that case, inspecting them once in a month should be a regular procedure.

>> Advice: You should install the best tire pressure monitoring system to avoid spare tire situation!

2. Donut Spare

If the spare tire is smaller in size (a donut tire), you should drive it only the distance required to cross to take the car to a service shop as you should do it as soon as possible. Some of these tires also have a maximum mileage and speed rating. Check the tire’s sidewalls for these max limits and replace it with a full-size one before crossing them.

A donut is an elementary tire that the manufacturers produce for saving space and cost. It is undersized, is built around a basic steel rim, and has very little tread. They are vulnerable and highly susceptible to all types of damage.

how long can you drive on a spare tire
Donut tires are for emergencies, not for regular driving. Source: YourMechanic

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3. A Run-Flat Spare

This type is rising in popularity as the manufacturers see it as a solution between the costly full-size tires and the rudimentary donut tires. You will find them with the recent models of MINI and BMW. These are tough, built to endure most road hazards, and can go on nearly 50 miles even after a puncture. However, they are costlier than a traditional full-size tire.

Bonus: How to take care of your spare tire? Check out the video to see more details

So, how long can you drive on a spare tire? As you can see, there is no one-line answer. You have to take the decision based on its type, age, and its storage conditions.

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