There is nothing worse when you are on a road trip than having a low tire because you didn’t check your tire pressure before leaving or worse yet, a flat tire.
However, if you are prepared and your vehicle has a spare tire that is properly inflated, you can have it installed and back on the road in under an hour. The question though, how long can you drive on a spare tire?
How Long Can You Drive On A Spare Tire
The distance that you can drive on a spare tire completely depends on the type of spare tire that your vehicle came equipped with.
There are two main types of spare tires, full size, and space-saver or donut spare tires.
How Far Can You Drive On A Full Size Spare Tire
Some larger vehicles will come equipped with what is known as a full size spare. This is a spare tire that is the same size as the tires that are equipped on your vehicle. Some manufacturers even go one step further with their full size spares. They don’t install the spare on an ugly black steel wheel, they install it on an alloy wheel the same as your vehicle is equipped with .
With a full size spare you can imagine there are no limitations to how far you can drive or a maximum speed. Because it is the same tire that is already equipped on the vehicle, you can drive as far as you like while maintaining correct speed limits.
How Far Can You Drive On A Donut or Temporary Spare Tire
The best way to remember how far you can drive on a spare tire is to remember the 50 rule.
50 miles per hour for no more than 50 miles
With manufacturers producing smaller vehicles and requiring them to have better fuel economy, many new vehicles are being equipped with a temporary spare tire, or what is more commonly known as a donut.
The temporary spare is designed to get you mobile so you can drive back to safety (if you are on a desolate road) and to a repair shop to get your vehicle’s tire fixed. Because of this short time use, these spare tires have limitations to how fast and far you can drive with a donut spare tire.
These tires are much smaller in size, lighter in design, and are only to be used as long as the name applies, temporarily. If you drive longer or faster than recommended when using a spare tire, you could experience a tire blow out.
How Long Can You Drive On A Run Flat Tire
Some vehicles do not come with spare tires, they come with a specially designed tire known as a run flat tire instead. Some vehicles do not have room for a spare tire or manufacturers decide they prefer to equip the vehicle with a run flat tire instead.
A run flat tire is a specially designed tire that can handle the weight of the vehicle when the tire loses all air pressure. They have specially designed sidewalls that are able to support this weight while driving, and cornering.
The same 50 rule applies to when you have a run flat tire that is flat. Drive no faster than 50 mph for no more than 50 miles.
Most vehicles that have this type of tire also come with a low tire light. This allows you to know if a tire on the vehicle is flat. Tire manufacturers recommend replacing the tire if it has been driven on when the tire is flat. I always recommend you check with a local tire professional to get the correct advice.
Always Check The Owner’s Manual
Like many others out there, I am just as bad at not reading the manuals for things that I own. The problem with that is I miss out on a lot of valuable information.
The owner’s manual is always the best place to look when you are trying to find information about your vehicle. Take a look inside of your glovebox. You will find a section that regards the spare tire of your vehicle. It will walk you through step by step on how to locate your spare tire and tools, remove it from the vehicle and install it.
Make Sure Your Spare Tire Is Safe
Spare tires can be forgotten about due to their location and lack of use. When the time comes that it is needed, it may not be safe to use anymore. So how can you make sure the spare tire is ready when you need it?
Check The Pressure
Check your spare tire pressure on a regular basis. It may not be easily accessible but you still need to check your spare tire pressure at least two times per year. Do not forget to do this. It is really bad when you need to use your spare tire and it is flat as well.
Check Your Spare Tires Age
Just like the rest of the tires on your car, spare tires will eventually need to be replaced. Check the date of your spare tire. Spare tires are recommended to have a maximum lifespan of 8 years. If your tire is older than this, replace it with a new spare tire.
Know Where Your Spare Tire Is And Make Sure You Can Remove It
Spare tires and tools can be hard to find if you have never located them before in your vehicle. Check the owner’s manual and find the location of the tire and the tools required.
If your spare tire is held in with a ratchet or cable mechanism, make sure they work. Manually remove the spare tire, check the pressure and reinstall. Spare tire removal mechanisms can become corroded and seized because they are not used that often.
If you need information on how to replace the components that hold your spare tire, a good service repair manual will have the information you need.
Should I Drive Differently With A Spare Tire?
If the spare tire of your vehicle is not a full size spare. Then yes, you will need to drive differently when the spare tire is on your vehicle.
A donut spare is much smaller than a full size tire. This can lead to issues with the ABS and traction control systems not functioning correctly. So if there is inclement weather be careful. Stop earlier than you would normally, accelerate slowly, and make sure you reduce your cornering speeds.
Spare tires do not drive the same as a full size tire on your vehicle. Please be aware of this when you are driving and drive accordingly.
What Happens If I Drive Too Long With A Donut Spare Tire?
If you drive longer or more importantly faster than the 50 rule with a spare you can damage your vehicle.
After all, engineers have designed your vehicle to operate with a full size tire, not one half the size.
You may start to notice damage to your suspension system, brakes, driveline and even your transmission. Also be aware that a spare tire is only designed to drive for a maximum of 50 miles. Driving further than this will cause extreme tire wear on your spare tire. This can lead to a blow out if driven far enough.
As you can see there are many variables to how long can you drive on a spare tire. The style of spare tire, to even the type of tire the vehicle is equipped with determines what you need to do.
If in doubt, please remember the 50 rule.
A maximum speed of 50mph for no more than 50 miles.