You’re on your way to work, to meet friends for dinner, or any other task when the worst happens: your tire goes flat. While a flat tire may not be the end of the world, it’s certainly a frustrating experience. Some drivers are comfortable with changing their tire on the side of the road, while others don’t have the equipment or know-how and require assistance. In either case, your flat tire will be replaced with your spare tire. Now you’re able to go about your way, but your troubles don’t end there.
Spare tires typically aren’t long-term solutions for your blown tire, but buying a new tire right away may not be an option for you. That raises the question, how long do spare tires last? The answer to “how long to spare tires last” depends on a number of factors. Here’s what you need to know:
Full-Size Spare Tires
Older cars and a few newer models come equipped with a full-size spare tire. These tires are pretty much the same kinds of tires that are already on your vehicle. That means they can handle regular driving and should last a little longer. At the same time, they can also add new challenges to your daily commute. Since they weigh more and take up more space, full-size spares aren’t as common as they once were. If your full-size spare tire is in good shape, it’s best to have the actual tire be placed on the flat tire’s rim. Most full-size spares come on smaller rims that aren’t meant for heavy use, so putting it on an original tire is the better choice. If, however, the spare tire hasn’t been used as much as the other tires on your vehicle, it will handle differently and can make your time on the road less safe. This might mean needing to replace the flat tire as well as other tires at the same time. Talk to your auto technician to determine what would be the safest bet for you.
Donut Spare Tires
One of the more popular spare tire options is the donut tire. These have a narrow design, weightless, and take up less space than full-size tires. These tires tend to have little to no tread on them, which makes them vulnerable to hazards on the road. It’s also smaller than your other tires, meaning it has to do more work to keep up with the rest. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the exact recommendations for using your donut. On average, these spare tires are not meant to be used for more than 70 miles and no faster than 50 miles per hour. As the donut is used, lubricating grease on your gears and clutch plates will wear down, which could cause significant damage. Ultimately, the donut should only be used to get your car to a safe place and not as a replacement tire.
Modern Tires Run Flat
Haynes 3/14/21Newer models of vehicles are being fitted with run-flat tires. These tires are much tougher than normal tires and are often easier to maintain than regular tires. If your vehicle has run-flat tires, it’s unlikely you’ll be given a spare with your purchase. Run-flat tires are designed to handle road hazards like punctures. Instead of blowing out or going flat, a run-flat tire can drive another 50 miles or so before it needs to be replaced. That means you don’t need a spare tire to get your car to a safe place. That also means you have to replace the entire tire, which costs more than traditional tires.
Even if you’ve been driving your car for years, make sure you familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual, so you know what type of spare tire you have and how long it will last. No spare tire is meant to last forever, so accidents and issues on the road most often mean replacing the damaged tire. It’s also worth knowing how to tell when your tires are reaching the end of their lifespan, so you don’t increase your chances of getting a flat tire. When in doubt, talk with your local service shop to learn more.