How Long Can You Drive On a Spare Tire?

Spare tires are an essential part of having a car, and you should be able to have them if you want to use them in an emergency. However, it is necessary to understand that spare tires are unreliable to use in the long run and must not be seen as a permanent solution. Most importantly, the light tires also have a life beyond which their efficiency decreases. So for how long should you use a spare tire? This is a ubiquitous question, and there needs to be an answer.

spare tire

This article will discuss the types of spare tires and how long you can use them.

1. Space-saver or doughnut tire: How can you identify the type of tire you have? You should be able to recognize a space saver or a doughnut tire when the tire size is smaller than the usual one. The doughnut tire is usually found in every car’s back and is generally treated as a spare tire. The size is smaller so that people do not rely on the spare tire for extended use and get a proper one from a certified mechanic or a car shop. Generally, people know that space-saver tires are not to be treated as a permanent solution, and they must not be used for long runs. However, we need to tell you that space-saver tires should only be taken out until seventy miles have been covered. When seventy miles have crossed, the efficiency of the tire may vanish, and it might get difficult for the car to run. Furthermore, you can only speed up to fifty miles per hour and do not run fast as much. You should also be aware that it has a lesser gripping power on-road than the standard tires so that they can be worn out much quicker than the other one. Therefore, space-saver or doughnut tires have quite a few restrictions, and they must not be used as a permanent solution. The car should be taken to the automobile shop as early as possible to avoid inconvenience.

2. Full-size spare tire: Full-size light tires are quickly and conveniently found in more oversized vehicles, such as trucks or sports utility vehicles (SUVs) cars. The full-size spare tire is similar to a standard tire in size and ability. However, many users have complained about a change in driving when they have a full-size spare tire attached. This is because having a full-size spare tire decreases efficiency. This happens because the car has tires made by different manufacturers, reducing efficiency and performance. Another issue with the full-size spare tire is that since it is brand new, the gripping power would be far less than that of the standard tire, and it would take a while to get adjusted to. Therefore, a full-size spare tire is again not a permanent solution, and the car must be taken to the nearest automobile shop to get a new tire.

3. Run-flat tire: Often touted as the most muscular tire, the run-flat tire distinguishes from others because of its ability to sustain even after a puncture. They do not deflate quickly because of their solid sidewalls and, therefore, maintain for a long time. It is extremely tough and can work efficiently and run some miles at fifty kilometers per hour. However, as it is laden with many advantages, it is costly. However, you should still check the tire pressures and see whether it is low or not. Having run-flat tires does not mean that you do not check the air pressure in the tires. After running for some time, even after a puncture, the tire pressure can significantly become low and must be checked for air. The tire will then be replaced or repaired as advised by the automobile experts.

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

It would help if you drove on a spare tire up to 70 miles. A basic rule of thumb is to travel no more than 70 miles and no faster than 50 miles per hour. If you drive more than 70 miles, you can damage a car’s axles and cause severe car damage.

These short, narrow spares are meant to conserve room and weight in the vehicle, allowing manufacturers to create a smaller car. The tire, on the other hand, isn’t built to last. Driving time and speed recommendations may be found in your owner’s handbook. The main reason to avoid using spare tires or donut tires for an extended period is that they have little to no tread, leaving the spare tire exposed to road dangers and projectiles.

How Fast Can You Drive on a Donut?

With a donut-style spare tire, don’t travel faster than 50 mph or for more than 50 miles. Long-distance driving on a spare tire can cause damage to other automotive components, including the gearbox.

Donut spare tires are not designed for long-term use. They have no tread, no reinforcement in the carcass or body of the tire, and no belting to protect it from punctures and road irregularities. The tire’s sole purpose is to get you to a repair shop. The majority of these tires have a 70-mile maximum life.

Another reason to avoid driving on the spare tire is the risk of mechanical damage. Your differential may be prematurely worn due to the smaller spare tire. It is far more expensive to replace a differential than it is to replace a tire.

How Much Does a Spare Tire Cost?

Donut spare tires can cost anywhere from $50 to $300 in the United States (U.S.). A local tire store is the cheapest location to get a donut spare.

Most people refer to a donut tire as a spare tire since it is a temporary substitute for a flat tire. This spare tire might be the same as the original pair of tires or a less expensive, generic alternative. The tread on these spare tires will be missing, and the tire’s shell will be unreinforced, making them vulnerable to road irregularities.

Because these tires can impact the vehicle’s mobility and the driver’s ability to control the car, driving on a donut is not suggested unless necessary. When you have a flat tire, you utilize the donut to travel as far as the next repair shop or, if you live close by and have a tire that can replace the flat, to your home.

Can a Donut Tire Last 200 Miles?

Donut tires can only operate with a maximum range of 50 to 70 miles. Thus, don’t travel with a distance of more or less than 200 miles.

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You risk a lot of harm if you travel with a donut tire for an extended period. The lubricant, for example, may break down, causing extra wear on your gears and clutch plates. This is understandable given that these tires have little or no tread, making them vulnerable to road hazards and projectiles and rapid damage since they spin faster than conventional tires to keep up with the moving automobile.

What is the Difference Between a Donut and a Spare tire?

A donut is a temporary spare tire, whereas a spare tire is a full-size tire. Donut tires are small and meant to be driven for a short distance without spending too much.

Spare tires are the same size as the tires already on your car. You can regularly drive with spare tires, with no perceptible changes in performance or handling. It is advisable to include your full-size spare tire in your routine tire rotations if your vehicle has one. This procedure ensures that all of your tires are correctly inflated and worn equally.

Why is a Spare Tyre Called Stephanie?

A spare tire is called a Stephanie because of Stepney Sapre Wheels, which advertised light tires. Thomas Morris Davies designed the Stepney Spare Wheel in Llanelli in 1904.

The ingenious concept of Mr. Davies was to create a spokeless wheel rim with an inflated tire. T. Morris Davies and his brother Walter were producing replacement wheels in their Llanelli factory. As their company flourished, they became wealthy men who had offices worldwide.

Stepney Spare Wheels were proudly advertised in their 1909 brochure as fitting to all London cabs. Stepney Tyres Ltd was formed in 1922, and the company’s activities were relocated from Llanelli to Walthamstow. The patent spare wheel era had ended, as automobile manufacturers began to provide spare wheels with all new vehicles. On the other hand, the moniker went on long after the final spare wheel was manufactured. In India, Bangladesh, Malta, and Brazil, where it is known as an “estepe,” a “stepney” is still the common word for a spare wheel. Another twist to the story is that in Dehli, a laid-back member of staff who isn’t much assistance is known as a “stepney.”

Why is Car Spare Wheel Smaller?

The size of a spare tire is primarily because the spare tire is designed to take up less room in the car. Donut spares are typically smaller in diameter, thinner in breadth, and have a shallower tread, making excellent space savers.

Donut tires are often built of lightweight materials, resulting in a lighter vehicle. Full-size tires increase the car’s entire weight, which can reduce gas consumption; the more significant the tire, the more evident the negative effect.

Of course, a more straightforward and lighter spare tire costs less to manufacture than a full-sized one, which is reflected in the vehicle’s price. It’s crucial not to drive on a donut tire for an extended period since the size difference might affect alignment and handling. Furthermore, the tire is not designed to last—it is just intended to get your automobile to a tire repair shop safely—so continuing to use it is unwise. If you suffer a flat tire, get your regular tire fixed and reinstalled as soon as possible.

Why is Spare Tire Pressure So High?

Spare tires have high pressure because of the reduced size. Spare tires require more air pressure because of a smaller surface area than a full-size tire.

It’s no wonder why spare tires have higher air pressures than your regular full-sized tire because they need to compensate for the lack of surface area. It would be hazardous to run with low air pressure, so make sure that your spare has sufficient pressure!

Can You Put a Regular Tire on a Spare Rim?

A regular tire will not fit on a spare tire rim because the spare rim is too narrow for a standard tire. To achieve that, acquire a regular-sized rim.

While you might hear some people claiming to be pros concerning car tires—saying that regular tires do fit in spare rims, they technically can; however, it would be a gamble you wouldn’t want to take.

What Happens if You Go to Fast on a Spare Tire?

If a driver drives too rapidly on a spare tire, the car may fail or blow out, causing damage. Driving too quickly also increases the risk of losing control and colliding with other vehicles or pedestrians on the road.

Suppose your spare tire blows out while driving; your automobile will likely lose control and crash. This is why it’s critical to keep a complete pair of tires on hand if something goes wrong. Because a spare tire is only meant to be utilized for a short period, you must drive gently when using it. When you drive too rapidly, your tires may blow out, causing damage to your vehicle.

Do Spare Tires Lose Air?

Yes, spare tires lose air. Like regular tires, spare tires also lose perspective over time, so the air pressure is at 60 PSI.

A spare tire is only used in an emergency. As a result, a spare tire should be inflated to 60 PSI. Tires lose air pressure over time, so they have such a high PSI. Because a car spare tire is left unused for lengthy periods, it is preferable to have more significant air pressure. Otherwise, you can find yourself in a position where the spare tire’s air pressure is too low to use.

How Tight Should a Spare Tire Be?

Usually, spare tires need to be tight enough not to wobble or move. However, to know the technicalities, tightening tension for the spare tire carrier should be 29.50 lb. +/- 4.43 lb. ft (40 Nm) feet (6 Nm).

Making your spare tire fit in too tightly may be very troublesome for you, so make sure to make it snug enough to not move from its position. Making it not tight enough is also a problem, significantly if you’re speeding—it might get out of its rim, and voila! You know what will happen next.

How Do I Know if My Spare Tire is Good?

There are three things to inspect from spare tires to assure good condition: air pressure, tread life, and overall condition. Always inspect these three to avoid misadventures on the road.

It’s critical to check the spare tire’s air pressure regularly. This can guarantee that the tire is ready to drive on when you need it. When checking the air pressure of the other tires, you should also check the spare tire’s air pressure. There might be a leak anywhere on the spare tire if you find it needs air more frequently. If the air pressure in the tire is too low, it may blow out.

The spare tire’s wear should also be checked regularly. If you must drive on the spare tire, ensure sufficient tread on it. The tire will not be able to grip the road as effectively as it should if it has little or no tread. It can also lead to poor driving performance. The spare tire is necessary to go to where the standard tire will be repaired.

While the spare tire is being checked for correct air pressure and tread, the tire should also be examined for its general condition. The spare tire may develop dry rot over time. This is because the tire is not utilized as frequently as the other tires. The tire should be repaired as soon as possible if it has any cracks or puncture marks. In certain circumstances, purchasing a new spare tire for the car will be more cost-effective.

Can You Drive on a Spare Tire in the Rain?

Yes, you can drive on a spare tire in the rain. However, when driving in bad weather, such as rain, be extra cautious because the donut spare tire has minimal tread and provides little to no grip. Remember that spare tires are not regular tires.

Of course, the very fact that it’s raining should make you slow down and drive more carefully than you are currently driving. It will be problematic if you lose your spare tire because you’re driving recklessly in the rain—unless you have a spare for your spare tire. Maybe add a third extra if you’re confident going in the shower.

Joking aside, try to be very careful running on a spare tire while raining.

Do You Torque a Spare Tire?

Yes, there’s a need to torque a spare tire. 110 Nm is the recommended torque (11 kg-m,80 Ib-ft)

Remember not to apply too much torque as it may not be budged easily. It may damage your car as you are trying to budge it forcefully. Always seek professional help if you don’t know how to do it; however, if you’re stranded nowhere and need to change your car’s tire right now and don’t know how much force 110 NM means, try to snug it in enough for it not to wobble.

How Much Air Does a Donut Tire Need?

A spare tire’s air pressure, or PSI, is 60. On the other hand, the air pressure should be between 32 and 38 PSI on a full-size spare.

Most spare tires have markings that indicate how much air pressure they will need. Just try following the instructions written on the manual of your spare, and you’ll be safe with the air pressure your spare tire would need.

How Long Does a Spare Tire Hold Air?

Air leaves the tire at a monthly rate of 1-3 psi. The tire’s model and make determines the exact amount of air loss.

The ability of air to travel through the structure of the tire rubber is known as osmosis or permeation. Varying rubber mixtures have different penetration rates. Air loss of 1-3 psi per month is typical, but you should monitor inflation rates regularly and re-inflate your tires. Tire inflation may be lost by as much as 6-18 psi if left unattended for six months, and with the most frequently recommended rate being 30-35 psi, this is a significant loss.

Can You Reuse a Donut Tire?

Technically speaking, a donut tire can still be reused. Always remember to judge the reusability of the tire against the tire’s condition.

Most spare tires can be used again if they’re still in good condition to be reused. However, if you suspect that it’s too dangerous to use your spare tire, buy a new one after you’ve used it. It’s always advisable to choose your safety over money.


This article taught us the three types of tires and their advantages and disadvantages. It would help if you understood that having a spare tire is necessary, but it should not be taken as a permanent solution. Instead, you should stop at your automobile shop and seek assistance as early as possible.

Robert Aksamit

Robert Aksamit

Robert Aksamit is a mechanical engineer and automotive industry expert. Born in Minnesota, Robert worked in the US automotive industry last 25 years. He is highly regarded for his passion and dedication to continually improving vehicles in response to customer feedback. Robert has a keen eye for sourcing the best vehicle components and materials on the market and is always looking for ways to enhance the user experience. As a writer, Robert covers automotive-related topics. Read more on Robert Aksamit's biography page. Contact Robert:

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