You don't need to know rocket science to understand how spare tire works. But your question is - How long can I really drive on a spare tire? or how long does a spare tire last?
If you have a car, chances are you already came across the spare tire strapped on the outside of your car, or whatever location the manufacturer decided to put them. They normally come in smaller than the existing car tires with good reason, but some come in with fancier styles, frequently matching with the rest of the wheels just in case you don't want anyone seeing you in these.
Spare tires either are at full size or small ones like donuts. To understand how long does a spare tire last, you shall know the types of them first.
Table of Contents
The Types of Spare Tires
Full-Size Spare Tires – What About Them?
Full-size tires are bigger than donuts and are designed to minimize transmission damage when being temporarily used. However, some of them are also thin and have the same distance limitation.
And then there are the heavy-duty spare tires that are made to replace the damaged tire. They are bigger and tougher and share the same tire model as your car's. You can already count this as your fifth tire!
The thing is, with these heavy-duty ones, is that they are heavier and way thicker than the full-size tires, taking up more space and further weighing down your vehicle.
A Donut tire
Donut tires, like most spares, should only be driven at no more than 50 miles per hour. This is because, to save space, they were designed with minimal tread. As a result, they are quite vulnerable to road hazards.
For a more accurate speed limit, most tires come with stickers plastered in the middle that indicates the maximum speed capacity.
How Long Does A Spare Tire Last?
As you know, Spare tires either come in at full size or small ones like donuts. If there ever was a more accurate reading of how long do they last, then look no further than the owner's manual that came in with the car.
When is the last time you took a look at your manual anyway? You might be driving the same car for the last ten years without knowing it came with an ejector seat attached!
But you came here for the tires and not instructions on how to read, so, moving on.
A Donut tire is a term used for the smaller, temporary tires that generally comes free with the vehicle upon purchase and are intended to be used with a particular role in mind.
You see, the fact that they are smaller and way thinner than your average wheel means they are less durable and highly likely to cause damage to your transmission over time due to its faster rotation speed.
They are intended to be used only to get your vehicle to the repair station and get patched up and running again. They are not designed to run long distances.
They usually have an average distance of 70 miles, anything going higher than that is asking for trouble.
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How To Use A Spare Tire
Despite having the best protection, modern-day main battle tanks can still suffer severe damages when going headlong into battle. The same goes for your beloved tires. They may have state-of-the-art technology built into them, but they are nothing against the ravages of time.
Or a simple nail is sticking out of the ground.
Anyways, there will come a time that you will have to use this. You may not like the look, you may not like the effort, and you definitely may not like the car repairman, but you have to do it. Your vehicle can only count on you during these dire times.
So let's say your car just decided to have alone time with you, or with your family, and popped a tire. Being the responsible driver that you are, you chose to get out and start the repairs.
Items You Will Need:
- Lug Wrench
- The Spare Tire
You could also wear gloves; bring a flashlight just in case, a block of wood to make sure the jack stays in place, or maybe a raincoat.
What You Need To Do
Step 1: Find a safe spot for replacing the tire. Don’t just stop anywhere. Turn on your hazard lights. Make sure you apply the parking brake.
Step 2: Removing the Cover. Remove the wheel cover and then loosen the lug nuts. Make sure to only loosen it until you are already able to rotate them by hand.
Step 3: Put the Jack in Place. To avoid damage to your car when using the jack, look for a conspicuous area near the tire that conveniently matches the jack head.
Or you could refer to your user manual.
Step 4: Replace the Tire. Slowly lifting the car with the jack, remove the tire. The lug nuts should now be ready to be removed by hand regarding looseness.
Get the spare tire and place it in, again making sure the lug nuts are still loose.
Step 5: Lower the Vehicle. Gently lower your car back to ground level, then use the lug wrench to screw the lug nuts back in place.
And after this, you should probably pat yourself on the back because this is it. You just unscrewed a tire and screwed another one in.
And if you think that was still not worth the work, then you could whip out your trusty cell phone. The towing service is just a phone call away.
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Things to Remember
Always make sure your car is in tip-top shape before heading out. You may never know when it decides to have a one-on-one with you again.
Check the tire air pressure on the spare tires. With modern tires lasting up to a decade, you may have already forgotten the little guy sitting on the roof for so long. So after a puncture, make sure to check the air pressure before plugging it in.
Remember the limits of the spare tires - how long you can drive on a spare tire. You are not allowed to go on a long road trip with them.
Consult the owner's manual for some additional hints on tire replacement, and how long does the spare tire last. Some cars are just really special.
That was that. You now know your spare tire.
Simon graduated with a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Degree. He has over 20 years of servicing experience in both Japanese and German car dealerships. He now acts as a freelance mechanic’s instructor for local schools.