How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire

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Once you experience a puncture on your tire, you often turn to the trusty ol’ spare that’s been sitting in the trunk, waiting for its moment to shine. You managed to switch tires, and the spare is now being utilized to propel your vehicle to the repair shop.

Now the question remains: How long can you drive on a spare tire? This seemingly simple question has a tricky answer, and you have to consider a few factors to answer the question. We examine these factors in the article below to help you stay safe on the road.

When wondering how long you can drive on a spare tire, we look at:

  • Donut tires.
  • Full size spare tires.
  • Run-flat tires.
  • Speeds and distances on each one.


How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

The type of spare you have handy in your car plays a significant role in determining how long you can drive on a spare tire. In older models, you’d notice that every car came with a spare tire that would perfectly match the car.

This allows the user to quickly and easily switch between the main tires and the spare tires. After that, you can pretty much run the car as if it was on the original set as the tire is entirely compatible.

You’ll notice this system still in place when you pick up a truck or an SUV. A tire well is attached to the back of these vehicles, and it often holds a full size spare that can be used to replace the old flat tire perfectly. Although these full size spares are heavier than the smaller spares used today, they are known to be far more durable.

Once you swap out the spare tire with the flat, it only comes down to checking the air pressure in your tires, and you’re good to go on your way. The one major change you may notice when you’re using your spare, however, is that the tires may start handling a bit differently.

This is because three of the tires are likely to have the same tread count as they would have been used the same amount. The new spare tire, on the other hand, may not be as worn out as the rest of the tires, and this may change your driving experience just the slightest.

The Era of Donut Tires

Over time, however, most car manufacturers have realized that most users tend to utilize the spare tire relatively infrequently. This led to a change in the size and design of the spare time being provided with vehicles moving forward.

Instead of providing full-sized tires, manufacturers have opted for a space-saver spare or a donut tire.These tires allow you to switch between the flat tire and the spare one easily, and you can run this set-up until you get to a nearby mechanic.

A donut spare tire is not built to last and is only meant to serve as a safety measure to help you get your car safely to the mechanic. To determine the ideal driving time and speed for the spare tire, it’s best to check with the owner’s manual of the car.

The general rule followed for a spare doughnut tire is that these tires will stay safe for up to roughly 70 miles, and you can go as fast as 50 miles per hour if you need to. Again, we’d recommend verifying the information from the owner’s manual to determine the precise value of the mileage and speeds.

One of the biggest reasons it isn’t safe to utilize a donut spare tire over long distances is that the tread offered in these tires is often quite poor. These donut spare tires have virtually little to no tread and it becomes unsafe to use them over extended periods, especially if you’re driving on wet or snowy roads.

The other big factor to remember here is that the spare is not as big as the rest of your tires, so the driving experience will not be entirely even either.

The smaller tire will spin a lot faster and it will also cause the lubricating grease to break down when hitting speeds over 70 miles an hour. This will cause the gear and clutch plates to wear down far quicker as well.

Evolving to Run-Flat Tire

Considering how important road safety has become over the decades, manufacturers spent some time improving on the safety of spare tires, and the result is a new breed of wheels known as run-flat tires.

Thanks to these tires, you don’t have to worry about carrying a spare with you as these tires are capable of withstanding the damage caused by punctures. Instead of creating a flat tire in this scenario, you can use a run-flat to drive a limited distance at a reduced speed before it becomes important to replace the tires.

This gives you plenty of time to get your car to a mechanic and have your puncture fixed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Spare Tires


What Happens If You Drive Too Fast on a Spare Tire?

When you drive too fast on a spare tire, especially a donut tire, you will end up damaging your wheel and other parts of the car as well such as the transmission.

How Far Can You Go With a Spare Tire?

You can travel up to 70 miles on a donut tire and 50 miles on a run-flat tire. These are just the general figures for tires, and it’s best to consult with your manual before hitting those speeds.

Can You Drive on a Highway With a Spare Tire?

Yes, you can drive on a highway with a spare tire. The only time it may get tricky for the driver is when the weather conditions take a turn for the worse, and you have to deal with snow, hail, or heavy rain.

Can You Drive 70 Mph on a Spare Tire?

Yes, you can drive 70 mph on a full size spare tire that perfectly matches your previous tires. Attempting to drive at this speed on a run-flat tire or a donut tire is dangerous. Make sure to stick to a maximum of 50 mph with a donut tire.

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Spare a Thought

Your spare tire can be the most invaluable item when you’re stranded with a puncture to your wheel. It certainly helps to have a perfect tire spare or a run-flat tire, but for those who have to deal with donut spares, carrying one becomes a sheer necessity across long journeys.

Tires play a major role in the overall functioning of a car, not to mention they affect the fuel economy, so it’s essential to maintain their health over time.

The critical thing to remember here is that it isn’t a great idea to run on a spare tire for very long, especially if it doesn’t match the rest of your tires. When you do find yourself in a situation where you have a flat tire, drive cautiously to a mechanic to fix the problem immediately.


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