How Long Can You Drive On A Spare Tire?

Last updated on March 26th, 2024 at 12:29 pm

Installing the spare tire but unsure whether it can help you reach your destination? We hear you. While spare tires are a blessing in emergencies, drivers are always concerned about their range. Some spare tires can cover hundreds of miles, but few can’t. You may ask, “Why is it so?”. Well, this guide will answer all your questions & help you understand how long can you drive on a spare tire without experiencing any damage. 

Types of Spare Tires 

To know the estimated distance you can cover on spare tires, first figure out what kind of spare tire you’re using. There are generally two types of spare tires manufacturers have introduced for vehicles. One is a donut tire, and the other is a full-size spare tire. 

Donut tire:

These are temporary replacement tires for passenger cars, crossovers, or minivans. Donut tires are smaller than regular tires because they are designed for temporary travel while saving space in a car trunk. Hence, they are also known as space-saver spare tires. Moreover, donut tires have less tread and shallow tread depth than regular ones, resulting in poor performance.

Full-size spare tire: 

As the name suggests, these tires are similar in structure and so in performance to the regular tires of your vehicle. Full-size spare tires are used in SUVs, trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles where donut tires can’t work after the standard tires go flat. 

How Long Can You Drive on a Donut Spare Tire? 

You can drive up to 50 miles on a donut tire because of its small size, poor tread, and compromised material quality. Hence, if you’re using a donut or space-saver tire to replace the punctured tire, try locating a mechanic shop within 50 or a maximum of 60 miles of range to repair your tires

How Long Can You Drive on a Full-Size Spare Tire? 

You can drive much longer on a full-size spare tire than with a donut tire. However, the exact range depends on the condition of your spare tire and brand specifications. For example, if the spare tire is the same brand/model as your standard vehicle tires and you keep it well maintained, i.e., properly inflated, clean tread, etc., it can support you up to several hundreds of miles. 

The reverse can happen if your full-size spare tire does not match to vehicle tires. While a full spare tire can cover more distance, it’s still a temporary solution. Auto technicians recommend replacing spare tires with new or repaired ones as soon as possible to avoid losing out on this emergency fix. 

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

Driving long on spare tires can lead to costly damages. For example, if you keep moving on donut tires even after reaching 60 miles, it can result in loss of control as the little to no tread areas will not provide traction and grip, especially during cornering. 

Moreover, in severe cases, using spare tires for long travel can damage your car transmission, axle, wheel bearings, etc. Likewise, pushing the limits of full-size spare tires can result in fast tread wear, leading to a shorter lifespan. 

So, whatever kind of spare tire you intend to use, don’t consider it a permanent solution. Reach the nearby mechanic shop, get your flat tire repaired, and save the spare one for the unfortunate conditions.  


How fast can you drive on spare tires? 

According to AAA, keep the speed limit to 50 mph when driving on spare tires. Going beyond this can lead to tire failures and blowouts. Moreover, it can increase the chances of the tire coming off your vehicle. 

What is the cost of replacing a spare tire? 

Full-size tire replacement costs more than donut spare tires due to its weight and size. The exact price varies from region to region. However, generally, you can expect a budget of $50 to $100 for space-saver or compact tires while $150 to $300 for full-size spare tires. 

Can you use spare tires on the highway? 

While technically possible, using a spare tire on the highway is not recommended, especially if it’s a space-saver or donut tire, due to safety reasons. But, if you have to do so in scenarios out of your control, for example, when your tire gets flat on the highway, and there’s no option left, drive at 50 mph and keep yourself in one direction.  

How long does a spare tire last?

Since spare tires are meant to be used only in emergencies for covering a few miles, their lifespan can compete with the regular tires. Generally, a spare tire lasts 7 years or more. However, like regular car tires, spare tires’ life depends on many other factors, such as the quality of the tire and how well you take care of it. For example, a well-maintained spare tire from a reputable brand can last longer than a spare tire from a local shop. 

Sum Up

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how long to drive on spare tires. Remember, whether donut or full-size, spare tires are lifesavers, not long-term companions. So, don’t go farther than 50 miles on these and get your tire replaced by a technician as soon as possible to ensure your and others’ safety. 

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