Getting a flat tire can be quite an experience in itself. You’ll have to change your tires and replace it temporarily with your spare. Come to think of it, now is the only time that you’ve ever used your spare tire. This leads most vehicle owners to ask themselves how far they can drive on a spare tire.
The Elusive Number
If you’re looking for definite numbers to begin with, you’ll find these to be highly varied. The reason is quite simple. Different vehicle manufacturers will have different kinds of space-savers they have included under your trunk when you purchased your vehicle. Now if you bought your vehicle as second-hand, the answer as to the distance you can go on a spare time can be even more dismal, to say the least. You’ll never know if the first owner of the car has already used the spare during the time that it was in his possession and if so, how far did it go.
Donut or Space-Saver Spares
Most vehicle manufacturer put a 50-mile rating on their spare with a top speed of 55 miles per hour. Push your car beyond its speed limit and you might end up on a hospital bed. Some vehicle manufacturers can go even further than 50 miles; they can provide you with spares that are good to take up to 70 miles.
Now do understand that these donuts or space-savers are not built for maximum durability, strength, and road-worthiness. These are usually lightweight and come with tread patterns that are very different from the ones installed on your wheels. Most spare tires also come with a single layer of flimsy polyester on its sidewall. The tread can be constructed of only two belts of steel and then covered with another layer of polyester. In other words, even if you have your spare tire on your wheel, you are not supposed to drive your vehicle as if you have ordinary tires on. The whole idea is that spare tires should only be used on your car in moments of need. Once you’ve put on your spare tire you’re supposed to have your primary tires fixed as soon as possible.
Some vehicle manufacturers will not give you a donut or a space-saver spare tire. Instead, they will give you a full-sized spare tire that looks and weighs just like your regular tires. Unfortunately, the tread pattern and rubber compound used in these kinds of tires may be a lot different from the ones already under your vehicle. Because you will be driving on different tread patterns with different traction properties, there will be significant issues on vehicle controllability and handling. Again, while full-sized spares do look and feel like your standard tires, under no circumstances should you drive with these for more than the recommended mileage which is, fortunately, a lot farther than the 50- to 70- mile distance on donuts.
If you don’t have a spare tire and you really don’t like adding that much weight into your car, you might want to try out run-flat tires. These are special tires that can withstand a deep puncture and still get you going. Of course, as tough and durable as they seem, you are still supposed to bring them to the shop to have patched or fixed should they get punctured. At any rate, these tires will still allow you to continue driving without having to replace your flat tire. Do understand that these are mighty expensive though.
A donut spare tire can take you 50, 70 miles while a full-sized spare tire can get you even farther than that. However, regardless of whether it is a donut or a full-sized spare, you should still do everything you can to have your standard tire fixed at the soonest possible time.