How Long Can You Drive on a Spare – (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Upto 10 years

A spare tire is usually a smaller tire that is included in the trunk of your vehicle and is used for emergency purposes. This can be when your tire is flat, has blown out, or there is some other problem that makes it difficult to drive.

The spare tire is not just a tire but also includes the rims so that the tire can easily be placed onto the vehicle. It can be the identical size as the ones used on the vehicle, a smaller, limited size tire which is sometimes called a “donut”.

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

Spare Tire TypeLifespan
Full-size matching spareUp to 10 years
Full-size but non-matching spareUp to 10 years but with issues due to non balance
Compact Temporary mini-spare (donut)Long term however used only for short distances at a time
Full size temporary spareLong enough to get to safety and repair the tire…but can be reused 
Folding temporary spareVery limited..has to be inflated
Run flat tires10 to 50 miles after being punctured

The length of time you can drive using a spare depends on the type of spare that you have. For example, if you have a full-size spare tire that is the same type of tire as the one you normally use, then you can change the tire and drive on it until you need another tire.

Once you change the tire and start to drive on it, the length of time you can drive on the new tire also depends on how much you drive and the normal wear and tear that you usually put on a tire. These types of tires can last up to 10 years.

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A limited size tire is designed to be used until you get to safety and can replace the old tire with a newer one. Also, the limited size tire is not meant to be driven faster than 50mph due to its limited durability.

Why Can You Drive This Long on a Spare Tire?

A normal-sized spare tire is just like the tires you drive on every day. Therefore, these tires are designed to last some years depending on how often you drive, the terrain you drive in, the weather conditions, and even the length of time that you drive.

Since the normal size tire is the same size as the ones that are normally driven on the vehicle, there is no concern for uneven wear or any type of unbalance. The limited size tire is smaller and usually has little to no tread.

Tread is how well a tire can stay on the road. If the limited size tire does not have much tread, it can become dangerous to drive it over 50mph and to drive a long distance.

Also, the limited size tire is usually smaller than a normal tire and if driven longer than necessary, it can cause other damage to your vehicle. This damage is caused because the limited size tire makes the vehicle unbalanced and when a vehicle is unbalanced, it makes the vehicle shake or moves from side to side.

An unbalanced vehicle can also cause steering problems, uneven wear, and bad bearings and shocks. All of which, can lead to accidents.

The limited size tire can also be reused repeatedly. Once it is replaced with a newer tire, it can be placed back into its storage are which is usually the trunk of the vehicle.