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How Long Can You Safely Drive on a Spare Tire?

How Long Can You Safely Drive on a Spare Tire?

Getting stuck on the side of the road is never a good time.

If you’ve got a spare tire, they’re a great way to regain mobility when a tire is flat. 

You can put it on, and then you’re able to start driving again.

However, not everyone realizes you’ve got to get another tire after putting on a spare. Spare tires can’t just drive forever. They’re only meant to go a certain distance.

But just how far can you drive on a spare tire?

Donut spare tires should only be driven a maximum of 50-100 miles and not over a speed of 50 miles per hour, whereas full-size tires have no added limitations of distance or speed compared to the vehicle’s regular tires.

If you drive a Tesla, well, you may be out of luck in the spare tire department.

Keep reading to learn more about how long and far you can safely drive on spare tires!

What’s The Farthest You Can Drive On A Donut?

The distance you’re able to drive on a spare depends on which type of spare you’ve got. Some of them are able to go much further than others.

The best type of spare you can get would be a full-sized replacement. These don’t have any restrictions, meaning you can drive anywhere with them!

Most of the time, a full-sized spare would be able to drive as far as a regular tire. As such, you shouldn’t need to replace them until you’ve gone more than 30,000 miles. 

A donut is a different story, though! 

These are way smaller than your typical tire. As a result, you’re not able to drive on them like you would with a regular tire.

Most donut spare tires are only good for 50 to 100 miles. Anything longer than that would put them at risk of failure, leaving you stranded once again.

If you’ve got a donut, try putting it on the back of your car. It’ll last longer because it won’t be under as much stress while you’re driving.

You shouldn’t drive faster than 50 mph if you’ve got a donut on your car, either. 

Driving too fast on one of them could make it pop. Plus, you’re not going to have as much control while driving if the car has a donut.

Of course, a lot of spares feature run-flat technology. This tech lets you drive on a tire that’s got a leak.

You shouldn’t drive on them too long, though. Make sure you’ve got another tire to replace the run-flat one.

Put a new tire on your car if you’d like to drive further than 100 miles. 

Run-flat tires can take you a decent distance, but they’re not meant to go forever. The sooner you’re able to replace them, the better your car is going to run.

As soon as you put on a spare, you should start looking for a replacement. Your spare won’t last that long, so you’ve got to replace it soon.

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

Driving on a spare for too long could cause damage to your car. Since they’re not the right size, a donut tends to displace your car.

It’ll sit at a slight angle until you’ve put another tire on it.

Spares aren’t built to withstand a ton of punishment. They’re great at taking you a short distance when you’ve got a flat. But, going too far might cause them to break.

Most of the time, a spare tire will last around 100 miles. Some of them can last longer than that, but you shouldn’t count on it. 

Going further than that might cause them to develop a leak, causing them to go flat.

Spare tires get put under a lot of stress whenever they’re on your car. Because they’re temporary, manufacturers don’t build spares to last forever.

Typically, they’ve made them tough enough to last for 100 miles of driving.

Full-sized spares can last way longer, though. Some of them can even function as a regular replacement. 

That’s why you’re able to drive on them at highway speeds. They’re the same sized as the rest of the tires on your car. So, they won’t cause any issues if you’re driving on them for a while.

If you’ve got a run-flat tire, you shouldn’t drive on them too long. Driving on them too much could damage your car’s transmission system. 

That’s because turning a flat tire takes way more energy than a normal one.

The longer you’re driving on a flat, the more stress you’re putting on your car. 

Putting it under too much stress could cause something else to break inside of it.

Spare tires usually have thinner walls than the ones you’d find in a regular tire. 

That’s why they’re not as heavy as a regular one. 

Their thin walls might reduce their weight, but they also reduce their lifespan.

It doesn’t take as much wear and tear to break down a spare. So, you shouldn’t drive on them too far.

Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with another flat before you know it.

Can You Drive on the Highway With a Spare Tire?

Whether you’re able to drive on the highway depends on which type of spare you’ve got. A full-sized spare doesn’t have any type of restrictions. You’re able to drive your car as usual.

Other types of spare tires don’t give you the same freedom, though. Donuts usually won’t let you drive faster than 50 mph. That’s because they’re way smaller than the rest of your car’s tires.

Driving too fast on a donut would put it under a ton of stress, decreasing its lifespan. 

If you’ve got a donut on your car, stick to the side roads. You’ll be able to drive a lot further if you’re able to stay under 50 mph.

Taking a donut on the highway would be incredibly risky, so don’t do it. 

Since they’re not the right size, you’ll notice handling issues at high speeds if you’ve got one.

Run-flat tires also shouldn’t exceed 50 mph. Run-flat tires can handle a little friction if you’ve got to drive on them without any air. 

But, they’re not going to survive if you’re driving on them at highway speeds.

Always look at the spare’s directions before putting them on your car to see if it’s got any restrictions. 

Follow them to the letter, so they’ll last as long as possible. Most spares let you know whether they’re able to drive on the highway in the directions.

Do Spare Tires Need to Be Replaced?

Replacing your spare tire might not be something that crosses your mind often. However, you shouldn’t forget to replace them at least once every 7 years. 

Tires don’t last forever, even if they’re in storage.

Spares tend to last a little longer than your typical tire if you’ve got them in storage. Still, they’re not going to last forever. 

After 7 years, their rubber will begin to break down, weakening them.

You should always replace them after you’ve used them, too. Even driving a short distance could cause a lot of wear and tear.

Replacing the spare on your car would make sure you’ve got one that’s going to work. Nothing feels worse than realizing your spare isn’t going to get the job done. Getting a new spare would make that impossible, thankfully.

Spare Tire Alternatives

What else can you do if you’ve got a flat tire, besides using a spare? There are actually quite a few things you can do to get back on the road if one of your tires loses its air.

The American Automobile Association has an amazing roadside assistance service. If you’re a member of AAA, you can call them at any time.

Usually, you don’t even have to pay anything to order a tow truck.

You’ve just got to pay the monthly membership, and you qualify for their assistance. 

Just give them a call the next time you’ve got a flat. They’ll help you find a tow truck that can take you to a nearby mechanic.

Another way you can handle a flat would be by using fix-a-flat

This is a type of spray that’s able to help seal leaks. Most of the time, you’ve got to pump it into the tire through its valve stem.

Then, you’ve got to use an air pump to refill the tire with air. Once it’s full, you’re supposed to drive a short distance, spreading the spray around. It should coat the tire’s interior after you’ve driven for a few minutes.

Take a look at the tire’s exterior to see whether there’s anything leaking. The fix-a-flat should leak out from where the air was escaping if you’ve applied it properly. 

At first, it might leak quite a bit. But, it’ll slow down as it begins to set.

Don’t drive too long on a tire that’s got fix-a-flat in it, though. 

It’s a great way to get your car back on the road. But, it’s not going to extend your tires’ lifespans that much.

Another option would be to give your insurance company a call.

A lot of them actually include roadside assistance with their policies. Just give them a call, and they’ll help you find a tow truck nearby.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A lot of drivers have questions about their spare tires. Here are a few answers to the most common questions we’ve heard.

Can You Drive 100 Miles on a Spare Tire?

Sometimes, you’re able to drive even further than 100 miles on a spare. You’ve got to check the spare’s instructions to see how far it’s been rated.

Can a Donut Tire Last 200 Miles?

Most donuts aren’t meant to drive further than 50-100 miles. Driving 200 miles on one of them would be rather risky.

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of VehicleAnswers.com! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!