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How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire? 

Man changes tire

Picture this: You’re cruising down the highway, the day is perfect, with the wind in your hair and your favorite tunes playing in the background. Suddenly, you feel a thud and your car begins to wobble. You pull over, and there it is—a flat tire. Fortunately, you’re prepared with a spare. But here’s the real question: how long can you actually drive on that spare tire? 

For anyone driving a car, this is essential knowledge to ensure your safety and the longevity of your vehicle. 

Understanding Your Spare Tire 

There are two main types of spare tires: the compact temporary (or “donut”) and the full-size spare. The kind you have will significantly determine how far and fast you can drive. 

  • Compact Temporary Spare (Donut): This is the most common type found in many vehicles. It’s smaller than your regular tires and is designed purely for short-term use. Ideally, you should drive a maximum of 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 mph on a donut. Pushing it further than this can result in damage to the car or, worse, a blowout. But don’t take our word for it, we recommend referring to your vehicle’s manual, or better yet, check with your dealership’s service department – experts are here to help. 
  • Full-Size Spare: This is essentially a fifth regular tire for your car. If you have one of these, you can theoretically drive on it if you would on your regular tire. However, it’s still a good idea to replace it with a regular tire as soon as convenient. A full-size spare might not be an exact match to your other tires, which can lead to uneven wear and tear. 

The Risks of Driving on a Spare 

Regardless of whether you’re driving your brand-new car out from a showroom or taking your trusty used car for a spin in the Inland Empire, driving on a spare tire for an extended period can pose certain risks: 

  • Uneven wear: Your spare, especially if it’s a donut, isn’t designed to handle the same load as your regular tires. This can cause uneven wear and put added strain on the other tires. 
  • Limited capability: Donuts don’t have the same grip or handling capabilities as regular tires. This can be risky, especially in wet or slippery conditions. 
  • Potential for a blowout: Pushing a spare tire beyond its intended use can result in a blowout, which can be dangerous at high speeds. 

What Should You Do After Installing Your Spare? 

First and foremost, take a deep breath. Recognizing the spare tire is a temporary solution. Here’s a suggested plan of action: 

  • Limit your driving: Only drive what’s necessary and avoid highways if possible. 
  • Check tire pressure: Ensure that your spare is inflated to the recommended PSI. Many drivers forget that spare tires can lose air over time, even if they’re not in use. Guide to Tire Pressure 
  • Head to a service center: Whether you’re around the Ontario Auto Center or somewhere else in the Inland Empire, look for a reputable service center to check your tire. They can advise if it can be repaired or if you need a replacement. Schedule a service here. 
  • Consider car shopping: If your tires are showing consistent wear or you frequently face flat tires, it might be a sign that your vehicle is nearing its end. It’s time to consider car shopping, be it for a new car or a quality used car. The Ontario Auto Center, for instance, offers a range of vehicles to suit various needs and budgets. 


A flat tire can be a minor hiccup in your journey, but driving extensively on a spare tire isn’t advisable. Ensure you have the right knowledge, stay safe, and if you’re ever in the mood for car shopping, remember there’s a plethora of options awaiting you in Ontario, be it for a new car or a dependable used one. Visit Us 

For more information on vehicle maintenance, schedule a service 

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