How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

When you experience a flat tire, the spare tire is your savior. It provides a temporary solution to get you back on the road, but it’s crucial to know that it’s not meant for prolonged use. Driving on a spare tire for too long can lead to various issues and even put your safety at risk. So, how long can you drive on a spare tire?

A flat tire can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. It’s a frustrating experience that often leaves drivers stranded on the roadside or stuck in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, most cars have a spare tire to help you get back on your way. Many drivers wonder how long they can drive on their temporary spare before replacing it. Driving on a spare tire is not ideal as it has limitations compared to regular tires.

What is a Spare Tire?

A spare tire is an additional wheel carried in a vehicle for emergencies. It is usually mounted on the back of a car or stored in the trunk. Spare tires come in various sizes depending on the make and model of the vehicle, and they are designed to be used temporarily until a permanent replacement can be made.

Spare tires are typically smaller than regular tires and are known as “donuts” due to their shape. They have less tread depth than regular tires, so they may not provide as much traction or handling ability. They are still an important safety feature that can help drivers escape tricky situations if they experience a flat tire or blowout.

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

Have you ever experienced a flat tire while driving? It’s one of the most frustrating and stressful situations that drivers can face. The good news is that most vehicles come equipped with a spare tire. Many people are unsure how long they can drive on their spare tire before replacing it.

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of spare tire you have and the condition of your other tires. If your vehicle has a full-size spare tire with the same specifications as your regular tires, you could drive on it for an extended period without any issues. If your car has a compact or temporary spare tire, also known as a donut, you should only use it for short distances and at low speeds.

Full-Size Spare Tire:

If you own a vehicle with a full-size spare tire, consider yourself lucky. Unlike temporary spare tires, full-size spares have the same construction as your car’s other tires. This means they offer better handling and longer tread life than their temporary counterparts.

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire

One of the biggest advantages of having a full-size spare tire is that it gives you more options in an emergency. If one of your regular tires blows out or develops a puncture, you can easily replace it with your spare and continue using your car as normal until you have time to get the damaged tire repaired or replaced. Another benefit of having a full-size spare tire is that it can be used longer than temporary spares.

Full-Size Matching Spare Tire:

Have you ever wondered how long you can drive on a spare tire? The answer lies in the condition of your spare tire. If it has the same pattern and size as your running tires, then it is safe to say that you can use it for as long as needed. This is why vehicle owners are advised to have their spare tires match their running tires.

Driving on a mismatched or undersized spare tire can be dangerous. It can affect the balance of your vehicle and make steering difficult, putting you at risk of an accident. Not only that but driving on such a tire for too long can cause damage to your suspension system and other parts of your car, leading to costly repairs. If you want to avoid any safety risks while changing a flat tire on the road, ensure that your spare tire matches the size and pattern of your running tires.

Pros & Cons:


  • The aesthetics of your vehicle are preserved.
  • You don’t need to go directly to the dealer.
  • Offers peace of mind and assurance while driving long distances.
  • Provides a reliable backup tire in the event of a flat or blowout.


  • Your vehicle requires a storage space.

Full-Size Non-Matching Spare Tire:

Full-size, non-matching spare tires are becoming more popular among car owners. These tires, which have the same size as the running ones but may have different patterns, offer many advantages over traditional smaller-sized spares. One of the biggest benefits is that they provide better performance and handling in emergencies.

Another advantage is that full-size non-matching spare tires extend the life of your regular tires. Rather than replacing your tire with an older, worn-out spare, you can use a tire that matches the quality and specifications of your other tires. If you need to drive on it for an extended time (such as when getting to a repair shop), you can do so without worrying about damaging your rims or suspension system.

An example would be having a Full-Size Non-Matching Spare Tire, such as the Michelin Crossclimate 2 225 45R17.

  • Your spare tire is a full-size matching Michelin Crossclimate 2 225 45R17 tire.
  • A full-size non-matching spare tire would be the Michelin Defender T H 225 45R17.

Pros & Cons:


  • Driving straight to the repair shop is not allowed.
  • Adds value to the vehicle and can improve resale value.
  • Offers improved traction, handling, and stability compared to temporary spare tires.
  • These tires offer improved traction, handling, and stability compared to temporary spare tires.


  • Takes up additional space in the trunk or cargo area.

Full-Size Temporary Spare Tire:

Honestly, I don’t understand the guys who use these spare tires. Sure, they may be cheaper than replacement tires, but is it worth sacrificing safety and convenience for a few dollars? At first glance, the full-size temporary spare tire might seem like a good idea, but it has problems.

You need a full-size space to store this type of spare tire. If you have a smaller car or limited storage space in your vehicle, using one of these tires may not even be an option for you. Even though they are called “temporary,” most people use them for much longer than intended. This means that by the time you finally get around to replacing the temporary tire with a new one, it may already be worn down and not as reliable as it should be.

Pros & Cons:


  • The full-size temporary spare tire does not affect ABS, traction, or handling.
  • Has the same size and shape as a regular tire, making it easier to swap out.
  • Typically less expensive than purchasing a new full-size tire.
  • Offers better handling and stability compared to compact or donut spares.


  • Heavier and more difficult to handle than compact or donut spares.
  • It may require additional tools or equipment to install properly.

Compact Temporary(Donut) Spare Tire:

Compact temporary (donut) spare tires are a great option to have in case of tire breakdowns. These tires are known to fit any vehicle and are smaller and lighter than full-size tires, making them useful for customers wanting to save on space and weight. Their most significant advantage is that they take less time to install, allowing the driver a quicker return trip. Despite their small size, these donut tires provide good handling and decent speed compared to the traditional spare tire.

As a driver who has experienced donut tires firsthand, I can vouch for their usefulness in times of emergency. They proved invaluable when my regular-sized tire blew out on the highway during a long drive back home from vacation.

Pros & Cons:


  • Lightweight and easy to handle.
  • They take up less storage space.
  • Less expensive than full-size spare tires.
  • Provide better handling and control.


  • Limited lifespan and mileage capability.
  • It can only be driven at lower speeds.

Before utilizing a donut spare tire, it is important to consider the following factors.

  • The maximum distance you can drive on these tires is 50 miles.
  • It is not allowed to go faster than 50mph.
  • Do not use these tires for anything other than getting to a tire shop, as they are specifically designed for that purpose.
  • The recommended inflation pressure for these tires is 60 psi due to their smaller dimensions.

Folding Temporary Spare Tire:

Folding temporary spare tires are an excellent alternative to traditional full-sized spares. They are easy to store, take up minimal space in your trunk or cargo area, and can get you back on the road in a pinch. These types of spares come in two types: collapsible and inflatable.

Pros & Cons:


  • Space-saving.
  • Easy to install.
  • Lightweight.
  • Affordable.
  • Adequate for short distances.


  • Limited speed and distance range.
  • Inferior handling capability.

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

Full-size matching spare tires are becoming the preferred option for many drivers because they can extend driving range. Unlike compact spare tires, full-size spares are identical in every way to your running tires – they have the same construction, tread pattern, and compound. This uniformity means you can use them as long as you want without experiencing significant differences in handling or performance.

Full-size, non-matching spare tires have been a popular choice for many drivers as their backup option in case of a flat tire. They are similar to matching spare tires, with the only difference being the pattern on the tires. While they can be used for an extended period, it is not recommended, especially on your steer axle. This is because pattern differences may cause handling issues from time to time.

Full-size temporary spare tires are becoming obsolete in modern cars. These tires are meant to be a backup in case of an emergency tire change on the road. They take up a lot of space and add weight to the car, lowering fuel efficiency. Many car manufacturers have started opting for compact or even no spare tires to save costs and reduce environmental impact.

Final Words:

Driving on a spare tire is not recommended for an extended period. While it can provide a temporary solution for a flat tire, replacing it with a new tire as soon as possible is important. Most spare tires are not designed for long-term use and may not have the same performance capabilities as regular tires. How long can you drive on a spare tire? Driving on a spare tire can affect the handling and stability of your vehicle, making it more difficult to control in emergencies. Don’t risk your safety or the health of your car by driving on a spare for too long. Replace it with a new tire at your earliest convenience.


What is the lifespan of a spare tire?

The lifespan of a spare tire depends on its use and care. Generally speaking, a spare tire can last three to five years, although this could be longer or shorter depending on the vehicle and its environment. It is important to note that a spare tire should not be used for long-distance driving

What is the maximum driving time on a spare tire?

For a full-size spare tire, you should generally not drive more than 50 miles or 80 kilometers before replacing it with a regular tire. This is because a full-size spare may not be able to handle the speed and load of your vehicle for extended periods. If you are driving on rough terrain, reducing your speed and limiting your total driving time even further is important.