Seeing a flat tyre on the highway is one of the most dreaded experiences that you can have. It completely disrupts the journey and needs immediate attention. Your entire focus shifts towards how to get back on the journey. A spare tyre becomes your saviour in such situations. It enables you to begin the journey again and safely reach either your destination or the nearest tyre repair shop.
But the real unasked question is, “How long can you drive on a spare tyre?”
Here’s a guide that explores the different types of spare tyres available in the market, their limitations, the optimal speed at which you must drive them, and the distance you can cover using the specific spare tyre. We will also uncover the consequences of driving too long on a spare tyre. Let’s delve deeper and understand this critical aspect of vehicle maintenance.
The different types of spare tyre options available
We must understand the different types of spare tyres available before we understand how to use them and how long we can use them. There are three types of spare tyres available for use as listed below:
- 1. Full-size spare tyres:
- 2. Donut-shaped spare tyre:
- 3. Run-flat tyres:
As the name suggests, full-size spare tyres are an exact replica of your regular tyres. They often resemble each other in terms of size, weight, and even the brand. Full-sized tyres provide better flexibility and durability. This makes them the best choice for a spare tyre and the top recommendation for longer and remote journeys.
A full-sized tyre will seamlessly fit with other tyres and offer consistent performance and reliability. Since it is an exact replica of the other tyres, it will maintain the car’s stability and on-road handling characteristics. This allows you to drive with confidence without the worry of a spare tyre being in use, instead of the original.
You can drive with this tyre for as long as adversity demands, but in about 100 miles, you should get your original tyre repaired and replaced to prevent wear and tear on the spare tyre. You can drive it at regular driving speeds without any worries.
A full-sized tyre is your best partner on a long or remote journey. It will not only prevent you from getting stranded but also enable you to get the tyre repaired or replaced at a safe place.
Donut-shaped spare tyres are designed with one specific purpose, to save on size, space, and cost. Donut-shaped tyres are smaller in size and weight. They are also slimmer in profile than regular tyres, making them ideal for small and compact vehicles. They are easy to store and handle during an adverse situation.
These tyres are not meant to be used as a replacement when a tyre goes flat. Their entire purpose is to provide a temporary solution to the situation at hand. They are meant to advance you to the nearest tyre repair shop. You should always use them to get to the nearest repair shop and not for the entire journey.
Since these tyres are smaller in size and lighter than the original tyres, they are unable to provide a seamless transition. They also come with specific speed and distance limitations. Donut tyres should not be used for more than 70 miles and at a speed of no more than 50mph.
Most luxury cars come fitted with run-flat tyres. They are the unsung heroes and offer unique advantages in the case of a flat tyre. The standout feature of run-flat tyres is their ability to maintain adequate tyre pressure even in case of a puncture. This allows you to drive for a limited time and reach a safe location preventing the need for immediate attention on the roadside.
Run-flat tyres are engineered to provide short-term relief without ever compromising on safety. Even though these tyres provide a quick fix to the problem, they are not as reliable as donut-shaped tyres or full-size tyres. They can take you for about 50 miles at a speed of no more than 50-70 mph within which you must get the tyre fixed. It is important to regularly monitor the tyre pressure. If the tyre pressure is low, assess the situation and risks. Driving on a deflated tyre can be risky and must be avoided.
Overall, a run-flat tyer provides immediate relief but should not be taken as a permanent fix.
Why do spare tyres have speed and distance limitations?
A spare tyre must not be used as a replacement tyre for long distances. Also, the speed limitation on these tyres should be followed. This is because these usage limits are not mere numbers. They are designed to assure the safety of the user and the performance of the vehicle. Understanding these limits and following them will not only ensure your safety but also the health of your vehicle. Here is a breakdown of why there are recommended usage limits:
- 1. Tyre wear and tear
One of the most important reasons for limiting spare tyre use is the wear and tear tyres go through. A donut-shaped tyre is different, in design and shape, from the other three tyres and a run-flat tyre becomes deformed when punctured. This means that the spare is not in sync with the other tyres. It can lead to uneven wear and tear, putting you at risk on the road.
- 2. Tyre bursting
There’s a limitation to the speed at which you can drive a spare tyre. This is because overspeeding will cause these tyres to experience more stress and heat. It can cause the tyre to suddenly burst and you may lose control of the vehicle and face an accident, collision, or even death.
- 3. Risk of another flat tyre
When on a spare tyre, you are required to stay within usage limits because going beyond may put you at risk of another flat tyre. Donut tyres have limited treads and tread depth. Driving at a high speed on a debris-strewn road may cause your spare to go flat and you may find yourself stranded once again with not one but two tyres.
- 4. Damage to other car parts
Driving on a spare tyre can cause severe vibrations and damage to other components of the car. A donut-spare tyre is usually undersized and the strain exerted on this tyre will be transmitted to other vital vehicle components like transmission, suspension, brakes, steering, etc. This can be an extremely costly affair and incur expensive repairs or replacements. You do not want to pay 50 times the cost of a flat tyre repair for repairing other vital components.
Usage limits are not mere suggestions but safety guidelines that ensure your safety and your vehicle’s health.
How to choose the right spare tyre for your vehicle?
Choosing a spare tyre is an important decision. Doing this right will keep you safe when one of your main tyres goes flat on a highway. An informed decision will keep you moving when faced with such a situation. Here is how to decide what spare tyre you should choose:
- 1. Full-size spare tyre
If you can afford a full-sized spare tyre, this is the best option to choose. Since these tyres are similar to other tyres of your vehicles, you can use them without any usage limits that ensure both safety and performance.
- 2. Donut-shaped spare tyre
If you are on a tighter budget or a full-sized spare tyre is unavailable, you can opt for a donut-shaped spare tyre. This tyre is ideal for driving shorter distances and will be your saviour when you have a flat tyre.
- 3. Run-flat tyre
Run-flat tyres are better than donut-shaped tyres since they provide more flexibility and provide immediate relief. They prevent you from the immediate struggle of a flat tyre and allow you to reach a repair shop for repair. Remember, they are not a long-term solution.
Tips to use a spare tyre safely
Here are some things to take care of when you are using a spare tyre. This will prevent any harm to yourself or your vehicle:
- 1. Match the size of the tyres
If the spare tyre is of the same size as the regular tyres, it can be used anywhere, even on the driving wheel. If it is of a different size, always use it on a non-driving wheel.
- 2. Don’t overuse a donut-shaped spare tyre
If, for some reason, you have to use a donut on a driving wheel, make sure you drive it for a very short distance to a repair shop and avoid any unnecessary risk. If the repair shop isn’t nearby, towing your vehicle will be the safest option.
- 3. Regular tyre inspection
It is in your best interest to regularly check your tyre’s condition. If the tyre has been stored for a while, inspecting it thoroughly before using it will prevent unwanted mishaps.
- 4. Follow usage limits
When using a spare tyre, follow the above-mentioned speed and distance limits. Using the instructions in a manual will give you an even better idea since each tyre manufacturer has slightly different recommendations. This will prevent accidents and excessive wear and tear.
The distance you can travel using a spare tyre depends completely on the type of spare tyre you are using. Full-size spare tyres offer more flexibility and ease of use suitable for extended use. Donut-shaped spare tyres are better for short distances, while run-flat tyres provide immediate relief. However, it is crucial to understand that complete safety is only achieved by adhering to the usage limits and other recommendations. Get your car to a repair shop and get your tyre repaired as early as possible.
Swift Tyre Specialist: Your Trusted Partner
We, at Swift Tyre Specialist, understand that car breakdowns can be extremely frustrating and inconvenient for you. We want to assure you that you can trust us when you need us the most. Whether you need a spare tyre, or you are stuck on the roadside with a broken car, just give us a call at +65 8484 3838 and we will be there to aid you with the repair immediately. We will ensure that you are back on the road safely and your car is in proper shape at the earliest possible. It is our mission to ensure your safety and satisfaction.