You Need To Know: How Far Can You Drive On a Spare Tire?

How Far Can You Drive On a Spare Tire – Have you ever found yourself stranded with a flat tire, swapping it out for the spare, and then wondering just how far that spare can safely take you? The frustration and inconvenience of a flat tire are universal experiences for drivers.

But when relying on a spare tire, understanding its limitations is crucial to ensure your safety on the road.

Encountering a flat tire during a drive can be a significant inconvenience, disrupting plans and potentially costing time and money.

how far can you drive on a spare tire

Once you’ve replaced the flat tire with a spare, it’s essential to understand its limitations and safety considerations. So, how long can you drive on a spare tire?

Driving Distance and Speed Limits on Spare Tires

In general, it’s advisable not to exceed 50 miles on a temporary or donut spare tire whenever possible. However, in unavoidable circumstances, extending the drive to a maximum of 70 miles might be acceptable.

But remember, spare tires are not intended as permanent solutions.

They act as temporary fixes to get you to a place where you can replace the flat tire properly.

Furthermore, maintaining a moderate speed is crucial while driving on a temporary or donut spare tire. Avoid exceeding 50 mph, considering their reduced traction and durability compared to standard tires.

The handling of your vehicle might feel more akin to an airplane on a runway than a smooth ride on the highway when utilizing these spares.

Read Also: How Long Can You Drive On A Plugged Tire?

Understanding Types of Spare Tires

The type of spare tire your vehicle carries significantly affects your driving experience in such situations.

Types of Spare Tires

Compact and Midsize Cars

These vehicles typically feature compact temporary spares, commonly known as ‘donut’ tires. These smaller tires fit beneath the trunk’s floor and differ not only in shape and size but also in required tire pressure.

Unlike standard tires that usually need around 35 PSI, donut spares may require approximately 60 PSI.

SUVs, Crossovers, and Trucks

Larger vehicles often come equipped with full-size spare tires. These spares, designed to support heavier loads, might differ in quality from donut spares but still warrant immediate replacement.

They may have narrower wheels than standard tires and could be manufactured by a different brand, posing handling discrepancies.

Regular inspection of full-size spare tires is essential, especially if secured beneath the vehicle and exposed to harsh elements.

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

how long can you drive on a spare tire

The golden rule for driving on a spare tire is to limit your distance as much as possible. Ideally, aim to drive no more than 50 miles on a temporary or donut spare tire.

However, in unavoidable circumstances where you must push further, extending the drive up to 70 miles might be acceptable.

Remember, though, these tires aren’t a permanent solution; their purpose is to act as a stopgap measure until you can replace the flat tire with a proper one.

Read Also: What Happens If You Drive On A Flat Tire?

Best Practices for Driving Safely on Spare Tires

Whether your spare is a donut or a full-size spare, adhering to safety guidelines is crucial:

how far can you drive on a spare tire

  1. Regular Pressure Checks: Spare tires often have unique inflation needs, so ensure regular pressure checks when not in use to maintain their efficacy.
  2. Extended Braking Distance: Expect differences in braking due to ABS variations or inaccuracies in speedometers. Give extra space for braking to avoid sudden surprises.
  3. Caution in Inclement Weather: Spare tires lack advanced treads, making them prone to slipping or hydroplaning. Exercise additional care in adverse weather conditions.
  4. Replacement Schedule: Consult your vehicle’s manual or inspect the spare to determine replacement frequency. Typically, spare tires have a lifespan of about eight years.

Understanding these considerations and best practices can enhance safety while driving on a spare tire, ensuring a smoother experience until you can replace the flat tire with a proper one.

Next time you find yourself relying on a spare tire, keep these guidelines in mind for a safer and more controlled journey on the road.

What happens if you drive on a spare tire too long?

If you drive on a spare tire for an extended period, several issues can arise. Differences in tread and design can decrease your control over the vehicle, reduce stopping power, cause hydroplaning on wet roads, and potentially damage your transmission and other vehicle components.

Can I drive 200 miles on a donut?

It’s generally not advisable to drive 200 miles on a donut spare tire. The recommended distance for a donut-type spare is no more than 50 miles and at a maximum speed of 50 mph.

For a full-size spare tire, you might be able to drive up to 100 miles safely, but it’s crucial to consult your vehicle owner’s manual for the specific recommendations related to your vehicle’s spare tire.

Can you drive far on a spare wheel?

There’s no strict rule regarding the distance you can drive on a spare tire. However, a common guideline is around 50 miles, maintaining a maximum speed of 50 mph. It’s important to note that handling might differ with a skinny spare tire, impacting your driving experience.

What happens if you go over 50 miles an hour on a spare tire?

Exceeding 50 miles per hour speed on a spare tire is not recommended. Driving too fast on a spare tire can pose significant dangers and might result in costly and unnecessary repairs. Some states have laws regulating maximum speeds for vehicles equipped with spare tires for safety reasons.

Is it safe to drive on the freeway with a spare tire?

Driving on the freeway with a donut spare tire isn’t safe due to its limited usage and recommended speed. It’s better to avoid highway driving with a donut spare and opt for local roads, ensuring you maintain speeds under 50 mph and drive in the rightmost lane for safety.


Understanding the limitations and best practices regarding spare tire usage is crucial for any driver facing a flat tire situation. The general consensus suggests driving no more than 50 miles at speeds not exceeding 50 mph on a spare tire, whether it’s a temporary donut spare or a full-size spare.

Exceeding these recommendations can result in reduced control, compromised safety, and potential damage to vehicle components.

Different vehicles come with varied spare tire types—compact temporary spares for smaller cars and full-size spares for larger vehicles.

Full-size spares may allow for slightly longer drives, it’s essential to consult your vehicle manual for specific guidelines regarding your spare tire’s recommended distance and speed limits.

A spare tire is a temporary solution designed to get you to a repair shop for a proper tire replacement. Ignoring these guidelines might lead to handling issues, diminished braking ability, and potential damage to your vehicle, particularly when driving at higher speeds or for extended distances.

Prioritize safety by following manufacturer recommendations and avoid prolonged drives on a spare tire whenever possible. Knowing these limitations ensures a safer journey and prevents unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle.

So, when it comes to the question, “How far can you drive on a spare tire?”—adhering to recommended distances and speeds outlined for your specific spare tire type is crucial for your safety and the well-being of your vehicle.

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