Driving on a Spare Tire: How Long Can You Go?

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First published: 04/16/2023 - Updated on: 04/29/2024

A spare tire, commonly known as a “donut,” is a temporary solution designed to help drivers in case of a flat or damaged tire. However, driving on a spare tire for extended periods can lead to several risks and potential damage to your vehicle. In this article, we will explore how long you can drive on a spare tire, the risks associated with doing so, and tips to follow when using a spare.

Distance Limitations:

Spare tires are not designed for long-term use or high-speed driving. Most manufacturers recommend limiting your driving distance to 50-70 miles (80-110 kilometers) on a spare tire. This range is generally considered safe, allowing you to reach a nearby mechanic or tire shop to replace the damaged tire. Exceeding this distance can cause further damage to your vehicle or result in a tire blowout.

Speed Limitations:

Aside from distance limitations, driving on a spare tire also imposes speed restrictions. Most spare tires have a maximum speed limit of 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour). Driving faster than the recommended speed can generate excessive heat, causing the spare tire to wear out quickly or suffer a sudden failure. Staying within the recommended speed limit ensures that you can safely reach your destination without causing additional damage to your car or the spare tire.

Differences Between Spare Tires and Regular Tires:

Spare tires are typically smaller and lighter than regular tires, resulting in different handling and performance characteristics. For example, the reduced size of a spare tire can affect your vehicle’s stability and braking capabilities. Additionally, spare tires are not designed to handle heavy loads or support the same traction levels as regular tires. This can lead to increased risk when driving in wet or slippery conditions. To minimize the potential risks, it’s essential to drive cautiously and avoid sharp turns, sudden braking, or aggressive acceleration.

Read also: All About TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)

Tips for Using a Spare Tire:

  1. Check the spare tire’s pressure: Before installing the spare tire, ensure it is properly inflated. An underinflated spare tire can compromise your vehicle’s handling and increase the likelihood of a tire failure.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the spare tire’s limitations: Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine the recommended speed and distance limits for the spare tire.
  3. Drive cautiously: As mentioned earlier, spare tires can affect your vehicle’s handling and performance. Drive defensively, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, and avoid abrupt maneuvers.
  4. Get the damaged tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible: To ensure your safety and prevent further damage to your vehicle, it’s essential to have the damaged tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible.


Driving on a spare tire is a temporary solution meant to help you reach a nearby tire shop or mechanic for a proper replacement. To minimize the risks associated with using a spare tire, it is crucial to adhere to the recommended speed and distance limitations, drive cautiously, and replace the damaged tire as soon as possible. By following these guidelines, you can safely navigate a tire emergency and protect your vehicle from further damage.

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