Engineering and a mixed testing have produced extremely durable tires. In fact, with regular maintenance visits, pressure checks, and routine tire rotations, the inconvenience of a flat tire is becoming less prevalent.
However, when traveling your normal commute or taking a road trip, things can and do unexpectedly happen. Driving over rocky roads, nail ridden debris, or a curb, a flat tire is more likely to occur.
Commonly referred to as a donut or space-saver, your spare tire was engineered to conserve space, so it is smaller and thinner than the rest of your tires. In its inherent design, it is only intended to be used temporarily to get you to a service station.
In this article, the Autobahn team discusses the urgency of getting your tire repaired or replaced, the limitations of your donut spare tire, and damages that prolonged use may cause to your vehicle.
How Fast Can I Drive on a Donut Tire?
Donut spare tires are for temporary use cases and not meant to be used at high speeds or for regular travel. When you are changing the tire, look at the tire wall, the maximum rated speed indication should be included among its specifications.
If you cannot locate the maximum rated speed on the tire itself, refer to the vehicle owner’s manual. If still unable to determine the maximum speed, be aware that the majority of donuts are rated for a maximum speed of 50 mph.
Exceeding the maximum rated speed for a donut spare tire will result in vehicle instability and potential severe differential damage. Not to mention the immense risk to your safety and those sharing the road with you. When using a spare tire, drive slower and more cautiously.
NOTE: If the spare has not recently been checked, it will – more than likely – be underinflated. Once the tire is on the vehicle, as a general reference, inflate it to 60 psi (pounds per square inch), or psi specified in your owners manual.
NOTE: Highway, freeway, or expressway travel is highly discouraged while using a donut or spare tire. Handling, cornering, and braking are all adversely affected while the spare is in use, so your vehicles handling performance will vary greatly.
The Safety of a Donut Versus a Full Spare Tire
Operating a car with a donut is not my driving with a full-size tire. Check the size of your spare, then learn its best to uses and limitations.
I Have a Full Size spare Tire – If your spare tire is the same size as your regular tires and the specifications on the tire wall match, you may drive on that tire as you would on your regular tire.
Get the damaged tire fixed as quickly as possible. In the event of another flat, you Will be driving without the security of a functional spare.
I Have a Donut Spare Tire – If the spare tire is a donut it is advised to drive at speeds up to 50 mph, and a maximum distance of 70 miles. Keep in mind that a space-saver tire is engineered with less plies (layers of steel and polyester) than a regular tire, making it more susceptible to wear and tear on the road.
NOTE: Important operating information can be found on the wall of your spare. “TEMPORARY USE ONLY – DO NOT EXCEED XX MILES PER HOUR” is one of the advisories you will find.
Why it is Important to Get Your Tire Fixed Immediately
While driving on a donut, electronic stability control, ABS braking, traction control systems, and the vehicle’s differential will be adversely affected. It is imperative that you drive with a heightened awareness of your surroundings, slow down, and employ a constant defensive driving strategy.
The whole idea of a donut or space-saver tire is to get you to a service shop to have your tire problem resolved. Riding long term on one of these spare tires will cause mechanical issues and end up being far more expensive than just going to get your damaged tire repaired or replaced.
Miscellaneous Notes about Your Spare Tire
Potential Risk and Damage – The differential allows your left and right tires to spin at different speeds when turning or on a curve. While driving in a straight line on your normal tires, the differential is not in use. When you have a donut in use, the differential is constantly in use and runs the risk of severe and expensive mechanical damage.
Insurance Coverage – Damages to components of your vehicle resulting from the over or misuse of a donut spare tire are not covered by most vehicle insurance policies.