For the most part, I think as a society we stay on top of most things. We pay attention to the things we need in life. You know, things like food, clothing, and a place to live. We even pay attention to our vehicle — most of the time. As a driving society we rarely run out of gas, and we tend to send it in to our local garage to have the needed service checks. So far so good, right? When was the last time you checked your spare tire for inflation?

Compact Spare Tire Care

Tips to care for your compact spare tire.

Spare care

Some drivers may check the pressure in each of their four tires, but rarely do they check the air pressure in the spare tire. But why should they? Well, think about this: If you get a flat tire and your spare tire is flat, why would you want to take off a flat tire just to put on another flat tire? You won’t need to check the pressure in the spare tire as often as your other tires, but it should be checked. Typically, the compact spare tire that most vehicles carry should be pumped to the maximum sidewall specifications. This is usually 60 psi, but check the sidewall of your tire to confirm.

Changing a flat

Knowing how to change a flat tire can be a useful tip for any driver. I had taught my oldest son how to do it when he was 14 or so. By the time he got his driver’s licence and had his first flat tire, he had forgotten how to change the tire. Luckily I was around so I should him how to do it again. However, if you don’t want to change the tire yourself, Go Tire is a phone call away.

Tips for driving on a compact tire

Okay, so let’s move onto driving on a compact spare tire. The compact spare tire is not a permanent solution, but a temporary fix.  You should only drive on a compact spare long enough to either get your regular tire repaired or to buy a new tire.  Compact spares generally only last for around 75-100 kms, because the rubber compound on the compact spare is a little softer than your regular tires that it wears down sooner. Additionally, the tread depth is smaller on a compact spare than a regularly sized tire, so it is important to drive according to the directions given on the tire or in your owner’s manual. Remember to drive extra carefully in poor weather.

It’s also recommended to drive more slowly  on the compact spare tire. Higher speeds may cause the tire to heat up to an unsafe level quickly. Driving on the compact spare may also affect your ability to brake. In an emergency braking situation, your anti-lock brake system (ABS) and traction control could also be affected. Keep that in mind when you’re driving on the spare. Drive more slowly and leave additional distance between you and the car in front of you. (See our blog post on safe driving distance.)

Make it a habit to check all five of your tires for proper inflation, uneven wear, and damage. As the old adage reminds us, “Look after your vehicle, and it will look after you.”

 Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada and started in road safety in 1988.  He was a judge during the first 3 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper in 2005.  Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines, and various web-sites. You can visit his own blog at http://safedriving.wordpress.com.

Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada and started in road safety in 1988. He was a judge during the first 3 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper in 2005. Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines, and various web-sites. You can visit his own blog at http://safedriving.wordpress.com.