We’ve all been there—you’re cruising along and suddenly get a flat tire. It’s a real pain, but that’s why you’ve got a spare in your trunk. But before you drive happily off into the sunset, do you know how long you can drive on a spare tire safely? As the tire experts here at GoTire, we’re here to help you understand the limitations of different types of spare tires and explain how long you can safely use them.

Use the spare tire to get you to the nearest shop

How long can a spare tire last?

So you’ve changed your flat out for your spare, but before you relax and continue driving, you should plan when you’re going to get your tire replaced. Basically, we advise you to get to a tire repair shop as soon as possible. For smaller-sized spares or donuts, which many of us have, you shouldn’t be driving further than 50 miles before you switch it out.

Now let’s delve into that a bit deeper to understand how far can you drive on spare tires of all types.

Types of spare tires

Did you know that there are three possibilities for the type of spare tire? They are:

  • Temporary/Compact/Donut spare tires
  • Normal-size spare tires
  • Full-size spare wheel

Each type has its own characteristics and limitations, which we’ll examine in more detail.

Keeping a spare in your trunk is a must

Temporary/Compact/Donut spare tire

You should be easily able to tell if you have a temporary, compact, or donut spare tire as it’s smaller, narrower, and lighter than your regular tires—in fact, it almost looks like a motorcycle tire. It’s designed for short-term use to help you reach a nearby tire repair shop.

A donut or temporary spare tire has a limited lifespan—they’re typically rated for around 50-70 miles and shouldn’t be driven at speeds above 50 mph. This is because they’re not as durable as regular tires and can wear out quickly.

If you have a car with AWD, be especially careful using a temporary spare tire, as using one for too long may damage your transmission. Watch out for your AWD failure light, and if it starts to flash, get your tire replaced immediately.

You should also be cautious when driving with donut tires, as they can affect your car’s handling and braking. Avoid taking sharp turns or braking too hard, and get your flat repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

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Full-size spare tires

A normal-size spare tire is just like your regular tires – it’s the same size and type and has the same rim. This means you can drive on it just like you would with your regular tires. However, it’s still important to get the punctured tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible, as your spare will likely have a different tread than your other tires, which can affect handling.

We always recommend getting your punctured full-size spares fixed or replaced as soon as possible so you have a spare in case of another puncture.

It’s also a good idea to check the tire pressure of your spare regularly and keep it properly inflated. This will ensure it’s ready to use when you need it.

Make sure you maintain your spare as you do the other four tires, so it can safely get you to the shop!

Full-size spare wheel

You might also find you have a full-sized spare tire with a different rim type than your other tires. If you have one of these tires, we recommend you check your vehicle manual for driving recommendations for the rim. It’s likely to allow you to drive longer distances and at higher speeds than a donut tire but not as long as a regular tire on your standard rim.

Run-flat tires

Thanks to the special insert in a sidewall, the run-flat tire won’t go flat right after the puncture

Some more modern cars come with run-flat tires designed to allow you to continue driving for a limited distance after a puncture. This should be enough for you to get to a repair show and get your tire fixed.

You can usually drive on run-flat tires for up to 50 miles, but it’s a good idea to check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your vehicle.

When to replace a spare tire?

No tire lasts forever, including spare tires. Look for signs of wear and damage, such as cracks, bulges, or punctures. It’s also a good idea to replace your spare tire every 6-10 years, even if it hasn’t been used, as rubber degrades over time.

Regular tire maintenance and inspection can help you avoid unexpected surprises on the road. Check your spare tire’s condition and tire pressure regularly, and replace it if necessary. When using a spare tire, always drive cautiously and be aware of how it may affect your vehicle’s handling.

If you need to replace your spare tire, visit GoTire for the best prices on high-quality, name-brand tires. You’ll even get them delivered to your door for free with FedEx.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drive on a spare tire for 2 days?

No, you shouldn’t drive on a spare tire for 2 days. With donut tires, if you are only driving very short distances and at slow speeds, you may possibly get away with waiting two days to replace your tire, but ideally, you should get it fixed as soon as possible. Fortunately, if you have a normal or full-size spare, you can drive on it for 2 days or even longer.

Can you drive 200 miles on a spare tire?

No, if you have a donut or compact spare, you can’t drive 200 miles on a spare tire. However, if you have a full-size spare tire, the answer to the question ‘How long can you drive on a full-size spare tire?’ is much further. In fact, it’s likely to be the same distance as any regular tire. But the answer to the question ‘Can I drive 200 miles on a donut’ is a definite no.

How fast can you drive on a donut tire?

You should only drive a maximum of 50 mph on a donut tire. They are designed to be light and compact, as space saver spare tires in your car. They are not designed to be driven long distances or at high speeds.

Can you drive on a flat tire?

No, you can’t drive on a flat or punctured tire. Driving on a flat tire will likely damage both your tire and rim, so they must be replaced. If you get a puncture, you should always put your spare tire on immediately and take your normal tire to be repaired as soon as possible.