How Long Do Spare Tires Last? (Miles/Km, Driving For Too Long, Speed Limit + More)

Many people end up stranded in the middle of a road, far away from the nearest mechanic, thanks to tires that all of a sudden decide to go flat.

So if you carry a spare tire in your vehicle to avoid such mishaps, you may be wondering – how long do spare tires last? Here is everything I have found through my research!

How Long Do Spare Tires Last?

Spare tires last approximately eight years, even if they are not used, due to the gradual degradation of the rubber. Customers should not drive vehicles on a space-saver (donut) or a full-size spare tire for longer than 50 miles and should keep the speed below 50 mph.

To find out more about how fast can you drive a spare tire, if spare tires go flat, and much more, keep on reading!

How Long Can You Drive On A Spare Tire?

Spare tires are not manufactured to be driven over long distances. In fact, they have almost no tread, which makes them highly vulnerable to breakdown if overused.

As a general rule, you should not drive your car with a spare tire for more than 50 miles (80 kilometers).

In most cases, this is enough for you to reach a mechanic to get your original tire fixed and reinstalled in your vehicle.

However, keep in mind that this also depends on the kind of spare tire you are using.

If you have space-saver tires (also known as donut tires), you should avoid driving with these on your car for more than 50 miles (80 kilometers), as described earlier.

This is because space-saver tires are of a smaller size than the regular tires of your car and have very little tread, making them quite weak and only suitable for emergency use.

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On the other hand, if you are using full-size spare tires, you can safely drive these for up to 100 miles (160 kilometers).

Note that some modern tires are equipped with “run-flat” technology which allows them to support the weight of the vehicle even after they have been punctured.

If you are using run-flat tires on your vehicle and one of them goes flat, you can continue to drive safely for a maximum of 50 miles (80 kilometers).

How Fast Can You Drive On A Spare Tire?

How Fast Can You Drive On A Spare Tire?

You should not drive faster than 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour) if you are using a spare tire on your vehicle.

This is because tires experience a higher level of wear and stress at greater speeds, which spare tires are simply not designed to withstand.

So if you go above this speed limit, there will be a very high risk of the tire breaking down and leaving you stranded even before you can reach the nearest mechanic.

Note that this guideline applies to all kinds of spare tires, i.e. space-saver (donut) tires, full-size tires, and run-flat tires.

What Happens If You Drive On A Spare Tire For Too Long?

Because spare tires have a different design, tread, and size (in the case of donut tires) from your regular tires, it is not safe to drive for too long on them.

To balance out the uneven traction due to the spare tire, your car’s transmission, steering, and braking system have to constantly put in extra effort.

Because of this, if you continue to drive on a spare tire, you could end up damaging your car’s transmission system and decrease the effectiveness of the brakes.

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Your engine may also get overheated due to the resistance offered by the spare tire.

Other than that, the longer you drive on a spare tire, the more you put yourself at risk of getting into an accident because of the low traction and handling of spare tires.

Can You Reuse A Spare Tire?

Can You Reuse A Spare Tire?

You can reuse a spare tire, as long as the tire is properly inflated and the tread has not completely worn out.

However, keep in mind that every time you reuse a spare tire, you should aim to drive as little as possible since the tires become weak over time.

To continue reusing your spare tires, you should always aim to drive to the nearest mechanic immediately once you install a spare tire.

Can You Use A Spare Tire As The Front Tire?

Generally, you should avoid using a spare tire in the front of your vehicle for several reasons.

Most vehicles weigh a lot more towards the front because of the weight of the engine and other parts.

This means that spare tires installed in the front have to bear a lot more pressure and so are at a higher risk of breaking down.

Additionally, the tires in the front have to face a major proportion of friction when you apply the brakes.

So if your spare tire is installed in the front and you hit the brakes, it may end up buckling under all that pressure (which it was not designed to withstand).

Because of this, you should only attach the spare tire to the front if you have run out of options and the destination is just a few blocks away.

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In this case, you should make sure to drive carefully and avoid overspeeding.

Is A 20-Year-Old Spare Tire Safe?

Is A 20-Year-Old Spare Tire Safe?

Tire manufacturers recommend that customers should not use a tire that is more than 10 years old, even if it has not been used frequently.

The tire’s rubber begins to crack and weaken over time, so although your 20-year-old spare tire may not have been used, it may still no longer be capable of supporting your vehicle.

However, several customers have reported on online forums that they were able to safely use a 20-year old spare tire for a very short distance while keeping the speed below 50 mph.

To know more about tires, you can also see our posts on whether or not new cars come with spare tires, if tires come with rims, and how long do tires last in storage.


Spare tires last for eight years on average, after which they should be replaced, even if they were not used frequently.

Note that they are not designed to cover long distances, so if you are using a spare tire, you should not drive on it for longer than 50 miles.

Similarly, you should keep your speed below 50 miles per hour to prevent the spare tire from breaking down due to excessive loads.

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