When you think about the many components on your car that require regular attention, you might forget about those unsung heroes of the road, your tires. When a tire suddenly fails, however, you’ll understand the value of keeping a fully-functional, well-maintained spare tire under the suspension or in the trunk.
Even though you only rely on your spare tire to bail you out of rare emergencies such as blowouts, you still need to give this largely hidden rescue device the consideration it deserves if you want it to perform for you as it should when you need it. Consider adopting the following four smart spare tire practices.
1. Purchase the Right Tire and Tools
Spare tires come in a few different forms. Ideally, you’ll want to purchase a full-sized tire identical in make and model to the other tires on your car. The simplest way to ensure that you always have a perfectly matching tire involves buying your tires five at a time as a matter of routine.
If you need a more budget-friendly solution to your spare tire needs, you can safely use a non-matching spare tire that offers the same dimensions and vehicle compatibility as your usual tire of choice. If you can’t clear enough space for a full-sized spare, you may have to purchase a temporary spare called a donut instead.
Don’t forget to include the tools you’ll need to make use of your spare tire when disaster strikes. In addition to the spare tire itself, you should keep a jack, a lug wrench, a pair of work gloves, and a set of reflective warning triangles or road flares handy.
2. Drive on a Donut with Caution
Donuts can prove easier to store, carry, and change than full-sized spare tires, but they can’t serve as a long-term tire replacement. Manufacturers design donuts to withstand only about 100 miles of wear. If you exceed speeds of 50 miles per hour, you may even cut your donut’s already limited lifespan in half.
Treat your donut as a stopgap measure that requires special care and caution. Avoid driving with a donut on the highway or other roads that might force you to drive faster than 50 miles per hour. Take your car to an auto shop as soon as you can so technicians can replace it with a safer, longer-lasting, full-sized tire.
3. Maintain Your Spare Tire Properly
Even a spare tire that might never see active use requires periodic maintenance, if only to ensure that it will provide the service you need when you need it. Get into the habit of checking your spare tire’s air pressure whenever you check the air pressure in your four active tires, adding air as needed to keep the tire ready for action.
A spare tire can sustain damage to its tread, sidewalls, or other structures when in use, just as other tires can. If you’ve driven on your spare tire for a significant distance, get it checked for any signs of nicks, punctures, and other potential problems. If your technician warns you of low tread, replace the spare tire.
4. Don’t Rotate Your Tires with a Non-Matching Spare Tire
If your spare tire matches your other tires more or less perfectly, you can simply leave it on your car as part of the vehicle’s normal tire rotation routine. Just remember to purchase the appropriate replacement and keep it in or on the car at all times. However, you shouldn’t follow this practice with a non-matching tire.
A non-matching tire might contribute to uneven wear on all four tires due to small but significant differences in tread, structural strength, traction, and handling on wet or slick roads. Over time, this unevenness might lead to frequent tire replacement while contributing to transmission, suspension, or ABS damage.
Evans Tire & Service Centers can help you choose the right spare tire for your car, advise you on how to keep it in optimal condition, and provide replacements for any of your tires as needed. Contact us today.