A spare tire is likely something you do not think about until you need it. It is better to have a spare tire and not need it then it is to need a spare and not have it. Just like choosing the tires you run on full time choosing the fifth tire requires some thought. Spares also require a little attention every so often.
Locating Your Spare
Usually, with a passenger car, a covered well in the trunk holds the spare. Emergency tires are normally stored under pick-up trucks and SUVs. Check your owners manual for all you need to know about your spare. If you need to purchase a back-up tire here are your options.
Matching and Non-Matching Full Size Spares
A full-size matching spare is identical to your car’s other four tires. Whether matched or non-matching a full-size spare eats into trunk space. A matched full-sized emergency tire can be kept on the car until the tires are rotated or until the tire wears out.
A non-matching full-size spare is different from its three counterparts. A non-matching full-size spare should be replaced with the correct tire during the next tire rotation or sooner. Only use a full-size spare on pickups and SUVs.
If your car has the factory spare it is almost certainly a donut or as the manufacturers prefer space saver. A compact fifth tire will be smaller then the tire it fills in for. Be mindful of the inflation rating for a donut spare.
The average full-size tire holds 30 lbs-32 lbs psi vs an average 60 lbs psi for a compact spare. Never put more than 70 miles on a donut and do not exceed 50 mph.
Collapsible Compact Spare
The collapsible or folding compact spare requires a minimum of storage space. The convenience of extra trunk space comes at an inconvenience. A folding spare has to be inflated before it can be used. The same limitations (distance traveled and maximum speed) placed on a regular compact emergency tire must be observed with a collapsible compact tire.
Maintain Your Spare Tire
Your spare just lays in the trunk or hangs under your truck. You can just ignore the fifth tire until you need it; right? Even though your spare tire is not subjected to the same wear and tear as the tires it backs-up it is still changing. No pun intended.
To be sure your spare will be good to go if you need it have it inspected during a tire rotation. Like the tires you run on changes in temperature can increase or decrease your spare’s inflation. Check the psi in your emergency tire regularly.
If an inspection reveals damage to your spare tire the smart money is spent on replacing rather then repairing. No matter what condition it is in a back-up tire should be replaced after eight years because time weakens rubber.
Always carry a spare tire. Understand what your emergency tire options are. Know the pluses and minuses of each spare tire type. Maintain your fifth tire as you would the other four.