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How Long Does a Spare Tire Last?

Man checking on a spare tire to see how long it can last in storage.

A spare tire can save you from having to call for help if you get a flat. That’s why it’s important to make sure your spare tire is in good condition. Just because your spare is out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind until you need it. How long does a spare tire last? Here’s how to maintain your spare tire.

How long does a spare tire last in storage?

If your car came with a spare tire, it will be typically stored somewhere inside or near your trunk. On sedans and small SUVs, it will be usually under the floor liner of your trunk. On larger vehicles, it may be mounted on the exterior on the back or underneath.

There are two kind of spares: a space-saver, also called a donut, or a full-size spare that’s the same as the wheels you drive on. No matter what kind of spare tire you have, they have something in common: rubber tires. Rubber degrades over time. It’s not recommended to drive on tires older than about six years, even if they have tread left.

To figure out the age of your tire, look for a four digit number on the sidewall. This is the time code. The first two digits indicate the week of the year it was manufactured. The last two digits indicate the year. For example, a tire with the time code 1020 was made on the tenth week of 2020.

It’s a good idea to replace your spare tire when you replace your regular tires. If it’s a full-size spare, incorporate it into your regular tire rotation schedule to keep the wear levels even.

How long can you drive on a spare tire?

A donut should not be driven any longer than it takes for you to get your tire fixed. In general, you should not drive more than 50 miles with a donut.

Donut spares are not the same size as the rest of your tires. They are smaller and have thinner contact patches, which could make your car handle unusually. Driving on a donut for prolonged periods can even damage your transmission and suspension.

Even if you have a full-sized spare, you’ll want to bring your car to a trusted mechanic or tire shop. You should replace or repair the flat tire, and while you’re there have your technician check the tightness of your lug nuts. These need to be tightened to a factory specification, or else they may come loose or damage parts of your car. You won’t know for sure if you replaced the wheel by hand.

Checking the air in the spare

Tire pressure is also important for a spare. Your spare tire should be inflated to specification, and you should check the pressure every year. You can’t fix a flat if your spare tire is also flat!

Fill the donut to the pressure noted on the tire. Typically, this will be higher than a normal tire. If you have a full-size spare, inflate it to the same pressure your normal tires are.

Can you use the spare of another car?

Do not use the spare of another car. You should only use the spare tire that’s designed to go with your car. Wheels can vary greatly between cars, and using a wheel of the wrong size can damage your car.


Run-flat tires can be driven on even after a puncture. They have reinforcements that allow you to drive just enough to get to the tire shop. If punctured, they should not be driven for more than 50 miles or at speeds over 50 miles per hour.

These can give you some piece of mind if your car doesn’t have a spare. Some luxury and sports cars don’t include or have the space for a spare tire. A downside to run-flat tires is price: they’re more expensive to replace and can’t be repaired.

Now that you’ve taken the time to take care of your spare, let us help take care of you. Drive assured with Plymouth Rock and you’ll have top-notch coverage with even better service.

Get a fast, easy quote online, give us a call at 855-993-4470 or find a local agent to see how much you can save on car insurance.