Reader Question: Driving on Spare?

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Heres’ the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Aiden asks: I got a flat tire last week and since then I have been driving on the spare. It’s not a mini spare like some cars have but an actual full-sized wheel/tire. I’m pretty broke right now so the idea of spending money a new tire (the one that went flat isn’t fixable) is something I’d like to avoid.

Is it bad to drive on the spare?

My reply: It depends.

First, of course, you no longer have a spare. If you have another flat, you’ll be out of luck. A tow might end up costing you more than replacing the tire that went flat.

But there’s another thing to consider – the wear on the spare vs. the wear on the other three tires. If the spare is a new tire or nearly so with a full head of tread – and the other tires on the car only have half (or less) their tread, there will be a slight but not insignificant imbalance. It is generally smart policy to replace tires on a given axle (front or rear) in pairs for this reason.

The exception to this rule is if the tires on a given axle aren’t worn much; in that case, if one is damaged and needs to be replaced, it’s ok to leave the other in place.

So, what you end up doing depends on those factors.

. . .

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