How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

How Long Can You Drive on Spare Tire

All of a sudden, you get a flat tire, and to avoid being stranded, you have to replace the punctured tire with a spare. But how long can you drive on a spare tire? How long can you drive on a spare tire?

Spare tires are not designed to be as strong as pre-installed tires or new replacement tires. So, there's no way you should assume that you can drive spare tires forever.

In fact, the longest distance that you can drive on a spare tire is 70 miles while maintaining a speed limit of 50 miles per hour. Spare tires are usually small and less durable.  Their lightweight form makes it easy for them to wear and top.

Read on to find out all you need about how long you can drive on spare tires.

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

As a backup or auxiliary element, car manufacturers offer spare tires to drivers to allow for immediate replacement when their regular tire is damaged accidentally.

Irrespective of how durable the spare tires are, they are not designed for long-term use. Spare tires are usually smaller and thinner than your regular tires. They will spin faster than your regular tires, exposing them to wear and tear.

You're only meant to drive them for a few miles, pending when you're able to get a full-sized tire replacement.

As a matter of fact, the standard use of a spare tire is that you should not drive them for more than 70 miles while ensuring that you maintain a speed between 50 - 70 mph. This will protect the tires from quick wear and tear pending until you can change them.

What Happens if You Drive on a Spare Too Long?

There are a lot of dangers that could arise by just deciding to drive on a spare tire for too long. The extent of damage mostly done on/from the tires depends on how fast and far you're driving them.

1. Wear and Tear

Spare tires are not made of the same strong and durable rubber materials as regular tires, so there's no way that they will last as long as regular tires do. The impact of friction is greater on spare tires than on regular tires.

You should expect rubber degradation when you drive them for too long, or in extreme cases, the sidewall will be ruptured, or you'll experience tread separation even while you're driving. This would not be a pleasant experience, especially if you're driving at high speed. Rubber cracks in spare tires, bulges and blisters on the sidewall, wear and tear, and damages on the spare tire can lead to accidents.

2. Damage to Your Car Parts

One of the numerous dangers of driving for too long on a spare tire is that you stand a greater risk of damaging your car parts. When the spare tires are damaged due to wear and tear, the damage extends to your brakes, transmission, wheels and rims, and even your car's suspension.

The more these tires are worn, the more your wheels have direct contact with the road. For suspension problems, worn spare tires will cause your car to drive rough, and this will affect your suspension. As the worn tires are leaking air, you'll find it hard to maintain brake efficiency.

The problems are just so numerous that it's advisable that you avoid them by not attempting to drive on your spare tires for too long.

3. Impact Your Driving Control and Overall Car Performance

The entirety of your driving performance is affected when you drive your spare tires for far too long. As we've already established, extended usage of your spare tires will cause wear and tear, damaging your suspension, brakes, and other important components of your car that contribute to efficient driving.

When your suspensions are worn or the tire threads are too low, there are chances that your car will drive rough, with the ease of hydroplaning increasing. This includes the inability of your vehicle to respond to braking easily, poor control, and even shaky rides.

Driving a spare tire for too long will reduce traction.

The dangers of driving on a spare tire increase depending on the position of the tire. It's disastrous to have them positioned on your front wheels and yet keep driving them forever.

4. Uneven Tire Pressure

Due to the near-fragile state of spare tires, there'll always be uneven tire pressure on your tires when they start to wear. This might lead to your car pulling towards one side.

Uneven tire pressure isn't always caused by inflation but can also happen when your tire wears unevenly, and this can happen with spare tires.

5. Speed Limitations

When you drive your spare tires for too long, they will wear/shrink, and this will affect your speed. If the tires have shrunk, your spare tires will run slower than the speedometer reads. Tire wear affects your tire's entire geometry and how fast it goes.

There's no way your tire will run fast when there's a reduction in the diameter and circumference. This can also reflect errors in your speedometer readings. With a worn spare tire, your speedometers will read faster than the car is actually driving.

Types of Spare Tires and How Far You Can Drive Them

Here's a list of the different types of spare tires and how far you can drive them.

Run Flat Spare Tire

Run-flat spare tires are referred to as the tough version of spare tires. They are tougher and stronger, but they are not also designed to last forever. You'd likely find run-flat tires in some of your luxury vehicles, especially BMWs.

The benefit of run-flat tires is that, due to their design, you can keep driving them for up to 50 miles, even after a puncture. This should give you enough time to clear your car or get a mechanic for replacement.

However, the disadvantage is that these tires aren't cheap to replace.

Full-Size Spare Tire

Full-size spare tires are the best versions of spare tires. They are usually provided for heavy-duty vehicles, trucks, and SUVs. Although they occupy more space and have more weight, they provide almost as good durability and performance as your regular tires.

The problem is that you must maintain them properly and ensure you don't drive them longer than necessary.

Irrespective of the fact that full-size spare tires have better quality than donuts and run-flat tires, it's important that you know that you shouldn't drive them forever. Replace them as soon as you can.

Space-Saver/Donut Spare Tire

Space savers or donut tires are temporary spares usually reserved for compact and midsize cars. They accumulate less space, usually smaller, but are not built to last.

Donut tires are good enough to take you to a repair shop after your normal tire is punctured. It's important that you don't drive farther than 70 miles with a donut or rev faster than 50mph.

Can You Drive 200 Miles on a Spare Tire?

No, you cannot drive 200 miles on a spare tire. Many young drivers always boast about exceeding the 70-mile limit and 50mph on a spare tire.

It sounds fun to break limits and push boundaries, but it's not a risk that is worth taking. Try to avoid pushing your tires to drive up to 200 miles.

Why Are Spare Tires Not as Good as Regular Tires?

Aside from the lesser quality of spare tires, there are a few major reasons why they are not as good as regular tires.

  • Shallow tread depth
  • Smaller size and weight
  • Made of lightweight material
  • Less Traction


Spare tires are not designed to be driven for long. You must make plans to replace them as soon as possible. There are a few factors that permit you to drive a spare tire for as long as you want.

There are chances that when you went tire shopping, you had excess cash, that you decided to buy an extra new tire in case the need arises. In this case, you can drive as long as you want because a regular tire is used as a spare. Besides, we won't advise you to drive a spare tire for too long.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Mercedes not have a spare tire?

If you've noticed, most Mercedes cars don't have a spare tire. But why is this so? Mercedes rarely provide spare tires because they integrate a run-flat technology for their regular tires. This technology reinforces the sidewall of your Mercedes tires, making them drive farther even after they are punctured.

Can you drive on the highway with a spare tire?

Yes. You can drive on a highway with a spare tire as long as you drive slowly and ensure you do not exceed the speed limit.

Driving on a highway with a spare tire mandates that you keep driving 50 mph and ensure the distance isn't longer than 70 miles. If the highway is too long, find a place to park, then replace your spares with regular tires.