If you’ve never had a flat tire, then you’ve likely never learned how to change one. For you those like you, there are particular facts about spare tires that few people know. Knowing these facts can help you avoid trouble if you ever find yourself in a jam.
Not Every Car has a Spare Tire
What? Of course they do! How else can you get your car moving again if you get a flat? In fact, certain vehicles use tires that don’t deflate in a conventional sense. These tires feature a design that enables them to retain their firmness even after they suffer damage. Also, some cars just don’t have room for a spare tire. If you never thought to ask when you purchased your vehicle, you should open your trunk and check!
Most Spares are slightly smaller than your Normal Tire
Many automobile manufacturers install spare tires with a slightly smaller circumference than a standard wheel and tire. The smaller tire is easier to remove from its storage area and change. It also takes up less space in the vehicle and adds less weight, which results in improved mileage. Small spare tires are relatively standard, and thus one needs to keep in mind their limitations. However, even a full-sized spare can affect your car’s performance. In either case, it’s a good idea to know what your manufacturer has to say about your car’s spare.
A Range of Fifty Miles
The fewer the miles you travel on your spare, the better. This is especially true of spares with a smaller circumference than your standard tires. A smaller tire must rotate at a different rate than others to cover the same ground. This difference can increase wear on your car’s differential, and affect handling. Also, the side with the smaller tire sits lower to the ground, thus throwing your drivetrain off balance. A simple rule: Get your car to a garage and get your fourth tire fixed as soon as possible.
50 Miles per Hour is your Limit
The problems created by riding on a smaller tire become exaggerated at higher speeds. Modern cars depend on precisely engineered parts functioning in a synergistic balance to perform well at high speeds. They’re not designed to accommodate one tire being smaller than the others. Even if your spare has the same circumference, a slight difference in weight or functionality can also throw things off. Keeping your speed down reduces stress on your drivetrain, helps you avoid costly repairs, and extends your car’s longevity.
Spare Tires can disable Essential Systems and affect Handling
When you put on your spare, your computer does not always adapt to the change in the size of your tire. The disruption of normal function can cause your computer to disable ABS and traction controls. This can affect your car’s performance in any situation where your car would normally call upon those systems. Also, you may notice that your car just doesn’t handle the same as when you have four regular tires. Under normal conditions, this may not be an issue. However, in a stressful situation, you may not be able to predict how variations in performance can affect your driving.
Spares need to have their Air Pressure checked
This is common sense, but it can be easy to overlook. A simple rule is: Ask your mechanic to check the pressure in your spare during service visits. Service vendors often check tire pressure during oil changes, so ask them to check the pressure of your spare. You should also ask the tire specialists to check the pressure of your spare whenever you visit their garage. A compact spare often requires a pressure of 60 psi, but always follow your manufacturer’s recommendation.
Spares get old and require replacement
Even if you never use your spare, it can become useless with age. A general rule is six years, but you should follow your manufacturer’s recommendation. Also, if you have used your spare a few times, ask your tire serviceman whether you need a new one.
Spares can be Defective
As with any part, you should keep an eye open for any factory recall information regarding your spare. You might be tempted to ignore such a warning, given that it won’t affect you unless you need it. However, as the saying goes, “better safe than sorry.”