Should You Buy a Spare Tire?
Citing fuel efficiency as a reason, most car manufacturers are now ditching the heavy spare tires on new models. Instead of spare tires, some new cars now have run-flat tires or inflator kits that enable motorists to travel a few miles on a punctured tire.
While you can do without a spare tire if you live in an urban area where a tow truck or emergency roadside assistance is just a call away, you may still want to consider having a spare ready for use in your trunk.
Reasons Why You Should Buy a Spare Tire
1. Run-flat tires can run only up to 50 miles on a puncture
Run-flat tires are designed to withstand road hazards and can travel 10 to 50 miles after a puncture. However, it won’t be safe to drive with one further than that. Also, running flat even for a short distance will damage the tire, so it will have to be replaced with a new one.
2. Self-sealing tires don’t always self-seal
Self-sealing tires have a special sealant along the lining. When the tire gets pierced, the sealant covers the hole to prevent more air from leaking out. But the sealant doesn’t always work if the puncture exceeds a quarter of an inch. It also won’t work for tires with shoulder damage, such as slits and holes. So you can potentially find yourself with a dead flat and fully unable to drive without a spare tire.
3. Inflator kits can damage sensors
Some new models come with inflator kits instead of spare tires. These work by spraying a sealant through the tire’s valve. They seal the puncture and inflate the tire just enough for you to drive to the nearest repair shop. However, like sealants in self-sealing tires, these kits are effective only on small punctures and aren’t recommended for tires with sidewall or shoulder damage. They can also damage the sensors of tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) if the kit you use isn’t compatible with your tires.
4. Help won’t always be available in remote areas
Flat tires don’t make appointments. You never know when they’ll happen and what would cause them. If you live in a remote area or go on road trips frequently, a spare tire is absolutely necessary. This can save you from towing fees and waiting long hours for help to arrive. Without a spare tire, you might find yourself stranded in an unfamiliar place.
How to Choose a Spare Tire
There are several types of spare tires you can choose from. The best spare for your vehicle depends on where you usually drive and other conditions.
1. Full-size matching spare
As its name suggests, this type of spare is identical to the tires currently on your vehicle. It’s not just a temporary spare but can be included in the tire rotation along with the rest of your tires. However, this takes up a lot of space and serves as additional weight. Moreover, you’d have to purchase five tires when it’s time to buy replacement tires. Still, this is the best and most reliable spare you can have.
2. Full-size temporary spare
A temporary full-size spare is similar to your vehicle’s tires in terms of dimensions but has different tread depth and build. It’s easy to install because it’s more lightweight. Although it’s full-sized, it’s not as durable as your original tires and must be replaced once you get to the repair shop.
3. Compact temporary spare
Also called a donut spare, this small tire won’t take up a lot of space in your trunk. It lets you drive to the nearest repair shop to have your flat tire repaired or replaced. But since it has a shallow tread depth, it can only be used for a few miles. Using it for longer distances can affect traction control, all-wheel drive, and other features.
4. Folding temporary spare
For those who use compact cars and live near urban areas, a folding or collapsible spare tire may suffice. It takes very little space in the trunk and can be inflated with a small air pump. This will be enough to drive a couple of miles to your trusted repair shop.
How to Take Care of Your Spare Tire
Your spare tire also requires regular inspections just like your original tires. Make it a habit to include it in your monthly tire checks, and ensure it’s properly inflated. When in use, watch your speed. You shouldn’t drive more than 50 mph on a spare tire. You also shouldn’t drive further than 50 miles, as this could damage other parts of your vehicle.
Get Reliable Spares from Reliable Sources
Make sure your spare meets OEM factory specifications. Your spare tire must be reliable during emergencies, so get it only from a reliable source like OEM Wheels Direct. Wheels Direct has the widest selection of high-quality factory automobile wheels. Choose the one for your car model, and have it delivered to you or your installer.