How fast can you actually drive on a spare tire? How safe is it to go above 50?

How fast can you actually drive on a spare tire? How safe is it to go above 50?

How Fast Can I Drive on a Donut Tire?

Donut spare tires are for temporary use cases and not meant to be used at high speeds or for regular travel. When you are changing the tire, look at the tire wall, the maximum rated speed indication should be included among its specifications.

If you cannot locate the maximum rated speed on the tire itself, refer to the vehicle owner’s manual. If still unable to determine the maximum speed, be aware that the majority of donuts are rated for a maximum speed of 50 mph.

Exceeding the maximum rated speed for a donut spare tire will result in vehicle instability and potential severe differential damage. Not to mention the immense risk to your safety and those sharing the road with you. When using a spare tire, drive slower and more cautiously.

NOTE: If the spare has not recently been checked, it will – more than likely – be underinflated. Once the tire is on the vehicle, as a general reference, inflate it to 60 psi (pounds per square inch), or psi specified in your owners manual.

NOTE: Highway, freeway, or expressway travel is highly discouraged while using a donut or spare tire. Handling, cornering, and braking are all adversely affected while the spare is in use, so your vehicles handling performance will vary greatly.

The Safety of a Donut Versus a Full Spare Tire

Operating a car with a donut is not my driving with a full-size tire. Check the size of your spare, then learn its best to uses and limitations.

I Have a Full Size spare Tire – If your spare tire is the same size as your regular tires and the specifications on the tire wall match, you may drive on that tire as you would on your regular tire.

Get the damaged tire fixed as quickly as possible. In the event of another flat, you Will be driving without the security of a functional spare.

I Have a Donut Spare Tire – If the spare tire is a donut it is advised to drive at speeds up to 50 mph, and a maximum distance of 70 miles. Keep in mind that a space-saver tire is engineered with less plies (layers of steel and polyester) than a regular tire, making it more susceptible to wear and tear on the road.

NOTE: Important operating information can be found on the wall of your spare. “TEMPORARY USE ONLY – DO NOT EXCEED XX MILES PER HOUR” is one of the advisories you will find.

Why it is Important to Get Your Tire Fixed Immediately

While driving on a donut, electronic stability control, ABS braking, traction control systems, and the vehicle’s differential will be adversely affected. It is imperative that you drive with a heightened awareness of your surroundings, slow down, and employ a constant defensive driving strategy.

The whole idea of a donut or space-saver tire is to get you to a service shop to have your tire problem resolved. Riding long term on one of these spare tires will cause mechanical issues and end up being far more expensive than just going to get your damaged tire repaired or replaced.

Miscellaneous Notes about Your Spare Tire

Potential Risk and Damage – The differential allows your left and right tires to spin at different speeds when turning or on a curve. While driving in a straight line on your normal tires, the differential is not in use. When you have a donut in use, the differential is constantly in use and runs the risk of severe and expensive mechanical damage.

Insurance Coverage – Damages to components of your vehicle resulting from the over or misuse of a donut spare tire are not covered by most vehicle insurance policies.

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How fast can I drive on a donut spare tire?

It should say right on the side of the spare tire, or on the wheel itself on a large, prominent sticker. If that’s missing or illegible, the rule of thumb is to not drive faster than 50 mph with a donut spare tire. Going faster could cause tire failure, differential damage, or both. Try to avoid the freeway if possible. And get to a tire repair facility as soon as possible.


What Happens If You Drive Too Fast on a Spare Tire?

If your spare tire fails while on the road, there's a good chance your car will slip out of control and crash. This is why it's important to always have a full set of tires on hand so that there isn't any danger in case something goes wrong.

A spare tire is only intended to be used for a limited time so you must drive slowly on it. Driving too fast may cause the vehicle to blow out, causing damage to your car.

If someone drives too fast on a spare tire, they could cause the vehicle to fail or blow out and cause damage. Driving fast also makes cars more likely to lose control and hit other vehicles or pedestrians on the road.

The risks are even higher with a spare tire than experiencing a blowout on a traditional street tire. Your vehicle is already unbalanced, so a blowout will cause it to lose control much more erratically resulting in a dangerous crash.

When driving on a spare tire, it is best to drive slower than usual based on your vehicle's speedometer reading. Simply keep your speed under 50 MPH to stay safe and avoid any unnecessary risks on the road.


Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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Why do I have a temporary spare instead of a full-size one?

The use of donut spares is the result of limited space inside the vehicle in question or car makers seeking to reduce cost or weight. Typically the donut spare takes up much less space and is cheaper to manufacture than full size tires and wheels, which translates into more profit for the car makers. It also is significantly lighter than a full-size tire and wheel, which helps with fuel economy. Many cars eliminate spare tires of any sort altogether, and instead include a small tire inflator or can of tire goop, in the name of further weight savings and greater efficiency. Outfitting the car with run-flat tires is another frequent choice. These allow your to drive a comparable distance as the temporary spare would allow even with a full loss of air. The catch is they are much pricier to replace.

For the consumer, anything less than a full-size spare is quite a compromise in the event of a puncture.

Donut Spare Tire (Space-Saver)

Donut spares, also known as space-saver spares, ar

Donut spares, also known as space-saver spares, are significantly smaller in size than the standard tires found on a given vehicle. Spares of this type are not designed for extended use. Instead, a donut spare is intended to be used for an extremely limited period of time.

Donut spares are most often found within the trunk of the vehicle to which they belong. Alternatively, space-saver spares can be found beneath the floorboards of many vans.

How Far Can You Drive on a Donut Spare?

Donut spares are in no way comparable to a vehicle’s standard tires. Spares of this nature are designed for the sole purpose of allowing a motorist to relocate to a safe location. Extended travel can result in a blowout or damage to a vehicle’s powertrain.

Most manufacturers rate their donut spares for a maximum travel distance of 50 miles, while some specify an alternative rating of 70 miles. No matter the case, a donut spare should not be driven on for any greater of a distance than absolutely necessary.

How Fast Can You Go on a Donut Spare?

When traveling on a donut spare, it is imperative to reduce your speed of travel. Travel at highway speed should be eliminated whenever possible. Under no circumstance, should speed when traveling on a donut spare exceed 70 MPH. Whenever possible one should travel well below the speed limit.

The reason behind this reduction of speed lies in the construction of a donut spare. Spares of this type are not rigid enough to support extended travel, as would is typical of full-size spares.

Giving Back to Those Who Have Served

Hakem, owner of Elite Roadside Assistance, finds helping stranded AAA members to be a very rewarding experience. That’s why he was honored to help a member who served our country make it to his great granddaughter’s graduation.


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