Get the Skinny on Flat Tires and “Donuts”
3 Things to Know Before You Grab Your Spare Tire
Let’s face it, we’ve been there at one point or know someone personally who have found themselves in the same predicament—sitting on the side of the road with a blown, flat tire. Like many ironic life happenings, the first thing that comes to your mind to fix this problem is typically the solution we often think of the least daily, our spare tire.
It may also be news to find out that you cannot drive on a spare as you would a regular tire. Why, do you ask? It’s quite simple, safety. Preparing for accidents that happen can likely save you time and headache, especially when faced with the aggravation of a flat or blown tire. Use the following information to ready yourself and your vehicle if you should ever need to reach for your spare tire.
Inspect Your Tires
As a rule, check your spare tire every time your regular tires are rotated. You can visually inspect your spare tire for damage and excessive wear. Most spare tires are manufactured to last approximately 7 to 10 years, however, it’s necessary to consult your vehicle owner’s manual for the recommended length of time before a spare should be replaced. With this said, always visually inspect a tire before installing it on your vehicle.
If ever a tire appears to be dry-rotted or have heavy tread damage, replace the spare as a precaution. You wouldn’t want to create another problem trying to fix a problem, right?
Spare Tire Types
Spare tires are not all the same. While some vehicles come equipped with full-size spare tires, others have space-saving compact versions commonly referred to as “donuts.” Spare tires are not designed to be driven at the same speed, nor possess the same maneuverability as regular tires. According to AAA, you should not drive over 50 mph and no more than 50 miles with a donut-type spare tire. Driving for long distances on a spare tire can potentially cause damage to other car parts, including the transmission.
Always be sure to check the location of your spare tire and practice removing it from your vehicle and installing it. Spare tires are typically found in the trunk of most vehicles while truck spares are often stowed under the back of the bed. Preparing for accidents will ultimately save you confusion and money, should your luck result in calling road-side-service.
Don’t Neglect Maintenance
Maintenance is key! One of the most important safety factors, when faced with the need to use a spare tire, is visual inspection and checking tire pressure. This can routinely be done during normal service and vehicle maintenance of your regular tires.
If you find yourself with a flat or blowout tire in the winter or summer, keep inflation in mind. Spare tires are typically smaller than regular tires, meaning less air that’s more prone to temperature fluctuations. Tire pressure will increase as the temperature does so be sure to wait until your tires are cool to add air with an accurate tire inflator.
Most space-saving, compact spare tires hold significantly more air than traditional full-size spares (upwards of 60 PSI). Riding on over or underinflated spare tires, especially compact donuts, could have the potential to lead to further accidents with tire failure. Refer to the information on the sidewall of your spare tire for the maximum speed and required air pressure.
Checking your tire pressure with an accurate dial or digital gauge will furthermore prevent the risk of riding on a potentially dangerous, under or over-inflated tire. Visit ESCO Equipment Supply on the web for a full range of handheld tire inflators at www.esco.net.
Model #10962 – ESCO “Compact” Digital Tire Inflator