Are Spare Tires Required by Law? (The Truth Car Owners Must Know)

Alright, here’s the scoop. You’re going to see a lot of words about cars and tires and laws, and your first instinct might be to just tune out. But, hold up! Let’s not rush into that just yet. In my years of driving all sorts of vehicles and dealing with flat tires, I’ve often wondered, are spare tires actually required by law? I mean, we all have so many things to consider when it comes to our cars, isn’t it?

Now, I’ve gone ahead and done a ton of research on this topic because, well, I’m a bit of a car nerd and I love to help folks like you get to the bottom of these kinds of questions. I promise, I’ve got some answers that will help clear up this bit of legal mystery. Let’s navigate through this together, you and me. We’ll cut through the jargon and make things as easy to understand as we can, just like a good old-fashioned road trip. Buckle up, it’s going to be an enlightening ride!

Are Spare Tires Required by Law?

Hey there! You’re probably wondering whether or not you’re legally obliged to carry a spare tire in your car. Well, in my experience, the laws on this issue can vary quite a bit depending on where in the world you are.

Spare tires, as you know, are an additional tire carried in vehicles for emergencies. If you’ve ever experienced a flat tire while on the road, you’d surely appreciate having one. But here’s the thing: while having a spare tire handy is encouraged for practical reasons, there is actually no legal requirement for drivers to have one. Shocking, right? But, let’s dive in a bit deeper.

Spare Tire Regulations in the US

Let’s start with the United States. You might be surprised to learn that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which sets the safety standards for vehicles, does not actually require new vehicles to be equipped with a spare tire. So, if you’re in the US, whether or not you have a spare tire in your car is largely up to you.

Spare Tire Laws in Texas

Taking it down to the state level, let’s consider Texas, for instance. Just like the federal standard, Texas does not mandate drivers to carry a spare tire. However, vehicle safety and road laws encourage drivers to do so. In case of a flat tire, having a spare could be the difference between getting to your destination in time and being stranded on the side of the road.

Spare Tire Laws in Illinois

Moving on to Illinois, again, there is no legal requirement for drivers to have a spare tire in their cars. However, from what I’ve seen, it’s always better to have one. Trust me, the one time you have a flat and haven’t got a spare will be the time you really wish you did!

Spare Tire Laws in Georgia

In Georgia, it’s the same story. No mandatory requirements, but lots of recommendations for having a spare. Besides, some types of tires, like the donut tires, are designed to save space in smaller vehicles, so they’re really not that much of a hassle to carry around.

Spare Tire Laws in California

Now, let’s hop over to sunny California. You guessed it – there’s still no specific law that requires drivers to carry a spare tire. But as I always say, just because something isn’t required doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.

Legal Requirements for Spare Tires in Other States

Across the rest of the states, the narrative remains pretty much the same. In fact, the United States actually banned spare tires on new cars during World War II and the Korean War due to shortages – so there’s definitely no legal requirement for you to have one.

Spare Tires and Vehicle Safety

While it might not be a legal requirement, carrying a spare tire can certainly add to your vehicle’s safety. Imagine experiencing a flat tire in the middle of the night on a deserted road. Not a fun situation to be in, right?

The Role of Spare Tires in Road Safety

Let’s face it, flat tires can occur unexpectedly and can be quite dangerous. Driving on a flat tire can cause long-term damage to your car and can even lead to accidents. This is where the importance of spare tires comes in. They’re there to get you home or to a mechanic’s shop temporarily without risking damage to your car or your safety.

Possible Risks of Not Carrying a Spare Tire

Now, what are the risks if you don’t carry a spare? Well, the most obvious is you could be left stranded somewhere inconvenient, or even unsafe. But more than that, driving on a flat tire can cause damage to other parts of your car and affect ABS functionality. Plus, it could also end up costing you more for a towing service or emergency road assistance.

Understanding Automotive Standards for Spare Tires

When it comes to spare tires, the NHTSA’s stance is clear: they’re not mandatory. But why is this the case?

NHTSA Interpretation on Spare Tires

According to the NHTSA, while having a spare tire can offer convenience in the event of a flat tire, it isn’t crucial for the safe operation of the vehicle. Essentially, as long as you can get your flat tire fixed fairly promptly, the absence of a spare won’t put you at any serious risk.

Manufacturer’s Perspective: Spare Tires in New Cars

From a manufacturer’s perspective, there are a few reasons why spare tires aren’t always included in new cars. One of the biggest reasons is weight. Car manufacturers are under regulatory pressure to improve fuel efficiency, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to reduce the weight of the vehicle. And guess what? Spare tires can be pretty heavy.

The Shift Away from Spare Tires

Believe it or not, more and more new cars are coming without spare tires these days. It seems like a bold move, but there are some pretty sound reasons behind this trend.

Why New Cars May Not Have Spare Tires

Apart from the weight issue that I mentioned earlier, there’s also the problem of space. Spare tires, especially full-size ones, take up a lot of room. That’s space that could be used for other things, like extra cargo or even new technology.

The Year Manufacturers Stopped Including Spare Tires

It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact year when manufacturers stopped including spare tires. However, according to AAA, 28% of model-year 2017 vehicles do not come with a spare tire as standard equipment. So, it’s a relatively recent change.


I hope I’ve been able to clear up some of the confusion surrounding spare tires. But, I’m sure you still have a few questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked ones:

Is It OK to Not Have a Spare Tire?

In my opinion, while it’s not a legal requirement, it’s always best to be prepared for emergencies. That being said, an emergency tire inflation kit can be a good alternative.

Why Do Some New Cars Not Come With Spare Tires?

As I mentioned earlier, there are a few reasons for this. One is to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency. The other is to save space. Some manufacturers also provide alternatives like run-flats or emergency tire repair kits.

What Year Did They Stop Providing Spare Tires in Cars?

This varies by manufacturer, but many started to move away from including spare tires as standard around 2017.

What Can I Carry Instead of a Spare Tire?

Great question! An emergency tire repair kit is a common alternative to a spare tire. These kits typically include a sealant and a small compressor to re-inflate your tire, and they take up a lot less space!

In conclusion, it’s clear that while spare tires aren’t a legal requirement, they’re still pretty important for vehicle safety. And even though more and more new cars aren’t coming with them, there are still plenty of alternatives to keep you safe on the road.