How Do I Know If My Spare Tire is Good?

How Do I Know If My Spare Tire is Good? (The Ultimate Guide to Tire Safety)

answers to common spare tire questionsI’ve surely hit a few bumps along the way. Just like you, I’ve had to deal with my share of flat tires, and boy, have I learned the importance of a good spare! But how do you and I know if that spare tire in the trunk is up to the task? There’s nothing more frustrating or downright scary than being stuck on the side of the road with a dud of a spare. Well, buckle up, my friend, because I’ve journeyed this path before and I’ve got the solution we both need.

Just like finding the right jigsaw puzzle piece, understanding the health of your spare tire requires a bit of detective work. But don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it may seem. I’m here to guide you as we unravel the mystery together. So, let’s take a deep breath and start this journey, shall we? There’s no better co-pilot than shared experience, and I’ve got plenty of that. Together, we’ll ensure your spare tire is ready to roll when you need it most.

Checking the air pressure regularly

How do I know if my spare tire is good? Firstly, the most important step in identifying the usability of your spare tire is consistently checking the air pressure. This tire, though often out of sight, should never be out of mind. You’d be surprised at how often a spare tire is neglected only to be found flat or underinflated when you need it most.

You should keep a tire pressure gauge in your car, and every month pop the trunk and check the spare. In my experience, it’s a good practice to do this when you check the oil or other fluids. Also, always check the spare tire’s pressure before a long trip.

Inspecting the tread of the spare tire

Next, it’s time to inspect the tread of your spare tire. This is crucial as the depth of the tread impacts the tire’s performance. You wouldn’t want to drive on a tire with little to no grip, would you?

One simple way to check the tread depth is using a penny. Insert a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing downwards. If the top of Lincoln’s head is not obscured by the tread, it’s time to replace the tire. This is known as the “penny test”, and it’s a quick and reliable way to determine the tread depth.

Ensure the spare tire is in good condition

Finally, do a visual inspection of the spare tire. Look for any visible signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, bulges, or punctures. If the tire is damaged in any way, don’t risk using it. Safety should always be your top priority when on the road.

Also, check the tire’s age. You can find this out by looking at the DOT number on the side of the tire. The last four digits represent the week and year the tire was made. For example, 2717 would mean the tire was manufactured in the 27th week of 2017. Tires should generally be replaced every six years, even if they look in good condition.

Identifying signs of a good spare tire

As we’ve discussed, checking the air pressure and tread of your spare tire regularly is essential. But what are the signs of a good spare tire? Let’s talk about that.

No signs of cracking or significant wear

A good spare tire is one that is in overall good condition. This means it shows no signs of cracking or significant wear. Cracks can be a sign of dry rot, which occurs when a tire is old or has been exposed to harsh environmental conditions for extended periods. If you notice any cracks on your spare tire, it’s time to replace it.

It hasn’t passed the manufacturer’s date

Another sign of a good spare tire is that it hasn’t passed the manufacturer’s date. If you remember from earlier, you can find this date on the tire’s sidewall. If the tire is more than six years old, it’s time for a replacement, regardless of its appearance.

The tire pressure is normal

The spare tire’s pressure should be within the manufacturer’s recommended range. If it is, it’s a good spare tire. If not, you should inflate it to the correct pressure. Never drive on a tire that is not properly inflated, as it can cause a blowout or other serious issues.

Understanding your car’s spare tire

Now that we’ve covered how to check if your spare tire is good, let’s dig a bit deeper. There’s more to understand about this important piece of your vehicle.

Getting answers to common spare tire questions

Firstly, you may have some questions. For instance, you might wonder, “Does a spare tire go bad?” The answer is yes. Even if never used, a tire’s material can degrade over time due to the exposure to heat and other elements.

Secondly, you might ask, “Does it matter what spare tire you use?” Again, the answer is yes. It’s always best to use a spare tire that is the same size and type as your car’s other tires. This is because different-sized tires can affect your car’s handling and performance.

Types of spare tires and their maintenance

There are different types of spare tires, including full-size matching spare tires, temporary/compact spares, folding temporary spares, full-size non-matching spare tires, and donut tires. Each type requires different maintenance.

For example, full-size spare tires should be rotated with the rest of your tires every 6,000 – 8,000 miles. Conversely, donut tires should be replaced with a full-size tire as soon as possible.

How to install a spare tire

If you find yourself with a flat tire, you’ll need to install your spare. Start by finding a safe, flat spot to change your tire. You’ll need a jack, lug wrench, and your spare tire on hand. After loosening the lug nuts, use the jack to lift the vehicle off the ground. Then, remove the lug nuts and the flat tire. Place the spare on the hub, tighten the lug nuts, and lower the vehicle.

Spare tire and safety considerations

The spare tire plays a vital role in your vehicle’s safety. It’s not just about getting you back on the road after a flat. There are some safety considerations you should keep in mind.

Spare tire as a safety precaution during travel

Your spare tire is essentially a safety tool. It’s there to get you out of a tough spot. But remember, a spare, especially a donut tire, is only a temporary solution. You should replace it with a full-size tire as soon as possible.

Safety items to have before changing a tire

When you need to change a tire, you should have some safety items on hand. These include safety gloves, a reflective vest, and a flashlight. These items can help you safely change the tire, even in low light conditions.

How to change a tire safely

Changing a tire safely is crucial. Here are some steps for changing your tire:

1. Find a safe location.
2. Turn on your hazard lights.
3. Apply the parking brake.
4. Loosen the lug nuts.
5. Use the jack to lift the vehicle.
6. Remove the lug nuts and the flat tire.
7. Install the spare tire.
8. Tighten the lug nuts.
9. Lower the vehicle.
10. Check the tire pressure in the spare.

How long you can drive on a spare tire

The length of time you can drive on a spare tire depends on the type of spare you have. If you have a full-size spare, you can drive on it just as you would a regular tire, assuming it’s properly inflated and in good condition. However, if you have a temporary spare or a donut, you should only drive on it as long as necessary to get a new tire.

Frequently Asked Questions about spare tires

How do you know if a spare tire is still good?

You can check if a spare tire is good by checking its air pressure, inspecting its tread, and ensuring it’s in good condition overall. It should have no signs of cracking or significant wear, and it shouldn’t be past its manufacturer’s date.

Does a spare tire go bad?

Yes, a spare tire can go bad over time. Even if it’s never been used, the tire’s material can degrade due to heat and other environmental elements.

Does it matter what spare tire you use?

Yes, it’s best to use a spare tire that’s the same size and type as your car’s other tires. This is because different-sized tires can affect your car’s handling and performance.

How long is a spare tyre good for?

The lifespan of a spare tire depends on several factors, including its type, condition, and how it’s been stored. As a general rule, a tire that’s over six years old should be replaced, regardless of its appearance.


In conclusion, your spare tire is more than just a “spare part.” It’s an essential piece of safety equipment that could save you from a lot of trouble. Regular inspection and maintenance are key to ensuring it’s ready for use when you need it. With that, drive safe and happy motoring!