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6 Tips for Driving Safely on a Spare Tyre

Safety - 28 February 2019

A spare tyre is like insurance: you don’t need it until you need it and, when you do, you’re so relieved you’ve got it. But in order for your spare to help you out when you find yourself with a flat tyre in the heart of the Karoo, you need to know exactly how to drive with it – and how to maintain it beforehand. The following tips will ensure that your spare tyre gets you to your nearest tyre fitment centre safely. 

1. Know your Spare Tyre

If you’re driving an older car, an SUV or a large bakkie, you may have a full-size spare tyre on hand. This spare will be the same size as your other tyres and will not affect your driving that much. In fact, if your spare is properly fitted, you should be able to drive normally. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit a tyre specialist or a mechanic and replace it as soon as you can. Your spare will not have the same wear and tear as your other tyres and could be a different type of tyre. As a result, it will likely affect your car’s handling and could be dangerous. 

These days, however, full-size spare tyres are rare. Most cars are kitted with a donut – a smaller, narrower and lighter tyre than ordinary tyres. While this tyre is convenient in terms of space, it’s not built to drive fast, far or for very long. It has very little tread and, because of its size, has to spin faster than normal tyres. This all reduces its lifespan. If your spare is a donut, it’s important that you take note of the following precautions.

2. Drive Slowly

One of the most important things you need to do if you’re driving on a donut is reduce your speed. Don’t go more than 80km/h, even if you’re travelling on a national highway. If you are, be sure to travel in the left hand lane and if the road is a single carriageway, move to the emergency lane so that other drivers travelling at speed can pass you easily. It’s also a good idea to drive with your hazard lights on, especially at night, so that others are aware that your car isn’t driving as normal.

3. Limit How Far to Drive on your Spare Tyre

Your owner’s manual will tell you how far you should travel on your spare tyre. If possible, try to adhere to this guideline. This can be difficult if you’re far away from the nearest town, but it’s an important point. Travelling long distances on a spare can affect other aspects of your car, including what is known as the differential. The differential affects how your car turns corners by enabling your inside wheel to travel faster than your outside wheel. The further you drive with a donut, the more pressure it places on the differential, as well as your gears and clutch plates. Try not to drive more than 100km on your spare tyre; instead, make your way to a fitment centre as soon as you can.

4. Know How Spare Tyres Affect Other Systems in Your Car 

Your tyres do not work in isolation. Like everything else in your car, they are connected to a host of other components, equipment, and systems. Using a spare tyre will affect your car’s handling, as well as the way it brakes and corners. You might notice that a warning light will appear on your dashboard because your ABS is not working properly. This is normal when driving with a spare, but should be a further reminder to drive slowly. Allow yourself plenty of time and space to bring your car to a stop and take corners carefully. Do not use cruise control. 

Your spare will also disable your car’s safety systems, such as the electronic stability control and traction control. Once again, this should prompt you not to speed.

5. Keep Your Spare Tyre Maintained

Do not neglect your spare when you’re checking your tyres – it needs to be examined just as thoroughly, especially if you’re going on a long road trip. The pressure is particularly important, as this is susceptible to changes in temperature and can decrease if the tyre goes unused. Your manual will be able to tell you what the pressure of your spare should be. Make it a habit to have your spare checked every time you rotate your tyres, between 8,000k -10,000km. 

If there’s a problem with your donut, it’s better to replace it completely than have it repaired. And if it’s over eight years old (or before then, depending on what your manual indicates), it should be replaced regardless. Full-size spare wheels should be replaced at least every 10 years.

6. Replace the Spare with a New Tyre ASAP

Even if you’re driving a full-size spare tyre, and especially if you’re driving a donut, you need to replace it with a new tyre as soon as possible. If you place your spare full-size tyre on the rim of your original, damaged tyre, you might be able to use it for longer, but it’s best to use a new tyre instead and to have all your tyres properly balanced and aligned by a professional. 

Of course, driving with your spare tyre also means that you no longer have a spare, which is another reason to replace it and return it to its storage spot. 

A properly maintained spare tyre can help you out when you’re in a tricky situation, but it’s only meant to be a temporary solution. Do not push your spare beyond its capabilities. If you need help with your spare – by having it checked by experts or by replacing it with a new tyre – contact your nearest Supa Quick fitment centre. They’ll be only too happy to help. 

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. The views expressed here are not that of Supa Quick. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on this site is at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses and damages in connection with the content on this site.

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