Unless your vehicle is equipped with runflat tires, your vehicle comes with a spare tire that needs to be checked from time to time. It is useless to be driving around with a flat, or otherwise inoperable tire in the trunk of your vehicle. Even if you have a road side assistance program, and never intend to change the tire yourself, it is important to keep your spare and tire changing equipment in operating condition. The emergency service provider may elect to change the tire where you are stranded, rather than send a Wrecker to flat bed or tow the vehicle. During busy travel weekends, your emergency service provider may be unavailable to send the wrecker or mobile service truck, in which case you are may be forced to change the tire yourself. Your flat tire may leave you stranded in an area where it is best to change the tire yourself in the interest of time and safety. Also, your tire size may not be available at the service center, which could mean a delay for them to find the appropriate replacement. In any of these situations, having the spare is imperative for safety and convenience.
There are three different types of spare tires you may find come equipped with your vehicle.
- A full-size spare tire and wheel is just like any of your other tires. These are common on mid-size and full size SUVs, pick-up trucks and some sporty sedans. Most full-size spares are the exact size and mounted on the same wheel as the other tires. In this case, it is a good idea to include your spare tire in your regular rotation sequence, which helps keep all the tires lasting longer. When you go to replace your tires, you can purchase in a set of five, keeping one tire at a time stored in the vehicle in case of emergency. Full-size spare tires allow you to drive as far as you need, for as long as you like.
- Some vehicles come with full-size temporary spare tires. These tires accurately match the original tire dimensions, but the wheel and tire could be made from lightweight materials that won't hold up over long distances. These tires are intended for use only in emergencies as a temporary replacement. A temporary spare tire will be marked as such, so you can know the difference by checking the sidewall of the spare tire.
- The most common spare tire are compact temporary spares. These tires are specially designed to fit into a compact space, but still be serviceable on a temporary basis. Never attempt to use a compact temporary spare on another vehicle to the vehicle it came with. Also, the smaller dimensions of these tires require them to be inflated to a higher air pressure than the rest of your tires. Compact temporary spares are meant to get you from the side of the road to a tire dealer that can replace or fix your flat tire.
Regardless of which type of spare tire your vehicle is equipped with, the process to safely change the tire is the same. See the tires-easy.com How to Safely Change Your Tires or our other Knowledge Base article for a step-by-step explanation.