How to Care for a Spare

Tim-EvansWhile blowing a tire is enough of a headache, many actually exacerbate their troubles because they don’t know how to properly use and care for a spare. Learning (and employing) these simple techniques can save you a lot of pain in the future.

Check your spare tire’s air pressure often—about once a month. There is nothing more frustrating when you have a flat tire than having a flat spare as well. Also, check its inflation before use. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure it meets the manufacturer’s recommended inflation before you drive away.

If you have a temporary spare tire, do not attempt to drive on it long term. They are designed to be small and light, and consequently do not have the same load, speed or weather capabilities as your regular tires. Instead, drive only far enough to get to the nearest tire shop for a replacement.

Even though you usually don’t drive on your spare tire, you should consider replacing it every ten years or so. Read and observe the expiration date listed in your vehicle manufacturer’s manual if the spare came with the vehicle.

Otherwise, look at the Department of Transportation (DOT) code on the tire: it begins with DOT and ends with the week and year the tire was manufactured (i.e. a code ending in 2315 indicates that the tire was made in the 23 week of 2015). You should replace the tire about 10 years after that date.

Inspect your tire frequently as its expiration date approaches. If you see cracks in the rubber or other signs of aging, it’s probably time to replace your spare, whether or not you’ve used it. Remember, it’s easier to replace it now than to suffer more extreme consequences later.

Consult with a professional to determine which kind of spare will best fit your needs.