What Is A Donut Spare Tire? Everything You Need To Know

The donut spare tire might not come to the mind of a car owner or driver every other day, but when it does, it comes with apprehension while saving a bad situation.

The donut tire differs from the regular tires because of reasons you are going to learn in this post.

Though the donut spare tire is not suitable for every vehicle, it comes handy for especially smaller cars that struggle with trunk compartments.

What is a donut spare tire?

Donut spare tire and how it should be used

A donut spare tire is a temporary smaller tire that comes with some vehicles that serve as a replacement when one of the main tires goes flat.

It is smaller than the main tires and not designed to be used for long distances or high speeds but to save space and weight in the vehicle.

The donut spare tire is much smaller than the other three regular tires and is meant to stand in until the flat main tire is fixed or replaced which should not take more than a day or a long distance.

Also Read: Everyday Self-Improvement For Men

Donut spare tires can fit into the trunk of the car easily without taking up reasonable space, unlike the regular bigger tires.

They are mostly found in sedans and smaller vehicles. Bigger vehicles are likelier to come with their regular size of tires.

How does a donut spare tire differ from a regular spare tire?

  • Donut tires are made of hard plastic rather than the normal rubber for regular tires.
  • It is smaller than the regular spare tire
  • It is thinner and so is delicate for rugged handling
  • The rim of the donut tire is made from lightweight metal material for flexible maneuvering unlike the regular spare tire
  • Donut spare tire takes a measurable weight off the vehicle and increases mileage
  • There are little or no grooves or threads on the donut which makes it poor in traction

Why use donut tires?

Because of their slender shape and low-quality materials, donut tires are not suitable for heavier vehicles.

Regular spare tires have reasonable weight and can be a resistance to the vehicle, reducing mileage and increasing fuel consumption. The lighter a vehicle, the better its performance.

Also, because of their size, they take up more space and leave insufficient room for items.

Donut tires on the other hand are light and do not take up much space while leaving plenty of room for more items in the trunk.

Car makers opt for a donut tire because it reduces the production cost which would reflect on the buyer.

This however is mostly for the sedan type of vehicles or budget-sensitive consumers.

Donut tire vs regular spare tires

A regular spare tire is a full-size tire that is used as a spare or replacement when one of the tires goes flat.

It is the same size as the other three existing tires the vehicle is using and allows for normal use without any noticeable changes when using the vehicle.

The regular spare tire is included in the regular tire rotation of the vehicle to ensure that all the tires wear evenly.

A donut tire is a temporary spare tire that is only meant to be used in an emergency and should be replaced as quickly as possible as it is not safe for long distances or high speed.

Can you use donut tires on any car?

Each vehicle model has its own donut spare tire provided by the manufacturer and is designed to fit on that particular vehicle.

You might see donut tires with similar features with your type like nut holes but will still not fit. This is why care should be taken to find the right donut spare tire for your vehicle.

Can you repair donut spare tire?

The donut tire cannot be repaired as it’s a temporary product that shouldn’t be available for a long time.

Patching it up or repairing is not advisable and unnecessary. In fact, it’s dangerous as the material is different from the regular tire.

The plastic rubber is thinner, degrade quickly and would not withstand patching.

Replacement is always the best route and should be done after eight years irrespective of if it was used or not.

Donut tires and sensors

Using donut tires on a vehicle with sensors like ABS system will bring about warnings on the dashboard.

This is because the sensor does not understand that the donut tire is temporary as the tire would spin faster than the rest as it has a smaller diameter.

So, it’s okay to ignore the warning there is a problem. When the regular is fixed, the warning goes away.

How long can you drive on a donut spare tire?

It’s advisable not to run on a donut spare tire for more than 50 miles as it is mostly meant to take you to the nearest vulcanizer to fix the bad tire.

It’s pertinent to know that you shouldn’t use donut spare tire to do the normal business of the day.

How do you maintain a donut tire?

There is no special maintenance for the donut tire, however, there are precautions to take to keep it in good shape.

Checking the donut spare tire often to look for any signs of wear and cracks is necessary.

You also want to make sure there is enough air inside as tires can lose air when sitting for a long time.

Also checking the manufacturer’s recommendation is necessary to make sure you are not endangering the tire unwittingly.

How fast can you drive a donut tire?

Donut spare tire should not be used while doing more than 50 mph. This is because it is not built to withstand the stress and is more of stopgap.

Also, because it has to spin faster than the rest of the tires because of it’s smaller size, it has more work to do.

According to American Automobile Association, it is recommended not to exceed 50 mph on a donut tire.

It is only supposed to be used to get one to the nearest exit or a shop to get a new tire.

How does a donut spare tire affect your driving and vehicle?

When driving on a donut spare tire, you will notice strange performance and handling of your vehicle.

There will be limited traction, braking would not be smooth, and very terrible and that is why it requires exceptional care, especially on wet roads.

The vehicle usually tilts to the side of the donut because of it’s smaller size and this stresses it more especially when apply brakes.

It is also in good taste to take good care when negotiating a bend to avoid skidding off the road.

Driving on a donut spare tire has a negative effect on the vehicle’s differential, the part of the engine that sends power to the wheels.

The differential determines how the wheels behave and the speed behind them.

Because of the difference in tire size, the differential would work harder to keep up.

How long does a donut tire last?

The donut spare tire lasts 50-70 miles. It’s quite a short one compared to the regular tire.

On the average, new regular tires have a lifespan of 10 years, but it is recommended to use tires not more than 6 years.

No matter how much you preserve tires, it degrades however. So irrespective of usage or not, discard your donut tire after 10 years.


Donut spare tire is a necessity for every vehicle. It is important because it helps to keep going when your regular tire becomes bad for whatever reasons.

However, donut tires should not be be used for longer than recommended as it might be dangerous because of its delicate nature.

It also does not require speed exceeding 50 mph as it is has little or no grooves and a very thin material.


Information to know about your donut spare tire

Know Your Tires: The Difference Between Full-Size Spares and Donuts


Website | + posts

A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.

Every content published on The Conducts Of Life is well-reviewed by experienced professionals in the field. Contents are fact-checked for accuracy, relevance, and timeliness and we include links to sources at the bottom of every article for more insights.

Leave a comment