Tire maintenance & safety

How to maintain and care for a spare tire

Last updated 2/04/2022 - Originally published 9/28/2020
Written by SimpleTire

When it comes to tire care and maintenance, do you know the big four? Pressure, alignment, rotation, and tread. But even if you’re diligent about these (you are, right?), there’s one thing too many drivers forget about when it comes to tire care. And it’s hiding in their trunk.

The spare tire.

Spare tires need some TLC too. And exactly what your spare tire needs will depend on what kind it is.

Spare Tire Pressure

You should be checking your tire pressure once a month. If you have a spare tire, please spare a moment (I couldn’t resist) and check its pressure too.

  • Full-Size Spare: Since a full-size spare tire matches the rest of your tires, inflate it to the same pressure as specified on your tire information placard or vehicle owner’s manual.
  • Temporary Spare: Temporary spare tires are smaller than normal tires and tend to require a higher inflation pressure. Check the tire information placard or vehicle owner’s manual.

Spare Tire Alignment

Okay I can let you off easy on this one. Alignment only applies to tires currently in use on your vehicle, so you don’t need to worry about spare tire alignment. See? Spare tire care is even easier than normal tire care.

Spare Tire Rotation

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend tire rotation, which is the regular switching of a tire’s position on a vehicle to help all the tires wear more evenly.

  • Full-Size Spare: A full-size spare should be included in your vehicle’s recommended tire rotation pattern. It’s common to move the spare tire to the rear-right position, and take the tire that would have been rotated there out to become the new spare. But check with your owner’s manual.
  • Temporary Spare: Again, this is easy. If you have a temporary spare, it doesn’t need to be rotated. Easy breezy.

Spare Tire Tread

Ah, the final step in tire care and maintenance—checking that the tire itself is up to snuff. A tire is only as good as its tread, after all.

  • Full-Size Spare: Treat a full-size spare like the rest of your tires. Be sure to have it in rotation with your other four tires to help it wear more evenly. Replace it when it’s fully worn. Yes, that may mean buying five tires instead of four, but think about it... If you only buy four tires and stick to an old spare, then replace your flat tire with a full-sized spare it won’t be the same size as the other three. And that can do all sorts of wonky things to a car.
  • Temporary Spare: You temp folks are off easy again. Since these tires are only used as needed, they won’t wear down like full-size spares. But the rubber of a temporary spare still degrades over time, so you may still have to replace it eventually.

It may sound daunting, but maintaining spare tires is actually pretty easy. Keep ‘em inflated to the right pressure, rotate them if they’re full-size, and replace ‘em when they’ve reached the end of the road. Not too bad, huh? What kind of spare tire do you have? Do you give it the care it deserves? Or do you have a tire repair kit? Or run-flat tires maybe?

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