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If you have a flat tire on your car, the spare wheel will help in a pinch.

All information and regulations on the spare wheel in the car

The times when cars were delivered with a full-fledged spare are long gone. Nowadays, cars have at most a spare wheel or use different technology. This saves weight and therefore fuel.

  • With a tire plug kit, you may drive a maximum of 50 miles per hour in case of an emergency. The wheel is only intended to get you safely to the next workshop and is therefore not suitable for long distances.
  • With careful driving, even longer distances of 62 miles are possible in an emergency. However, the differential can be damaged by the different tires, so you should really only drive short distances.
  • The tire pressure must be significantly higher for the emergency wheel, usually over 4 bar. Since the emergency wheel is stored in the trunk for a very long time, you should check the tire pressure regularly and adjust it if necessary. During an inspection, this task is always performed by the workshop.
  • The spare wheel is usually a summer tire. In the event of a puncture, you can drive with it even in winter. In slippery conditions, snow and rain, you should drive all the slower, more carefully and shorter distances with the emergency wheel. You will find all individual information and regulations for your emergency wheel either directly on the tire or in the manual of your car.

How long can you drive on a small spare tire?

run flat tires

Puncture kit and run-flat tires instead of the spare wheel

  • A puncture kit is a good alternative to a spare wheel. Compressed air is used to pump a sealant into the tire via the valve. This temporarily closes smaller holes and damage. However, you should not rely on the repair for too long.
  • Run-flat tires are much more comfortable. These make the spare wheel completely superfluous. The sidewalls are reinforced, so there is no damage to the tire in the event of a pressure drop. The breakdown is directly displayed on the onboard computer, and you can drive to the next workshop at a maximum of 50 mph. The tire can be replaced at any time. In some cases, distances of up to 187 miles are still possible.

However, such run-flat tires are also significantly more expensive and heavier. Currently, the tires are only used on high-priced models.

Here are a few tips and hints on the subject of emergency wheels:

  1. Driving with an emergency wheel is only permitted up to a restricted speed of 50 mph. In addition, it is forbidden to drive longer than absolutely necessary with an emergency wheel, so the nearest specialist automotive workshop should be approached immediately.
  2. Emergency wheels should only be used for a short period of time to prevent damage to the differential of the drive axle. Therefore, if possible, the wheel should not be mounted on driven axles.
  3. Check the air pressure of the emergency wheel regularly (approx. every 4 weeks): Note that the narrow emergency wheels require air pressure of approx. 4 bar compared to normal passenger car tires in order to have sufficient load-bearing capacity. To determine the exact emergency tire inflation pressure, consult your operating manual or the vehicle manufacturer.
  4. Outdated emergency tires are a safety hazard! Therefore, check the age and condition of the tires. If they are more than five years old, replacement is often advisable. Have the tires checked by your specialist workshop and replaced if necessary.
  5. The tire size of the emergency tires is not entered in the registration certificate. To determine the appropriate size, use the tire to be replaced as a guide. The marking is similar to the common indications on the tire sidewall. The “T” in the information indicates temporary use only.
  6. Pay attention to the limited driving characteristics of your car due to the emergency tire! Avoid fast cornering as well as strong acceleration and abrupt braking maneuvers. Due to the limited grip of an emergency tire, it is especially important to drive carefully in bad weather conditions.
  7. When replacing the emergency tire, place value on quality! Especially with safety-relevant parts such as tires, it is important to use quality-tested and high-quality processed products (e.g. from Continental, etc.). Seek advice from your workshop when choosing tires.


The weak points of repair kits, emergency tires, and co. become apparent in situations such as vacation travel. This is because it is much more convenient and time-saving to replace the defective tire with a full-size spare tire and be able to continue the journey. Alternatively, run-flat tires, for example, can also be a solution for many motorists, because with these you can easily reach the nearest garage. Ask your independent garage for advice on the subject of tires, here they can also make you a complete offer including replacement, storage, and disposal of old tires.


🔧 How long can you drive on a spare tire?

You should not drive over 50 mph and no more than 50 miles with a donut-type spare tire. Driving for long distances on a spare tire can potentially cause damage to other car parts, including the transmission.

🔧 Can a car sit on a flat tire overnight?

No it absolutely will not damage the rim to let the car sit on a flat tire for the weekend. But the suspension will sag.

🔧 What happens if you drive on a flat tire for too long?

Not only will the tire suffer debilitating internal structural damage, but it could lead to wheel and vehicle damage. The flat will also likely result in poor handling and limited ability to control the vehicle. This is, of course, dangerous, and can lead to accident, injury, or death.

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

Hey, I’m David. I’ve worked in a cars store for 6 years. I write reviews and guides, helping people to choose the most suitable technicals and best product for them. I’m happy to finally share my knowledge of the industry here, on CarnesMechanical.

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