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Ancient spare tire -- what to do?

This morning I noticed that the front tires on my '04 Camry need to be replaced.* This reminded me of a question I think I asked here a few years ago: The spare tire is the original, 17 years old! It’s been used only once, for about two miles. I’m wondering if it’s time to replace that, too. Do you people agree?

If yes… The rear tires are close to replacement wear. too. I drive only about 8K miles a year. Would it make sense to replace the rears now, and use one of the used ones for the spare? (I can donate the saved money to a food pantry.)

  • Something cool – as the tread wears down, the message “Replace tire” appears in the tread.

It appears you are not rotating the tires as you should. Just put 4 new tires on and use the best one you have now for a spare.


Replace the spare. Use one of the tires off the car but I would not trust the spare.

How old is the newest old tire? I’d probably use it for the spare.

My 03 blazer I had to use the spare in 2018 for a road trip as the night before got a roofing nail in the sidewall and tire replacement places were booked. The plastic gear for raising the spare tire broke, and was a $125 repair for the lifting mechanism alone. So I put the tire with the nail on the roof rack, ditched the spare tire after fix, as I was on pins and needles knowing it was 15 years old but it made it the 500 miles until I could get a replacement for the tire with a nail in the sidewall. The tires had less than 1000 miles. Decided not to put the money into a replacement spare and lifter fix.

You need 2 front tires now and will need the back tires soon. Just start checking the tire store web sites for the buy 3 get on free or a rebate program .

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Thanks for confirming what I was talking myself into.

Did not get a chance yet to check age of rear tires. If they are re-a-a-l old (> 7 years) I guess I better get five new ones.

I did look at for info. Don’t people here generally recommend against taking parts to the mechanic? For recommended installers they include the independent mechanic I use. I favor keeping a good relationship with them, and they have been good to me. I found out about them from my late Dad, and now my son uses them, too.

Ask the shop how they feel about you using tire rack and your shop may even have a good deal on tires . No more than you drive you really don’t need expensive tires . I still say use one of the tires you have for a spare instead of buying a new just to haul around.

You have a full-sized spare, right? Otherwise, your plan won’t work.

If your mechanic is on the list of installers for Tire Rack, you shouldn’t have to worry about having the tires shipped to them from TR.


My favorite 2-bay local shop sold me General Altimax tires for about the same it would have cost from tirerack. They don’t stock many tires, but can get 'em quickly.

For a spare, a local wrecking yard can probably sell you something much newer for a reasonable price. Take yours in to compare size, offset, etc. and leave it with them.

How long do you expect to own this car? I’d have trouble buying a new tire for a spare for a car I’d only own for a couple of years.

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All good questions, opinions, and advice.

Yes, full-size spare. (For my kids, we got Grandpa’s '99 Escort; crammed a full-size spare into the well ion the trunk. That decision paid off.)

The car has only about 150K miles on it and is in excellent condition. Even at 8K-mi/yr, I’ve got time to wear out another set of tires. (And it’s even reasonable to replace the clouded headlight assy’s.) The driver will likely wear out before the car does (I figure I’ll be driving 5 to 10 years longer). And I like this car and I do not want a newer one. (Retired electronics engineer. To me, all the new electronics is just more stuff that breaks. I am SO glad my car does not have TPMS.)

Complications: For various resons (including COVID restrictions), I need to keep maintenance repair appointments efficient. A week ago I scheduled an oil change for tomorrow morning, to leave the car while I walked to a medical appointment. Now I have to figure out about having tires changed tomorrow, or do another appointment.

Maybe “I’ll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.”

I did that for my 1999 Honda and 2007 Town and Country a few years ago. Makes them look like new. And even though aftermarket, mid-priced, have held up well. Don’t distribute the light as evenly as the OEM ones, though.

Refresh – I remembered overnight that the RIGHT front tire had been replaced (hit a curb – twice in less than a mile). My record show that that tire is only two years old this month. (The wear I saw was on the left front.) So, now a whole new set of dance possibilities. Probably starting with RF becoming the spare. Still have to evaluate age and remaining life of rears. Date code seems to be on inside; not very useful.

Thanks, again, for all the advice. I’ll be talking to the shop this morning.

Shanonia – Thanks for the tip on headlight ass’y. I was wondering about how to select replacements. I’ll start a new thread when the weather warms up again.

It’s a lot cheaper to have a shop polish them.

I seriously doubt the spare in the 04 Camry is a full size tire with the same rim…so it’s not part of the rotation. Front-to-back rotation IS the proper rotation. I haven’t seen a tire shop rotate the spare in over 30 years.

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Why . you can get 4 new tires and rotate once a year since you don’t drive that much and not have to mess with getting 2 tires in a few months. Just keep things simple.

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“Why . you can get 4 new tires and rotate once a year since you don’t drive that much and not have to mess with getting 2 tires in a few months. Just keep things simple.”

That is just what I did. I had wanted to make sure that the rears did not have years (rather than months) of life left.

“I seriously doubt the spare in the 04 Camry is a full size tire with the same rim…so it’s not part of the rotation.”

Well, you’re just not old enough to remember :smile: This '04 Camry LE does have a full size spare. Perhaps it’s the last Camry that did. Another reason not to get a newer car.

Thanks for all the help, people.

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Whilst I understand that newer cars tend to come with less “practical” conveniences to make way for better MPG, efficiency, and even safety concerns- you obviously have not needed this spare much over the last 17 years. Not buying a car because of the lack of a full size spare seems to not make much sense in that logic chain. :slight_smile:


What a silly reason to not buy a new vehicle . The last flat tire I had was over 5 years ago and the temporary spare ( donut ) was a lot easier to handle that a full size tire .

As someone else said a five tire rotation is a thing of the past.

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