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Does a 2001 spare tire need to be replaced because the rubber is too old?

I was at Discount Tire today getting a routine tire rotation and they wanted to sell me a new spare tire. They didn’t inspect my spare, they just said that after 10 years I should replace it because the rubber was now too old. What do you all think of their advice? (My spare is the original, factory doughnut spare that came with the car and I’ve only driven on it once for like 2 miles. It looks fine to me, if appearances mean anything.)

It is likely too old, but I wouldn’t replace it. If it is holding air (I think donuts are supposed to run at about 50 lbs of pressure) then it should do the job if you get a flat. If it has obvious dry rot cracks then I’d consider a replacement.

I would replace it when it blows out in your trunk…If the tire store people did not check the air pressure in it I would at least do that…

by the book, they are correct. rubber does deteriorate and if your spare is not in the wheel well, and maybe mounted outside, even more factors hit that rubber beyond just age, like UV rays, heat, freezing temps ect.

if you play it safe, get it changed. if you want to chance it, it could be ok when you need it but could also be flat or actually disintegrate when used in an emergency.

most people have AAA or some equivalent so you aren’t really dealing with this anyways.

gdawags, I’m curious what you mean by most people have AAA or some equivalent so you aren’t really dealing with this anyways. If AAA came to assist me with a flat, wouldn’t they just want to put on the spare for me?

You’re fine if the tire isn’t dry rotted and side walls cracked, it is good to go. It’s been out of the sun, which is harmful to the rubber. Drive on, don’t worry about it.

The donut spare has a speed limit of 35 mph, you have to follow that-even when new. I think if it holds pressure (I think it is supposed to be 60 psi for the spare) and you stick to the speed limit and just drive to the shop to fix your tire, then you should be fine.

If you want to change it, then there are a lot of other parts on a 11 year old car that could fail and you have to change them too; might as well buy a new car.

Makes me wonder if this is a new “campaign” by the tire shops in this tough economic times.

I have never seen an owners manual with a speed limit for the temporary spare of 35 mph, I have seen 55.

This warning by the tire shop is true–in theory.
However, if the tire holds air pressure (60 lbs, IIRC), and if there is no visible cracking in the sidewall area, I wouldn’t worry about it.

If you were planning on driving long distance with a 10 year-old tire, that would be a different story, but this is a temporary spare, designed just to get you to the nearest tire repair facility. If you observe the speed limit and the distance limit for this temporary spare, you should be okay.

Just to show you how this is being over- hyped, there is a story in the latest issue of Hemmings Classic Car magazine, about a 1909 Buick that is still driveable. Among the most remarkable things regarding this car are how many components are original, vs how few have been replaced over the past 103 years.

One of the engine’s two spark plugs is original, and the other was replaced at an unknown time in the past. The radiator cap has been replaced, as have the ignition wires. And–yes–the tires were replaced–in 1926!
Yes, the owner is still driving on tires that are at least 86 years old!

Obviously, the owner does not drive this old car very fast, nor does he drive it very far on those tires, but–if you are following the guidelines for your temporal spare tire, you would be doing essentially the same thing that this man is doing with 86 year old tires.

We sold our 1977 Dodge Colt for parts in 1997. The mini spare had never been used, had no cracks and held air (60 psi). For the little such a tire is used, and the fact that it is not exposed to direct sunlight, it’s safe to use as long as it hold air.

But observe the 60/60. rule; no more than 60 mph and no further than 60 miles. These instructions are in all owner’s manuals.

I was once forced to drive on one for 250 miles at 55mph on the rear of a Crown Vic…It destroyed the differential and I had to change the entire rear axle…PLENTY of room in a Vic for a full-size spare…

terrabiped April 14 gdawags, I'm curious what you mean by most people have AAA or some equivalent so you aren't really dealing with this anyways. If AAA came to assist me with a flat, wouldn't they just want to put on the spare for me?

If the spare was viable. Otherwise, they’d tow you to a shop. Check with your insurance company. Many are now offering roadside assistance as part of the insurance package that is similar to AAA service. My credit card even offered me a similar service as part of my card benefits. It’s not uncommon to have some form of roadside assistance even without a AAA membership.

If this is your wife or daughter’s car and she uses it on long trips, maybe. For my own car, I would not even consider replacing a spare as preventative maintenance until it is at least 20 years old. As noted above, there are lots of rubber and plastic parts that get old on a car that could possibly strand you. Not practical to replace them all. If you are really concerned about safety, you won’t drive on a space saver spare anyway. Ever slammed on the brakes while using one of those?

Thank you all for your comments.

I think the big issue with those spare tires is not whether the rubber is good or not; it’s whether the tire pressure is kept up to what it should be.
An equally large issue is whether the speed is kept down. I can’t even remember the number of people who have blown by me on the interstate at 75 MPH while running on a T-type tire and in one case, two of them on a heavily loaded car.

Other than tire pressure, I wouldn’t worry about replacing it.

I would suggest that it may be OK for temporary use, but I would not want to use it on the car for anything other than emergency use. Just don’t come back here in 8 months after it blew while you were in the fast lane on the freeway.

The problem is there are so many factors that can decrease the safe age for a car that no one can tell you it is going to be 100% safe for X miles more etc.

If it were my car – since I drive it mostly in suburban areas near to where I live where the spare would only need to get me 5 or 10 mile – as long as it held air ok and looked ok, I wouldn’t worry much about it. If you frequently drive in remote areas where it is a long way to the nearest gas station, then maybe a new spare might be worth it.