Dumb Junkyard Tire Question

My uncle gave me his car, and the “spare” in the trunk was a full size tire of a completely different size, width, everything… it obviously was not the OEM spare. I want to get a full size tire and wheel from the junkyard. I know those tires aren’t always in the best shape and everything, but I would could eat the $2 entry fee if the tires looked obviously bad. This would be a true spare just to get me to the shop in case I lose a tire, so it doesn’t need to be perfect.

OK, so now the dumb question part: when I yank the tire off, what do I do with the car I took it from? Is it BYO cinder block to prop the car up? Does the junkyard have things for this situation?


Go to one of those pick you own parts junkyards

The cars are already propped up

You’ll need to bring your own tools, ie lug wrench and something to pop off the cap or lug cover. Myself, I wouldn’t trust a tire from a junkyard. I go there to get a rim, but go to a used tire store for a tire. Better yet, I buy a couple of new tires and use one of the older tires on the spare rim.

The cars are all propped up already… thanks. It is one of those “u pull” junkyards. I wouldn’t trust a tire like this full time, but it really is just the spare.

I got a set of brand new tires with wheels from a U-Pull-R-Parts yard for $48.00.

The tires must have just been put on the vehicle before it was wrecked.


Yep, the U pulls around here all are supported on spare rims and wheels are off. The other yards won’t let you go pull stuff off so they already have them off and probably in the warehouse. I’d agree, no reason you can’t get a good tire there, but you can get a space saver for $10-20 with few miles and easier to match.

I’ve had good luck getting rims from junkyards for cheap, and no reason to believe I couldn’t get a good spare tire there either. Junkyards are a great resource for the frugal minded. And they are just a fun place to go if you are a curious type.

Here’s my question for the OP: Since you plan to only use the spare for a short distance, or maybe never – I’ve never used the spare tire that came w/my Corolla in 20 years – why not just use the spare tire/rim you already have? I mean assuming the rim fits the hubs properly and there isn’t any clearance problem. Driving on a different size tire won’t hurt anything if it is only for a few tens of miles.

I miss having a U pull. I used to have two of them. Now I have zero.

@niles, keep an eye on Craigslist too where people are always selling all manner of parts and parting out cars. Getting wheels that way can be a little tricky since if it isn’t off of exactly the same vehicle with the same wheels, you will be the one to have to figure out the proper wheel specs.

What size is the current spare, what size are your tires? It may be more compatible than you think.

The cars are all propped up already… thanks. It is one of those “u pull” junkyards. I wouldn’t trust a tire like this full time, but it really is just the spare.

It does not matter is its only the spare. A spare needs to be ready to do its job when needed and a salvage yard tire should not be trusted. It could leak while in the trunk therefore you have two flats.
It could leak after it is installed, in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of the bad part of town.

Get a used rim and a new tire. Go. Do it now. And eat your veggies, they’re good for you.

If you’re going to use the spare in your tire rotation you want a new tire.

I just checked, and the tires aren’t nearly as bad of a match as I remembered them being: the ones on the car are 175/70/13 and the spare is 185/70/14. The actual tire itself is totally gone… 2/32" if it’s lucky and it’s all dry and cracked. The wheel doesn’t seem to have any dents or anything, though. There’s supposed to be a thaw this week, so I’ll see if there’s clearance and if it actually fits on the hub.

The reason I want something better than a donut tire is because we’re a road trip family. If a tire goes 500 miles from home, I’d just throw the spare on for the rest of the trip and cross my fingers 'til we get home; AAA would be my second spare if it comes to that. I wouldn’t want to be stuck going 35 MPH with a donut, or missing hotel/activity reservations while waiting for a shop to open. Other than that, it’d be in the shop right away.

If the wheel fits well on the hub, I’d probably buy a new tire just to save the hassle and gamble of going to the junkyard. What would be everyone’s recommendation for a new tire size? I’m assuming I’d have to stay with a 185 to get a good seal, but could/should I downsize to something like 185/65/14 so the tire size matches its partner across the axle better?

Idunno, flat tires are pretty rare these days. I have a hard time remembering the last time I had to change one on the road, but I guess it happens. More often, you can get it to a tire shop for repair. Might be easier just to carry a 12volt air compressor if it every happens.

It’s an interesting idea to get a portable compressor, but I’d rather spend $20 more (or possibly $20 less if I do the junkyard route) for a spare that will definitely fix the problem instead of a compressor that might fix the problem. I already have a plug-in compressor at home, so I don’t need one to fill/check my tires regularly.


Considering you might use the spare on a road trip . . . if needed . . . you really need a new spare tire

Getting the spare rim from the junkyard is an excellent idea

Then you bring the spare rim to a tire shop and ask them to mount a new tire of the size you need

If you’ve got 175/70r13, then that’s the size you need to buy

What size tire are you supposed to have, as per the owner’s manual?

If you don’t have an owner’s manual, please tell us the make, model, and model year of your car

It’s a 2002 Accent. 175/70 R13 is listed as the standard, and 185/60 HR14 is listed as “option”. I don’t know if that’s optional replacement or as part of an option package on the car.

It’s part of some sort of package since 14" tires won’t fit on 13" wheels.


you want to keep all of the tires and rims the same size, including the spare

If I did my math right, a 185/65R14 would be about 3mm shorter than a 175/70R13… that can’t be too terrible to drive on for a few hundred miles at most, right?

@niles That wouldn’t be good for your differential