How Long Can You Drive on a Factory Spare Tire (Really)?

I know many people suggest that you do not drive on a factory spare for more than 50 miles, but are the really designed to implode once you exceed 50 miles?

The reason I ask is that I have a 2006 Honda Civic EX that currently has three (3) normal tires and one (1) spare on it (after a flat I swapped to the spare and have only driven 5 miles on the spare). All four (4) wheel rims need to be replaced with 4 new tires. BUT I want to drive 150 miles to:

1. Make it a wedding this weekend in my hometown (I am a groomsmen)

2. Get a great deal at my hometown tire shop that is having a tire sale this weekend where you get free alignment & tire service and $100 off any purchase of four (4) Michelin tires. Almost $200 value!

So you decide what I am to do (and include any scenarios that I have not listed).

1. Get 4 new tires in my current location, but miss out on a good hometown tire deal worth ~$200 (I am currently a poor college student by the way) and still make it to the wedding.


2. Buy one tire to get me to the wedding (no spare used), but still get four (4) new tires with the tire deal and make it to the wedding. A little more money.


3. Drive on the spare for 150 miles below 50 mph, get a four (4) new tires for a great deal, and make it to the wedding

Personally, I am leaning toward option 3 of driving on the spare, but I will let you the people decide what I am to do. I just have a hard time believing the spare will not last me 150 miles if I drive under 50 mph, but that belief could easily change if the spare tire does not last me during my trip.

FYI- I am tight on money and according to the 2006 Honda Civic owners manual you are “not to exceed 50 mph when driving on a spare tire” and there is no mention in the owners manual of the maximum distance that can be traveled on a spare.

Your input would be great!



You do realize that flat tires are usually fixable, right? Do you have any reason to suspect the flat isn’t fixable? The best option would be to pay the 10-15 bucks to have the flat fixed before you leave (yes, even though you’re only going to put another 150 miles on it before you junk it). Another option would be to put a can of fix-a-flat in the tire, although the tire place will hate you because it makes an awful mess (and make sure it’s a newish can-- some of the old stuff could explode when the tire was dismounted).

It’s not like the doughnut spare is going to explode from driving it 150 miles below 50 mph, but driving 50 mph on the highway is not very safe, especially since you’re not really sure what the car is going to do in any kind of evasive maneuver. Exactly how dangerous it is probably depends on traffic and weather conditions, but in general I’d avoid it.

Yeah, I forgot an essential piece in my post: The tire is beyond patching and the steel belts are exposed. In my green age I have patched plenty of tires and this tire is beyond that. I really wish that were an option though. Attached is a picture of the tire if you would like to take a gander.

How many lives do you have left after driving on that tire? If you haven’t used them all up yet, driving on your spare will be safer than driving on that thing. Every time I wonder about the hassle of yearly state inspections I just think of drivers like you and I’m glad my state requires them.

Keep in mind that if the ‘donut’ spare is on the driven wheels, that the “50 mile” rating and the low speed is to keep the axle’s gearset from excessive wear and overheating due to the mismatched tire sizes, and not because the tire is going to wear out.

The spare is probably far better than the tire you show in the picture… I hope the rest of them aren’t that bad. I haven’t been dumb enough to drive on tires like that since I was a 17 year-old @#$! head though… Scrape up and get a decent cheap set of tires all-round and your driving will be much more enjoyable. (I’d avoid General tires)

I’d Only Run That Mini Tire On The Rear (FWD) For The Reason Given By Oblivion (Drivetrain Wear). Have You Read The “Fine Print” On The Spare Tire Itself ?

Here’s an idea. After the wedding you should ground your self until more funds are available. If the tire in the picture is any indication of your idea of car maintenance then the whole car is probably just about junk.

Even if you don’t care, others that you share the road with do care. Get all the maintenance up to date and have the car safety inspected. Meanwhile, do everyone a favor and keep this car parked. It’s not a game.

Oh, and don’t cheap out on your liability insurance. Purchase the maximum coverage.


You’ve presented options that you’re wrestling with.
However, driving on tires like that has a great way of making the decision for you.

simple answer to a simple question…how much is your life and others worth??? get four new tires!

First whatever you do make sure the tire pressure is proper in your spare on the car. The proper pressure is on the rim or tire itself.

You don’t need Michelin tires on a Civic if you cannot afford tires. Just buy the least expensive set of four and motor on.

You realize if you blow the spare besides the danger you are stuck not showing for your friends wedding?

If your other tires look anything like that tire, you should buy new tires immediately in your current location.

If/when you cause an accident I am sure that a lawyer would love to read this thread. Can you say “involuntary manslaughter”? How about “Darwin Award”?

If this one tire is representative of the other 3 tires (as well as the general maintenance of the vehicle), then the car is not safe to drive at this point.

I can understand being a “poor college student”, but if you think that you are poor now, just imagine what it will be like if you have an accident because of defective equipment (think “total liability” for the injuries or deaths of other people). A court verdict that does not go your way could result in your salary being “attached” for…maybe the next 20 years in order to pay the claims of your victims.

Don’t take a chance. Either replace all 4 tires now or get somebody to drive you to that wedding.

Buy a used tire and have it mounted on the standard rim and put on the car. The spare goes back as a spare in case you have a blow out on the road and off you go to the wedding.

You could probably buy 4 tires of a lessor brand than Michelin and spend less money overall than the great deal on Michelin’s. Michelin tires are very good, but very expensive and they make more profit therefore have more room for promotional programs and discounts.

Whatever you do, don’t drive on the spare. The rubber is hard, the tread isn’t deep, and the tire “patch” is small. This means less rubber on the road so lower traction. The tread will be worn off if you make it without a blowout and you’ll then have to spend more money on a new compact spare tire.

I hope this spare is on the back. I wouldn’t drive with a smaller diameter tire on the front with front wheel drive.

If you buy tires 150 miles away, free balancing or rotations or warranty service won’t be very practical.

New set of tires or good used set, but you should not attempt a 150 mile trek on a T-type spare tire. Distance does matter whether your manual states this or not.

Rather than risk killing myself or others, I’d skip the wedding if it came down to that.
The groom should surely understand the reason why.

If the tires are all like this then we won’t even get into a potential timing belt issue…

And better yet, he should have his vehicle towed to the tire dealer.

That tire pictured, even if the belts weren’t exposed, is clearly WAY past the point where it was safe to drive on.

  1. driving that far on a doughnut spare is unsafe.

  2. driving ANYWHERE on tires so worn as to expose the carcass is EXTREMELY unsafe. Not only are the tires dangerously close to suddend failure, they’re completely unable to disperse water in wet pavement. They’ll ride right up on the surface of the water (hydroplane) and you’ll lose traction completely, as if you were on ice.

Thes tires are DANGEROUS. Either buy new tires for the trip or take a bus. You’re dangerously close to crashing. If you think tires are expensive, wait until you crash.

While I agree withe apparent consensus of buying new tires in your current location, I also have a slightly different perspective. What are you going to do if/when the spare blows out, or another tire blows out during the trip and our spare is already in use? Think about the effect that could potentially have on the wedding you’re attending. Do you really want to potentially ruin, or at the very least have a negative effect on, someone else’s once in a lifetime day? It would be one thing if you were just a guest in attendance, but you’re actually involved in the wedding party.

This would be a quick and easy decision for me. Don’t be selfish. Good luck.

I would buy 4 new tires now in the current location. As others have stated, Michelin tires are expensive. You could save $100 or more buying other tires that’s not Michelin but descent enough and last as long. Plus you’re trying to save $100 but think of all the risk involved for $100! An accident would cause a whole lot more than $100.

Also, in most places if you buy a set of four tires you would get free balancing & rotation for the life of the tires at the place you buy them. So if you buy the Michelin in your hometown, you either have to go there every time you need to rotate / balance (150 Miles travel), or pay for it if you have it done at your current location. So IMO it doesn’t seem to add up to worth the initial $100 saving.

Get something like Bridgestone or Kumho and you’d probably pay less than the Michelin - $100 discount. Plus you could probably also find discount at your current location, just call some local tire dealerships and ask, it’s hard to believe that only your hometown tire dealearship has some discount like that.

Tire alignment probably cost anywhere between $50-70, and in some places you can buy a package that will give you free alignment for the life of the tires for a bit more, which may be a good investment.

So, IMO, it’s really not worth it to wait just for that discount with all the risk involved. What seems like the initial saving of $200 does not worth that much if you figure in all the factors.

One other suggestion is try to Ebay a 5th rim and put a new tire on that. This way, you never have to worry about the donut at all. For some reason, Jeep put them on the Grand Cherokees. 65 bucks for a rim and 135 for the tire later can swap out with spare and go the extra mile(s)