Using Old Tire as Spare

Growing up, whenever my parents needed to put new tires on one of their vehicles, they always asked to have the best of their older tires placed on a rim to be used as a spare. Their reasoning was that this would give you a regular tire to drive on if you happened to get a flat. I was wondering if this was a good idea or not.

I am getting ready to put some new tires on my 2012 Fiesta S sedan, and I had previously noticed that my car’s spare is just a little donut. Granted, I realize I would need to get a full sized rim to mount the tire and I’m not terribly sure if a full-sized tire would fit in my trunk, but I wanted to see if my parents old advice still rang true.

Thanks ahead for your help!

It’s good advice, IF the ‘old’ tire is less than 7 years old. But in your case, you’ll need to get a rim, and you’ll be giving up lots of storage room. I don’t know if I’d want to make that big a sacrifice. Up to you…

I think you first need to find out if a full-size spare fits in the storage space or not. Does your owner’s manual tell you where to put your flat tire when you put on the spare?

If it does fit, it is handy to have a full-size spare so that you don’t have to worry about the speed and distance limitations of a compact spare. However, you will be carrying around extra weight all the time, ever-so-slightly reducing your fuel economy. As texases mentions, you do need to be aware of the age of the tire as well, although a spare tire not used and not exposed to the sun can probably be pushed to the upper age limit. Some people prefer to buy a matching wheel, buy five tires, and include the spare in their rotation pattern; this way, the spare always matches the other tires in tread pattern and tread depth, which is preferred.

If it doesn’t fit, I personally wouldn’t give up regular trunk space for this. Flat tires aren’t as common as they used to be, presumably due to better tire construction.

Did u ever use your current spare tire?

“Did u ever use your current spare tire?”

That’s a really good question because I’ve owned a lot of different vehicles in the 40+ years that I’ve been driving and have only used a spare tire of couple of times. I usually get rid of tires that are down to the halfway mark on their treads which is probably a very good reason for my limited use of spare tires. I learned a long time ago that brakes don’t stop your vehicle safely…tires do.

"I'm not terribly sure if a full-sized tire would fit in my trunk"

More than likely, it won’t fit.
Or, if it does fit, you won’t be able to carry anything else in the trunk that is larger than a can of tuna fish.

Then, there is the issue of the added weight which will decrease your gas mileage slightly, as well as the cost of the extra wheel that you will need to mount that tire on.

Using an old tire as a spare is actually a good idea, but when you consider the downsides of keeping it in your trunk, and when you consider how rarely you need to use a spare tire, I don’t think that it makes good economic sense.

It’s much safer to use a full service tire should you need to than to use a compact spare, especially in adverse weather, and super-especially on snowy roads.

I had a cosmetically damaged rim that I wanted to keep the tire on and use as a spare, but, alas, it wouldn’t quite fit in the spare tire cavity. Damned close, but not quite.

I had 2 full size Chevies and a rear drive Olds 88, and both had enough room for a full size spare in their very large trunks. My current cars, however don’t have room and I’ll use the compact one. If you buy some newer Hyundai models, you don’t even get a spare or a jack., just a little compressed air canister. I think this is a crazy idea, at least where I live. They will sell you a spare and a jack for over $300 or so.

Your tires are at most 4 years old now, and the best of the lot should last through the next tire cycle. At the second replacement in 3 or 4 years, your donut spare will be more than 7 years old and should be replaced too. You might extend replacement since it never sees sunlight, but eventually it will need to be replaced.

Doc, I agree that it’s a crazy idea. It’s motivated by the constant drive to eliminate every possible ounce in order to satisfy the ever-more-stringent CAFE requirements.

Actually, I thought the canisters were filled with some version of Fix-A-Flat rather than just compressed air, but I’ve never looked at one so I didn’t know.

Get a spare rim at a salvage yard and use the best ‘old’ tire on it when you buy new. This way, the spare also gets rotated regularly. I’ve done this to every car and truck I’ve owned. Luckily, the last few cars have allowed for full-sized spares in the existing tire well in the trunk. One, a Mazda, only required that I pull off the foam spacers on the press-board well cover to fit it in. My neighbor bought a Honda Fit a couple of years ago, and immediately got a full-sized rim and tire and a nice tire cover, since it did not fit in the well. He travels a lot, and has had a tire damaged from road debris out in the middle of nowhere. That one time he had to use the donut spare was enough to swear off them forever, even if it costs a bit in trunk space.

The only problem I see with that is OP’s car has TPMS

If you use that junkyard rim . . . minus TPMS, I presume . . . the light will be on

I don’t think there is a provision for using the spare as part of the regular tire rotation. For that matter, I don’t even think the TPMS module has a provision for looking for a sensor in the spare rim

That TPMS light is going to get real annoying, real fast

I personally take the 7 year rule with a very large f\grain of salt, I have never seen a donut spare with a cracked sidewall and I have had some 15 years old.

@db4690, the TPMS on my truck doesn’t read the spare. The spare has no sensor. But, it also is mounted on a steel rim where my 4 main tires are on factory mag rims, so it is not part of the regular rotation. It sits on it’s mount until needed. The TPMS only goes off if one of the 4 main tires goes down. But, the spare is used temporarily until I can get to the tire shop, so the short time of that light on is not much of an issue.

Well I have an old full size spare, got AAA and no doubt the old spare will get me where I need to go if needed, but it holds pressure but is not a highway reliable tire due to age. Thinking I only needed 2 spares in the last 40 years, good enough for me along with roadside assistance of course.

That was back in the day when the spare was also a full sized tire, not a temporary one. Given the number of times normal usage requires using a spare at all, the fact that it won’t likely fit in the trunk, I think I’d forget about it.

At some point probably, you’ll be a couple hundred miles from home on the weekend and wreck a tire. So then you either go to a Walmart or something open on a Sunday for a cheap or used tire, or spend an extra night on the road until things open on Monday. Then when you get back home get a new set of quality tires. Its happened to me once in 50 years is all so its an acceptable risk. I was lucky, it was still 5:00 and a place was open and they had a used tire for $20. I needed a couple new ones anyway the next week.

The advice your grandparents gave you is good. The main issue is sacrificing what precious little storage space you have in the trunk. I’m not a fan of T-type spares myself.

If you keep the T-type spare I might suggest that you check the air pressure in it now and then. The spares are out of sight, out of mind, and can leak off a little just like any other tire.
Those tires also are meant to be aired up considerably higher than the normal tires.

The only problem I see with that is OP's car has TPMS

If you use that junkyard rim . . . minus TPMS, I presume . . . the light will be on

I don’t think there is a provision for using the spare as part of the regular tire rotation. For that matter, I don’t even think the TPMS module has a provision for looking for a sensor in the spare rim

That TPMS light is going to get real annoying, real fast

Wouldn’t TPMS simply see 4 senor inputs and not care that one of them wasn’t spinning?

I rotate my tires on my TPMS-equipped 2008 Cobalt and the data readout never catches on the tires have moved: the “RF and LF” psi are now actually RR and LR, respectively. I’ve heard of folks tossing four TPMS sensors in a PVC pipe ion the trunk to make the light go out, so as long as there are 4 good TPMS sensors in the mix, the car shouldn’t care.

I was thinking the tpms sensor in the rim, in the trunk, might be a little far away, and maybe the tpms module wouldn’t see it

Usually there is a procedure for recalibrating the TPMS after tire rotation. On my Acura you just drive over 15 mph for a minute or two and it recalibrates. On my Pontiac I have to do something like hit the lock on and off button simultaneously for 5 seconds, then lower or increase tire pressure at each tire in turn. Then it re-learns where each sensor is. Its in the book. Not hard, just a little strange.