Having a flat tire can be a major inconvenience. A spare tire can make the problem less inconvenient, but new cars and trucks are coming equipped with them less often.
Purchasing a spare tire makes a lot of sense for many people, but deciding which type is best depends on your needs and desires.
Full-Size Spare Tire Vs DonutFull-size spare tires are the same size as regular tires and allow you to continue driving as you usually would, while donut tires are smaller and only meant for temporary use to get to a repair shop.
There are full-size temporary spare tires that are the same rolling diameter but usually narrower and not designed for extended use.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two types of spare tires and help you decide which one is right for you.
Let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents
What Is A Full-Size Spare Tire?
A full-size spare tire is an extra tire that is the same size and type as the other tires on your car or truck. It is kept in your vehicle in case one of your regular tires gets a flat or damaged.
Since a full-size spare tire is the same as your other tires, it can be used without any problems when you need to replace a flat tire. You can drive with it just like your normal tires, without worrying about going too fast or too far. However, even though it is a spare tire, you should still check it regularly to make sure it has the correct air pressure and is in good shape.
Advantages Of Full-Size Spare Tires
Same size and performance
A full-size spare tire is identical to the other tires on your vehicle, ensuring consistent performance and handling while driving.
No distance or speed limitations
Unlike temporary spare tires, you can drive on a full-size spare without any restrictions on speed or distance, allowing you to continue your journey without the urgency of replacing it immediately.
Better safety and stability
A full-size spare tire provides better safety and stability than a compact or temporary spare, as it is designed to handle the same loads and stresses as the rest of the tires on your vehicle.
No need for immediate replacement
With a full-size spare, you can take your time finding a suitable replacement or repair for the damaged tire, as it performs just like the other tires on your vehicle.
Compatibility with AWD and 4WD systems
Full-size spares are compatible with all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive systems, which typically require all tires to be the same size to prevent damage to the drivetrain.
Disadvantages Of Full-Size Spare Tires
Full-size spare tires are heavier than compact or temporary spares, adding extra weight to your vehicle and potentially affecting fuel efficiency.
Takes up more space
A full-size spare tire requires more storage space in your trunk or cargo area, reducing available storage for other items or making it more challenging to access certain areas.
Full-size spare tires are more expensive than compact or temporary spares, as they are identical to the other tires on your vehicle.
Full-size spare tires require regular maintenance, such as proper inflation and rotation, to ensure they remain in good condition when you need them.
Aging and potential deterioration
Tires, including full-size spares, can deteriorate over time, even if they have not been used. This can result in a potentially unsafe tire if not checked and replaced as necessary.
What Is A Donut Spare Tire?
A donut spare tire, also called a compact spare tire, is a smaller, thinner tire that is kept in your car or truck for emergencies. It’s meant to be used when one of your regular tires gets a flat or is damaged.
Donut spare tires are not like your regular tires. They are only for temporary use, to help you get to a nearby repair shop to fix or replace your flat tire. Because they are smaller and not as strong as regular tires, you should not drive too fast or too far with a donut spare tire. Make sure you follow the rules about speed and distance when using a donut spare, and replace it with a regular tire as soon as possible.
Advantages Of Donut Spare Tires
Donut spare tires, also known as temporary compact spares, are lighter than full-size spares, which can help maintain better fuel efficiency when in use.
Donut spares are smaller and more compact than full-size spare tires, allowing for easier storage in your trunk or cargo area and freeing up space for other items.
Donut spare tires are generally less expensive than full-size spare tires, making them a more budget-friendly option for vehicle owners.
Sufficient For Short-Term Use
Donut spares are designed to get you to the nearest repair shop or tire dealer, allowing you to resolve a flat tire situation without requiring a full-size spare.
Donut spare tires are a common option included with many vehicles, making it easier to find a suitable replacement if needed.
Disadvantages of Donut Spare Tires
Limited Distance and Speed
Donut spare tires are meant for temporary use. They typically have restrictions on speed (usually around 50 mph) and distance (up to 70 miles), requiring prompt replacement or repair of the damaged tire.
Reduced Stability And Handling
Donut spares are smaller and not as durable as full-size tires, which can result in reduced stability, handling, and braking performance while in use.
Incompatibility With AWD And 4WD Systems
Donut spare tires are generally not suitable for all-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles, as these systems require all tires to be the same size to prevent damage to the drivetrain.
Not Suitable For Long-Term Use
Donut spare tires are designed for temporary, short-term use only. They are not intended to replace a damaged tire for an extended period, as they can wear out quickly and compromise vehicle safety.
Due to their smaller size and different construction, donut spare tires can affect your vehicle’s performance, causing it to feel unbalanced or less responsive.
Like full-size spare tires, donut spares also require regular maintenance, such as proper inflation, to ensure they remain in good condition when you need them.
Aging And Potential Deterioration
Like full-size spares, donut spare tires can deteriorate over time, even if not used. This can result in a potentially unsafe tire if not checked and replaced as necessary.
Spare Tire Alternatives
Tire Repair Kits
These kits typically include a can of tire sealant and an air compressor to patch and inflate a punctured tire temporarily. They can help you get to the nearest repair shop but may not be suitable for larger punctures or sidewall damage.
Tire Repair Kit Example
Run-flat tires are designed to maintain their shape and support the vehicle’s weight even after losing air pressure, allowing you to continue driving for a limited distance (usually around 50 miles) and at a reduced speed (usually up to 50 mph) to reach a service station or repair shop.
Tire Mobility Kits
Like tire repair kits, tire mobility kits combine a sealant and a portable air compressor in a compact package. They are designed to seal small punctures and reinflate the tire, providing a temporary solution to get you to a repair shop.
Self-sealing tires contain a layer of sealant inside the tire that can automatically seal small punctures, preventing air loss and the need to replace the tire immediately. They can be convenient for small holes but may not work for larger punctures or sidewall damage.
Roadside Assistance Services
Subscribing to a roadside assistance service, such as AAA or through your vehicle manufacturer, can help when you have a flat tire. These services typically offer tire replacement or repair on the spot, or they can tow your vehicle to a nearby repair shop if necessary.
Portable Tire Inflator
Carrying a portable tire inflator in your vehicle allows you to add air to a low or flat tire, which may provide a temporary solution to get you to a nearby repair shop. However, this option is unsuitable for large punctures or sidewall damage and may not fix the underlying issue.
Craftsman V20 Inflator – Portable Air Compressor
Emergency Tire Puncture Plugs
These temporary solutions for small punctures involve inserting a plug into the punctured area to seal the hole. They can help you get to a repair shop but are not a long-term solution and should be used with caution.
Onboard Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)
While not a direct alternative to a spare tire, TPMS can alert you to low tire pressure or punctures early, allowing you to address the issue before it becomes a severe problem or results in a flat tire. This can help prevent the need for a spare tire in some situations.
Regular Tire Inspections And Maintenance
Ensuring your tires are regularly inspected for wear, damage, and proper inflation can help reduce the likelihood of unexpected flat tires. By staying proactive with tire maintenance, you may be able to avoid the need for a spare tire altogether.
Full-Size Spare Tire Vs Full-Size Temporary Spare
A full-size spare tire is a regular tire that is the same size as the ones on your car or truck. This means it has the same diameter, width, and load capacity as your regular tires. When you use a full-size spare tire, you can drive on it just like you would on any other tire, with no speed or distance restrictions.
A full-size temporary spare tire, on the other hand, is a tire that is designed to be used as a temporary solution until you can get to a repair shop. It is also known as a “space saver” spare tire because it takes up less room in your vehicle than a full-size spare tire. However, it is smaller and lighter than your regular tires and is intended to be used for a short distances and at a lower speed than your regular tires.
One of the benefits of a full-size spare tire is that it provides better handling and stability than a full-size temporary spare tire. Since it is the same size as your regular tires, it can handle the same load and speed as the other tires on your car. This means you can continue driving normally without worrying about any performance changes.
Full-size temporary spare tires are a more convenient and cost-effective short-term solution, but they come with some limitations. When you use a full-size temporary spare tire, you should avoid driving at high speeds or for long distances and get it replaced with a regular tire as soon as possible. However, full-size spare tires can be more expensive and take up more space in your vehicle than full-size temporary spare tires.
Below are some links you may find helpful when learning about tires
- Debate this: A donut vs a spare – NAPA
- Say no to the donut, demand a full spare tire instead – Motor Biscuit
Full-size spare tires offer better handling and performance, but they can be expensive and take up more space.
Donut tires, on the other hand, are a more cost-effective and convenient solution for temporary use, but they are only meant to be used for a short distance and at a lower speed.
Ultimately, choosing between a full-size spare tire and a donut tire comes down to personal preference and needs. Consider factors like your driving habits, vehicle size, and budget when deciding.
Good luck and happy motoring.