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The Spare Tire Thread

42948 Views 190 Replies 42 Participants Last post by  Dave Z
This thread is to be all about spare tires. Given the age of many of our cars, our spares are probably due for replacement. What have you done, or how have you addressed this? Can be anything from, "I had to add a spare to my SRT car that didn't come with one," to, "I had to buy a new T125/90-18 to replace the old one," or anything else relevant...
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I'm curious as to how long a tire manufacturer expects their donut spares to last. They seem to be harder tires, so I'm curious if they're considered "lifetime" in the 15-20 year sense that most vehicles remain on the road for.

I had a problem on I-40 one night on the way to Las Vegas where I was moving over to leave room for two vehicles I saw stranded on the side of the road with their hazards flashing, ended up hitting the same thing they did, a tractor-trailer front bumper. The donut spare in the Stratus was underinflated and after putting it on we limped to Kingman and stayed there overnight. One of the other vehicles suffered two flats from the debris and I didn't know if my back tire was knicked or not on the sidewall and didn't want to push on to Vegas with the possibility of having a second flat.

Didn't have any cell coverage where the flat happened either.

I had swapped factory 15" aluminum wheels in place of the stock 14" steelies that came on the car. I bought two tires when I replaced the one bad one, and took the other one that turned out to still be good back home, and I bought a 15" steel wheel (dual pattern 5 on 100 and 5 on 114.3/4.5) from Discount Tire and had it mounted to use as a spare. I found that in the '97 Stratus, the 15" full-sized spare fit in the well without needing the spacer that was provided for the donut to keep the trunk floor cover in place.

My Cordoba has 255/60R15 tires on 15x7 American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels. The tire is 27" tall. I'm considering a 15x4 Torq Thrust II with a narrow, tall 15" tire to use for a semi-matching spare that will look good in the trunk even if uncovered yet won't totally take up the trunk if I need some extra space. Alternately, my '95 Impala uses 255/50-17 tires on factory wheels, which are both the same cross section width and same 27" height. Something that I could do would be to upgrade to 17" wheels for the Cordoba, to put new 255/50-17 tires on the Cordoba, and when the Impala's tires wear out, swap the Cordoba's tires on to the Impala, then put new tires on the Cordoba. That way I don't have tires that go completely bad just sitting, and they might actually legitimately wear out on the Impala. Only thing really giving me pause is the relative scarcity and cost of 255/50-17 tires, which are about a grand a set. If I do that then the spare for the Cordoba becomes another matter.

For my not-Mopars, I tracked down factory wheels for both the Nissan Hardbody and for the Impala. I have a factory-sized tire on the Hardbody's spare, and I have a narrower-but-same-diameter tire on the spare in the Impala, a 235/55-17. Since the Impala has directional tires I can't easily add the spare to the rotation, and the spare is not a directional tire. My wife's Integra's spare tire well is too small to accommodate a full-sized, full-width spare, but I'm thinking about seeing if a full-diameter, narrow-width tire can be fit to either the existing spare wheel or to another wheel.

I tend to keep donut spares around even when I replace the wheel with a full-sized one. I had the spare for the Stratus laying around until it went with the car when I got rid of it, and I have the donut for the Hardbody and the non-donut steel spare that came with the Impala. I figure that if I need to put the full-sized spare on but can't get the bad tire dealt with immediately, I can throw the donut into the well to still have a spare until I get the original tire/wheel fixed. Right now I'm working 50+ hour weeks, and I can forsee not being able to get to a tire shop readily during the week.
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Bob Lincoln said:
The original donut spares in both my 84 and 93 Daytonas are in great shape.

The full-size spare underneath my 92 Dakota had deteriorated enough by last year that I bought a new tire. People thought I was foolish to invest in a new tire, especially since I drive it about 3K to 4K miles a year, and don't have occasion to rotate them. But it's crazy to have a spare and for it to be non-functional. It's good insurance. And I winch it down at least once a year to be sure the winch works and I can actually get at it.
That's part why I wonder if the shelf life of a donut spare that's kept protected is better than a conventional daily-use tire or not.

When I bought the Impala it still had its original tires on it, as the car had less than 7K on the odometer. I had the tires changed before I drove it on the freeway or extensively. It came with a 15" steel wheel with conventional-seeming tire as a sort-of full-sized spare, when I pulled that wheel out to replace it with the factory 17" wheel and tire that I acquired I think my placing it on the floor of the garage was the first time that the tire had been on the ground or even out of the trunk since that car left the factory.

digitalrailroader said:
I've only had a blowout once in the 5 years I've been driving, and it happened in the Breeze; I had picked up a piece of metal from the parking lot at the Technology Center when i was getting my Automotive Degree, and it had actually blown out the sidewall. a little bit after that, I went to the local Pull-a-part, and picked up a full size 14" Steel wheel, and had a Brand new tire put on it; that Full size Spare has NEVER Seen Road Ever Since I put it in, because after that, the Breeze's engine Blew Sky High. of course, all Three of the cars we drive now (Dad's Silverado has a full Size 17" spare, The Breeze's Replacement has a 14" Dunut, and my mom's SX4 has a 15" Dunut) the Spares in them have NEVER Seen Pavement (and Hopefully NEVER Will) but one of my Pet Peeves when driving is seeing people driving on a Donut Spare as if its a Full Size Spare! (the Automakers need to put BRIGHT RED Warning Labels on the Space saver Rims that say DO NOT USE YOUR SPACE SAVER SPARE TIRE LIKE A FULL SIZE SPARE TIRE!)
Some of the T-bucket hotrodders like using the donut wheels with replacement tires on their rat-rods, but with the replacement tire it's not unsafe.

I've heard that the XJ Cherokee donut spare tire is a good spare for sixties and seventies RWD Mopar cars, anyone tried this?
Aldo said:
Norm, you would be surprised by the number of self-identified "enthusiasts" who screamed when I suggested SRTs offer a spare tire. I was called a bad driver, a poser, told to buy a Ford, to get a lifetime AAA membership, etc.

To your point about "marketers": they have convinced a number of buyers that driving w/o a spare tire is actually "cool"; like a badge of honor --I imagine until they, or one of their loved ones, gets stranded...
Hey, kind of a change of direction here, but what size is the tire for your new aftermarket spare, and how thick is that spacer?
Makes me wonder what that spare tire was OEM on... I would expect it's an off-the-shelf part for some other vehicle and just happens to clear the brakes with the spacer.

Mind you, I'm not objecting to this. That someone has made an SRT spare solution is in-of-itself a very good thing.
That looks pretty nice actually. I just hope that the tire doesn't suffer any unusual sun-based aging or start to smell funny in the back area.
Heh. The salesman tried to tell me, when I bought my seventeen-year-old car with original tires, that he would just drive it until there was a problem.

HA. Friggin' idiot.

Needless to say, before I took it on the freeway after buying it I put tires on it. Around town for a couple days while the tires were ordered was one thing, but I was not going to be going anywhere with distance or speed like that.
I once had to pull over for a flat tire, along the Interstate, and had no cell phone service where I stopped.

I don't want to have to tow a car simply because of a flat tire. To me that's stupid. I can change it and be back on the road within an hour even in rough conditions to change it so long as the tools and wheel are there.

At this point in my life I can afford to have a car towed, but there were times in the past when I couldn't. I expect that a lot of people really couldn't afford to have a car towed if they didn't have some kind of existing roadside service.

As Aldo has pointed out, not having a spare is a real pain and gets really expensive quickly, and the effort to carry a spare isn't much, and even a full-diameter narrow-width spare is acceptable to finish the drive.
Jeepophile said:
Lawyer-required disclaimer (heh, heh): directional and different size front vs. rear tires, etc. can call for a somewhat different discussion, no?!
Directionality is an issue for me for my non-Mopar, the only tires in my size are all directional in their rotation, even though the two halves of the tread are mirrors of each other. When it's time for the next tire rotation I'll probably have to have them dismounted, turned around, and remounted on the wheels so that what was the more-worn inside becomes the outside, and the less-worn outside can wear down a bit. Annoying and it'll probably add $100 to the cost.

I don't see a problem with the position of at least a donut tire. When they took gas tanks out from behind the rear axle and threw them under the rear passenger's seat under the floor, they suddenly had a huge place for a spare back there instead. My Stratus had a cavernous trunk even with the concealed spare, no issues. It wouldn't have been in the way if the car had been RWD. The only possible interference there is for minivans with a rear seat that folds into the floor, like a Stow-n-go seat, and Chrysler solved that by placing the spare up under the floor between the front seats on the FWD vans where an RWD transmission would sit if the vehicle were equipped with one. Sure, it's a pain to retrieve it, but it's not impossible and it's out of the way, albeit kind of annoying to check the tire pressure in.

Having been stuck with flats a few times, I don't want to be without a spare, even if it's a crappy little donut spare.
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Thinking about my flats...

The Cordoba suffered a partial tread separation and it's a good thing that the car body was so tough, because about a foot and a half of partially-separated tread slapped the underside of the car repeatedly at freeway speeds until I managed to pull over. Somehow it didn't screw up the quarter panel, just took the undercoating off.

The Stratus hit a fallen-off bumper from a tractor trailer that cut deeply up into the sidewall, almost to the rim. Another vehicle that hit the same debris broke a wheel. Previously a front wheel had gone flat from a nail.

The '82 Dodge Truck had a tire come apart at highway speeds in the middle of nowhere, and that one did damage the fender and wheel well. and bent the brake dust shield in against the rotor.

The Nissan Hardbody suffered a bubble in the tire that was too severe to keep driving on.

The work van had a tire failure when I ran over a dark-colored chunk of jagged metal.

A run-flat wouldn't have worked in at least half of these situations.

Aldo said:
So I went to use the infamous spare tire kit I got for my SRT: the aftermarket scissor jack busted into pieces!!! It couldn't handle the weight of the 300. Thankfully I hadn't removed the wheel yet. Cr*p!

I am going to have to find a more sturdy jack...maybe the OE that comes in the 300C...?
I'd go with a small bottle jack. At one point they were OE, my truck came with one, but they probably cost too much for car makers to continue to include them, hence the screw-type jack.

Or, you could carry a small aluminum "racing" jack when you take road trips so if you have a tire problem away from easy roadside assistance. In-town you might be fine without a jack as a service truck can be at your location within an hour usually, so it's not as big of a burden to be without tools so long as you have all of the parts that you need.
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I hadn't considered that.

I have seen a couple of hydraulic jacks that mount the bottle sideways more like a conventional floor jack, but are lighter and smaller, more like a screw-jack.
dmcdonald said:
May not be as easy to find that other sports sedan with a spare. BMW, Cadillac, Audi, and Mercedes all sell some or many of their respective models without a spare tire.
Personally, I like the security that comes with having a spare, especially given the type of driving I do and the roads I cover but Chrysler certainly isn't the first or only to go this route.
A common thread is that all four of those makes are generally purchased by those that can afford the costs of dealing with tire problems when they occur, up to and including a tow and new wheel/tire or even a rental. I'm sure that even our member Aldo here was able to bear the cost of his experience with his Challenger SRT8 flat, even if he was unhappy with having to, but his experience shows that even those that can afford to deal with it may still not want to have to, especially when a half-hour and 50lb in tools and parts would lend to a solution to at least reach a tire shop for a repair or replacement in controlled conditions.
JavelinAMX said:
This is the better solution - and it will end any argument over which is superior :

I don't want to contemplate the lubrication and bearings maintenance of a tracked vehicle for every-day use...
MoparNorm said:
Since both Aldo and I have had flats in the recent past. I think a Poll is an excellent idea!
Let's find out from the members of Allpar, how many have had a flat in the last 12 months.

Remember this is NOT an opinion poll about the change, in spare policy, simply a fact gathering poll to see how many folks do get flats.
In the last 6 months, my daughter has had a flat while driving in her Journey.
My other daughter has had a flat while driving her Patriot.
My Son-in-law had a flat while driving his Jeep.
I've had a flat while driving my Wrangler.
My wife had a flat while driving her Liberty.
Several friends have had flats while driving their trucks to work.
My father in law had a flat on his Ram.
MoparNorm said:
Thanks for the Poll, it however has a bug and won't let my vote be placed.
I was editing, please try again...
Aldo said:
There you have it: a mere 1,800 miles on the odometer and already got a flat!

Those Goodyear F1 Supercar tires are Supercr*p! Every one of the seven flats I've had in the last 8 years has been on those.

Not only are they super-weak, they are also super-useless in winter and super-expensive.
Whatever was original equipment on my Non-Mopar '95 Impala SS isn't made anymore, so I had to switch. I ended up with Nitto 450's and have been pretty happy with them. Granted, I only have a 17" wheel, I do not know about other sizes, but I've had to work to break traction and the little wet weather we have hasn't caused any particular problems either. They also make a 555, but it's technically a three-season tire, and if I want to take any winter road trips I didn't want to have to contend with that.
JavelinAMX said:
I like capable full-sized tires - build the space to carry it. Placed correctly, that could aid rear-end collision protection. But designers would have to be given 'leave' to leverage that sort of thing.
I was rear-ended in the '97 Stratus on the freeway and pushed into the car in front of me, a few days after I'd replaced the donut spare with a full-sized wheel and tire. I think that the spare effectively saved the quarter panels from buckling. The rear bumper's core of foam or plastic or whatever it was pushed into the spare tire well, which slightly deformed as it pushed into the tire, and the tire slid just a bit until it made contact with the front part of the well, and then the tire squeezed just a bit, and that was that. Had the donut been there I expect that the rear-quarter of the car would have tweaked under the C-pillars and that it simply would have been totalled. The body shop was able to pound the spare tire well back out, repair the trailing edge of the trunk opening, and replace the rear bumper cover and bumper insert.
Aldo said:

And like some on here have stated: a tow is not a solution (1) if you get a flat after hours, (2) if you get a flat on your only vehicle, or (3) if you get a flat when you are out of cell range.
Pretty much.

I had to replace a tire on my pickup when the pickup had a flat and another tire turned out to have a bubble in the tread (and I originally thought it was just a crappy truck, silly me!) and on a Sunday the only tire place open that I would at-all trust was the Firestone/Bridgestone service center. No Costco, no Discount Tire, no Big-O, etc. In hindsight I suppose that Walmart might have been open for tires, and probably pepboys, but after pepboys broke a lug on the Cordoba and then tried to hide that they did it, I won't let them touch anything on a car ever again if I can absolutely avoid it. No three-stooges of the auto repair industry for me...

Over on the poll, almost half of respondents have had a flat in the last 12 months, and more than 60% have had a flat in the last five years. More tellingly, no one has said that they've never had a flat or haven't had one in 25 years, with 22 respondents as of writing this. That tells me that the ability to properly stow at least a bare-minimum of a spare tire is essential, even if the wheel and tire itself is undersized, light-duty, or even optional equipment. Someone may purchase a vehicle when they live in the heart of a major city with at least one shop open off-hours that can do tires so they wouldn't absolutely need a spare, but if they moved then that might change and if the vehicle can accommodate one, then they could correct the situation even if they have to pay dealer prices to do so.
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I wouldn't even consider going offroad without at least a full-diameter tire rated for full-duty. It's okay if the tire is narrower for me, I'm unlikely to try to cross the same kind of terrain that many serious offroaders will attempt so it's not as critical if the tread width is a little narrower...

I can see why it's good when multiple-vehicle trips have the same kinds of vehicles. When I was a kid our friends had an Izusu Trooper one year newer than ours, basically the same vehicle. We went four wheeling with them a few times, and while we never got so stuck or broke down that we couldn't pull one out with the other with a strap, there would have been two spare tires that would fit either truck so long as only two tires in total failed. With a caravan of Wranglers of the same era, there'd be more spares than any one vehicle could mount on all four corners if it came down to that, just to get back out to the road again...
dak4x4 said:
If I was to ever buy new, and am only one lotto ticket away from that, I would insist on a full size spare with the rim matching the other 4, period-- not up for discussion; and if the dealer gave me any guffaw on that, I'd turn tail and go to the next dealer....
Trouble is, some vehicles don't have room for a full-sized spare. If my wife's Integra has a flat, the conventional wheel and tire won't sit all of the way down into the spare tire well, the trunk floor covering will be up off the tub.

What I really detest is when manufacturers mount the spare upside-down so that there's no good way to check the tire pressure without removing it from the trunk. That's really stupid, and I've gone out and purchased the parts to properly tie-down the spare with the valve-side up for both of our daily drivers, even though I had to spend more money that one would normally think it'd cost, given that the tie-downs in both daily drivers are all metric hardware and so I had to buy more metric threaded rod and wingnuts and the like.

If they think that mounting the tire upside down means that people will take it out of the trunk to fill it, thus checking it over for flaws, they're wrong. People don't even check their spare tire pressures.
Rob Mayercik said:
The Bad News: It was the Renault Dauphine
Sounds like something Citroen would have tried... Weren't they the hydraulically-powered-everything manufacturer?
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