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Q: Is My Spare Tire Still Safe to Use?

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Is my spare tire still safe to use?

A: Whether it is tucked away in your trunk, ha...

Whether it is tucked away in your trunk, hanging on the back, or hidden somewhere under your vehicle, your spare tire is often one of the most forgotten items in your car. Even though you hope that you never need to use it, it does need to be maintained and inspected regularly. Failure to do this can cause you to be caught without a suitable spare when you really need it. Knowing what how to inspect your spare, and knowing what to expect from its lifespan can assist you in having a reliable spare.

Just as with any tire on your vehicle, the tire will deteriorate over time. Whether it is a space saving spare or a full size spare you need to treat it just like the other tires on your vehicle. The air pressure in the spare should be checked regularly, or every few months. Adding it into your normal tire pressure check will help you to avoid forgetting about it. If the spare continually loses a lot of air then you should have it inspected for a leak.

While the tire pressure is important it is also important to do a visual inspection of the tire. When inspecting the tire you need to check it for any cracking or bulges. If any of these are present the tire should be replaced. Most tire manufacturers recommend that any tire be inspected regularly after five years, and should be replaced at the ten year mark. If your vehicle is equipped with a spare tire that is the same as the other tires your manufacturer may require that the spare tire be rotated onto the vehicle during regular tire rotations. This is important to the overall life of the tires. If it is time to replace your spare you may want to upgrade a space saving spare with a full size spare as they are safer and do not have limitations on speed and miles driven like space savers do.

Making sure that you check your spare tire on a regular basis can help you to avoid being caught on the side of the road with a flat tire and a costly tow bill. Keep in mind that when you are inspecting your spare, you also want to make sure that all of the spare tire tools are in the vehicle. The spare will not do you any good if you do not have the correct tools to lift the vehicle and remove the lug nuts. There are also other options available if you do not want to rely on a spare. Besides having roadside assistance, many new vehicles come with a flat repair kit that contains a can of fix-a-flat. This kit can get you to the closest tire repair facility without needing to install the spare. You can also upgrade to run-flat tires. Many new vehicles don’t come with flat repair kits or spare tires as they have run-flat tires, which allow you to continue to drive at a lower rate of speed even during a loss of tire pressure. These are all good options for you if you chose to move away from using a spare tire.

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