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How Long Does A Donut Tire Last

In the past, almost every model on the market was supported by at least one spare tire that matched the one already installed on the vehicle. But in recent years, car manufacturers have realized that this is not strictly necessary. Backup tires aren’t used that often, so it doesn’t add much value to having this replacement for each car. For this reason, manufacturers began to replace full-size spare tires with donut tires to save space and reduce the cost of their products. The spare tire, of course, cannot be a permanent replacement. That begs the question, how long should you be able to drive on this spare tire? The general answer would be that the tire should be replaced with a standard tire about a week after replacement. Donut tires are not made of the same material as regular tires, so their lifespan is not long and durable.

How Many Years Do Donut Tires Last Unused?

Typically, a new Donut tire has a lifespan of between 8 and 10 years. But we recommend replacing them after 6 years or more of unused storage. This is to ensure you have a 100% safe alternative in the event of a flat tire. No matter how carefully you take care of these Donut tires, rubber degradation will still occur. Oxygen in the air and natural mold will degrade tire quality over time. No matter how good the rubber compound that makes up your tire is, the best it can do is only to slow down the process. Over time, the rubber will naturally lose its elasticity, dragging the quality of the product down day by day.

Related post: Tires recommended for the Subaru Forester

Should I Drive On A Donut Tire Longer Than They Are Made For?

Donut tires are inherently just a temporary replacement in unexpected flat-tire situations. These will quickly spoil when you try to use them longer than the recommended time. Donut tires are not made for long trips. Sidewalls that are too thin cause them to wear out faster. And the quicker you try to run, the worse it gets. In addition, because the diameter is relatively small, it will reduce the contact surface and friction, making it much more difficult to control the steering wheel. Lastly, the groove design of the donut tires is often shallow. This increases the likelihood of water infiltration, which implies hazardous consequences.

How Long and How Fast Should You Drive On A Spare Tire?

When installing a Donut tire, the top speed is usually around 50 mph. And you shouldn’t drive on this spare tire more than 50 miles. The biggest reason is that they have little or no grooves, which increases the risk of an accident while trying to exceed that number. Although there are manufacturers on the market claiming their tires can travel further and faster. The risk of a tire blowout when you try to validate that point will also increase. And if your spare tire has been used before, things will worsen. These replacement tires are designed to save space and weight in the vehicle, but they are not built to last. In general, don’t go further than 70 miles and faster than 50 miles per hour if you must install donut tires. You should also consult your owner’s manual carefully for exact recommended numbers.

Read More: How long could you drive on your plug-patched tire?

Can I Use A Donut From A Different Car?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Donut tires are not universal. Each one is built similar to the original tires of the car model they are provided with. Not to mention, handling isn’t exactly the same among cars, even if you pair it with the right vehicle. Consistency between the replacement model and the wheel you are using is essential. It is the key to ensuring a safe replacement. If the model of donut tire you have on hand doesn’t match the one you’re using, the risk of an accident will be extremely high. 

How Long Can You Drive On A Run-Flat Tire?

Despite their storage convenience, Donut Tires still take up space and weight on your vehicle. There is an option for you to skip this spare tire entirely. You might consider run-flat tires, an option that is becoming increasingly popular. Manufacturers realize that it costs less to maintain these tires than their traditional relatives. They are stiffer than most conventional tires. They are built to withstand common hazards, including punctures. Standard tires come flat or deflated, but a run-flat tire will still be able to continue to operate about 50 miles after the hole before they need to be replaced. However, while it is true that you will have more time to ride on flat tires, you still need to have your tires checked as soon as you notice any change in tire pressure to prevent complete tire failure. The price tag for replacing a run-flat tire can be pretty high. Detecting change at an early stage will tell you how much longer you have until you have no choice but to commit to this painful option.


All and all, Donut tires have a shelf life of only about 50-70 miles of driving. In more detail, we know that the spare tire is of two types: compact and full-size. The full-size ones are more similar to a regular travel tire in size and durability than a donut backup. Whereas Donuts are among compact tires, though they are used quite commonly. They are crafted for basic functionality and with convenience in mind. They are relatively more optimal for solving common wheel problems. The depth of the grooves and the number of spikes on the surface are less, so the grip of this tire is usually not high.

It is best to avoid prolonging the usage of Donut tires more than what they are designed for. If you foresee that a Donut tire won’t help you get to the nearest replacement premise, it would be better to ask for a tow truck’s help.

Have a great and safe trip.