Driving on a Donut Tire: What You Need to Know

When you get a flat tire, replacing it with a new one is the best course of action. However, if you can’t change the tire, you can use a donut tire temporarily. Although driving on a donut tire is not ideal, it’s better than going on a rim. But what happens if you keep driving with a donut tire? Here’s what you should know.


Pros and Cons of Driving on a Donut Tire

Donut tires are typically used as a stop-gap measure when you can’t change your flat tire right away. While they’re less reliable and safe than regular-sized tires, they’re often necessary for emergencies. Here are the major pros and cons of driving on a donut tire.


  • Lightweight: A vehicle with a donut spare may be easier to handle because of its lightweight construction, making acceleration, braking, and cornering smoother than larger tires designed for everyday use.
  • Occupies less storage: Donut tires take up less space and are less bulky than their traditional counterparts, making them practical when storage space is at a premium.
  • Cost-effective: The primary advantage of using a donut tire is that it’s an economical solution, as buying a new, full-sized tire can be expensive. Donut tires are much cheaper than full-size spares.


  • Limited strength: Donut tires are primarily designed for emergencies rather than for long distances or high-speed travel, making them weaker than regular tires.
  • Less resilient than regular tires: Although a donut tire is better than driving on a metal rim, it doesn’t offer the same stability as a standard tire. It’s not as resilient and doesn’t have the depth of tread, which increases the risk of hydroplaning or slipping in wet or icy conditions. It also provides less traction, so the response time to regain control after braking could be longer if unexpected changes occur in the road.
  • Non-repairable: While a donut tire can be helpful in an emergency, it can’t be repaired. It will eventually wear out and may cause further damage to your vehicle when it fails.

What Is the Lifespan of a Donut Tire, and Where Can You Get One Replaced if Necessary?

A donut tire can last up to 10 years, depending on your driving conditions and usage. For safety reasons, replacing your donut tire after six years of use is best.

Before replacing your tire, consult with a professional and authorized tire retailer. They can assess the condition of your donut tire and recommend the best replacement option.

If you need a new donut tire, you can replace it at local auto services, tire stores, and dealerships. They can provide an estimate before starting any work, informing you of the cost and time frame associated with the replacement. They can order one for you if they need to get what you’re looking for in stock.

When Should You Avoid Driving on a Donut Tire?

A donut tire is a handy temporary solution for unexpected flat tires. However, it is essential to remember that they are not designed for prolonged use, as they lack the necessary tread and support for medium and long-term driving. Driving on a donut tire for an extended period, such as on long road trips or high-speed freeways, can overheat your engine and is not recommended. Also, donut tires should only be driven up to 50 miles, as excessive wear and tear can result in accidents. To ensure maximum highway safety, replace your regular tires immediately.

How to Properly Store a Donut Tire

Properly storing a donut tire when not in use is essential for maximizing its lifespan and ensuring safety. Here are several suggestions for proper donut tire storage:

  • Clean the tires with a soft brush or cloth to keep them dry and free from dirt and residue before storing them.
  • Store the donut tires in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures to prevent cracks or warp on the rubber surface.
  • Check for any punctures or damage before storing it away.
  • Cover the donut tire with a protective cover when not in use to trap dust, dirt, and other contaminants that could shorten the tire’s life.

Tips for Safe Driving on a Donut Tire

Driving on a donut tire can be risky and should only be done in emergencies. Here are some tips for using donut tires when driving:

  • Control your speed by maintaining a safe speed to lessen accidents. Spare tires may not have the same traction capabilities as fully-functioning tires, so moving slowly ensures maximum control while on the road.
  • Ensure enough tire pressure by filling the tire with air up to the recommended level indicated in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Check for wear on the tire, as any cuts or bulges can decrease its grip on your car.
  • Ensure the donut is inflated correctly and the tire is secure before beginning your journey. Lower your speed by 10-15 mph and avoid sharp turns and sudden stops to maintain the balance of your vehicle.

Final Thoughts

Driving on a donut tire can be a lifesaver when you find yourself stranded on the side of the road. However, it is crucial to avoid prolonged use on highways and to take necessary precautions while driving, such as controlling your speed and ensuring enough tire pressure. The best solution is to regularly check your tires for wear and tear to avoid finding yourself in this situation in the first place. By following these guidelines, you can arrive at your destination safely.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.