Are All Spare Tires The Same?

Spare tires for a car are essential for your vehicle’s safety and convenience. But what can you do if you do not have your spare in your vehicle, or your spare is flat, and you have a puncture on one of the tires on the car? Can you borrow a spare tire from somebody to put on your vehicle to get to a gas station?

Each spare tire differs in size and weight and is specific to its vehicle’s model. Differences in size, weight, and lug-nut positions make spare tires only suitable for the intended vehicle. They are not interchangeable or universal.

Not all spare tires are created equal; there are differences between manufacturers and even between car models from the same manufacturer. Using a spare tire not designed for your car can be a dangerous practice resulting in disaster.

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What Types Of Spare Tires Are There?

There are essentially five types of spare tires produced for motor vehicles of various kinds. First, the car’s manufacturer decides on the spare supplied with the car. Then, they will design the storage space for the spare wheel according to the kind of spare tire to be included with the vehicle.

The spare tire in your car is generally designed to work safely with your vehicle’s particular make and model.

Using a spare tire on a car that it was not designed for can be a dangerous undertaking that can result in an accident or damage to your vehicle.

Full-Size Matching Spare Tire

In larger vehicles that have the necessary space, a full-size spare is included in the car. A full-size matching spare is a spare tire that is the same as the other four tires on the vehicle.

It will have the same size rim, height, and width tire and be a replica of the other tires on your vehicle.

The advantage of this type of spare tire is that it does not impact the safety of your vehicle when you drive with this spare installed. It will perform on the road precisely the same as the other tires on the car.

As a result, you can travel at average highway speeds on a full-size matching spare tire when you fit this tire on your car. In addition, you can leave the spare tire on the vehicle long-term, and you do not need to go straight to a tire repair shop to get the flat repaired.

The disadvantage to this spare tire is the space it takes up in the vehicle and the added weight to the car, affecting fuel consumption over a long period.

The full-size matching spare tire is the only spare with a level of interchangeability. For example, a car of a different make and model could use a full-size spare tire if it has the exact tire size and the same lug-nut configuration.

However, this should still be done with caution and low speeds to avoid unforeseen complications.

Full-Size Spare With Non-Matching Tire

A car equipped with a full-size spare with a non-matching tire will affect your vehicle’s performance when using the spare.

The tire may be a lower profile than the other tires on the car, or the tire may not be as wide as the original tires.

The compromises on the size are to reduce the packing size of the spare tire so that it fits in a smaller compartment in the car than a full-size tire would.

A full-size spare with a non-matching tire will have performance implications when installed on the car as a replacement. You will need to be conservative with your speed because of the spare tire’s different performance, road handling, and control compared to the other three full-size tires on the vehicle.

It would be best if you did not use this spare tire on a vehicle that is not the same make and model that the tire was intended to be used on.

Full-Size Temporary Spare Tire

Another type of full-size spare tire is the temporary spare. This tire has the same height as your standard tires, but the rim is made of a lightweight material for weight reduction of the spare. It may, however, not have the exact width of the tire, having less rubber in contact with the ground than your regular tires on the car.

While the size of the tire should not pose any problem to the ABS systems on your car, the wheel is not as robust as the standard wheels on the vehicle, which is why this tire is called a temporary spare. The tread on the tire is also shallow compared to your other tires, making it suitable only as a short-term interim solution.

These tires should be restricted to vehicles of the same make and model as their intended vehicle since the wheel’s stresses may damage the spare wheel when placed on a different car.

You cannot drive long distances at highway speeds with this spare. Instead, you should reduce speed with this tire on the car and go straight to a tire repair shop to have the original tire repaired or replaced.

Spare tires are problematic if you are towing, mainly if it is a heavy load. If you have replaced a tireOpens in a new tab. with this spare when you are towing, you should reduce speed even further and make it a top priority to get to a tire repair shop to get your main tire fixed.

Donut Or Compact Spare Tire

A recent trend in spares for car tires is a compact spare tireOpens in a new tab., colloquially referred to as a donut tire. These tires are significantly smaller than the standard tires on your car and are generally inflated to much higher pressures than your regular tires.

Smaller tiresOpens in a new tab. can affect the handling of your car on the road and the effectiveness of braking and braking systems such as ABS. Most manufacturers recommend that 55-mph is the maximum speed you should travel with a donut fitted.

Manufacturers make compact spare tires to particular specifications designed for that make and model. Consequently, these tires are not interchangeable with any car other than a car of the same make and model.

The advantage of this type of spare is that they take up very little room in the car’s trunk and add very little weight to the vehicle.

A donut spare is more commonly found on smaller cars such as sedans and hatchbacks. A smaller spare is impractical on larger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks.

Folding Spare Tire

The word “folding” may give the wrong visual image of this type of spare tire. The correct terminology would be a collapsible tire. The tire is small and compact, similar to a donut spare, but takes up even less space due to the collapsible characteristics of the tire.

The tire is storedOpens in a new tab. in its compartment in a deflated state, and the tire’s sidewalls allow the tire to compress to a smaller circumference.

The advantage of a folding spare is that it takes up the least amount of room inside the car, but the disadvantage is it is a little more complicated to use.

The tire must first be inflated with a compressed air canister, often supplied by the car manufacturer, or a small compressor or air pump.

These tires are for minimal use and are intended to get you directly to a tire repair shop to have your flat tire repaired. Therefore, it would be best if you did not drive around with this tire fitted on your car.

These tires are very vehicle-specific and often included in luxury sports cars such as Porche due to the extreme lack of space in these vehicles for a spare tire. They should never be used on a different car.


In the early years of automobiles, manufacturers standardized on wheel sizes, and spares were always a full-sized spare. However, as car designs have changed and manufacturers have sought to stand out, there is very little standardization across car manufacturers, even where spare tires are concerned.

This has resulted in spare tires not being the same for all cars. The consequence is that there is very little interchangeability of spare wheels between vehicles.

This lack of interchangeability is across manufacturers and different car models from the same manufacturer.

The safest driving option is always to use a spare tire specifically designed for your make and model car!

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