Can You Drive With A Spare Tire On The Front?

The front axle is the steering axle in most vehicles. The ability to steer the car is one of the driver’s primary responsibilities when driving. Even when the driver is the autonomous driving system on modern vehicles, the quality and condition of the tires on the steer axle must always be optimal. Spare tires on modern cars have become obsolete or very specialized.

Fitting a spare tire to the steering axle can be done when no other options exist. The vehicle can be driven at a slow speed and defensive manner to the nearest tire fitment center to correct the condition.

The spare tires fitted to modern cars are often not the same size as the wheel rims and tires the vehicle is equipped with. Manufacturers have been challenged to find weight savings to optimize fuel consumption. The result is that spare tires have become smaller and narrower or are replaced by a tire repair kit. Let’s look at how to change tires should you experience a flat tire on a front wheel.

How Front Wheel Emergency Repairs/Replacement Is Best Done?

It would help if you were well acquainted with your vehicle. Whether you have purchased the car as new or used, you need to read the owner’s manual to learn about caring for the car. Locate the spare wheel and the toolkit and jack that each vehicle is fitted with? Some cars do not have a spare tire and come with a tire repair kit. You will need to know what your car is fitted with and how to do a tire change or roadside repair yourself.

If the tire that you need to replace or repair is on the front steering axle of your vehicle, remove one of the rear wheels and replace it with the spare tire or the repaired tire. Fit the rear tire to the front axle from where you have removed the flat tire, as this is your best option to get yourself to the nearest tire fitment center and have a professional replacement done.

Many performance vehicles have different size front and rear tires, making it impossible to switch a rear tire to the front. In such situations, you may be forced to fit the spare tire to the front steering axle or to repair the front tire using the tire repair kit. Emergency spare tires may be used on the front steering axle but are limited to a maximum speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) and no further than 50 miles.

If you are stuck far from the help, consider calling a roadside assistance service to bring the correct size tire or to tow you safely to the nearest tire fitment center. Where your front tires are affected, you should always be cautious. Emergency tires, spare tires, or tire repairs are only short-term temporary fixes.

How To Avoid Flat Tire Situations

Run-Flat tire technology is well established and proven. Top tire bands all offer run-flat tires as a standard fitment to some vehicles. The run-flat tire is constructed with a thickened and stiff sidewall. When normally inflated, these run-flat tires can function as any other standard tire.

The installation of run-flat tires will allow continued operation even after losing some or all inflation pressure for up to 50 miles (80 km) at a maximum speed up to 50 mph (80 km/h). Hopefully, this should be enough to get you to a safe place where help can be obtained.

If you plan a long-distance trip where you may encounter a tire puncture far away from help, you should take a full-size spare wheel along. You will have to sacrifice some boot space, but it is better to be prepared. Breakdowns on the road where no help is available can prove fatal. Be prepared for all eventualities.

How Do Tire Repair Kits Work?

Tire repair kits are fitted to many European cars as the roadside assistance network is so extensive that it is easy for drivers to call for assistance. In North America, the roads outside of urban areas are much longer, and the nearest roadside assistance may be many hours away.

The tire repair kit consists of a small air pump, a hole opener, a strip threader, and some rubber repair strips. Once you have located the cause of the air leak, remove the nail or item causing the leak using a pair of pliers. Use the hole opener to clean and enlarge the hole where you extracted the nail. Thread a rubber repair strip through the eye of the strip threader until the strip is halfway through the eye of the threader. Apply some rubber cement sealer to the repair strip.

The rubber repair strip is then pushed firmly through the hole in the tire where the air leak occurred and then pulled back, leaving the rubber repair strip inside the hole. Leave about three-quarters of an inch of the repair strip sticking out of the tire surface and trim off the excess.

Connect the air pump to the power outlet (cigarette lighter plug) and the pump air hose nozzle to the tire valve. Pump the tire to normal tire pressure as stipulated in the vehicle owner manual. Test the repair for leaking using some water of spit.

Tire repairs may only be done on the tire’s tread surface, never on the side walls. Sidewall damage is too severe to repair and may result in a tire blowout. The tire carcass does not have enough structure to allow sidewall repairs.

If you can rotate the repaired tire to the vehicle’s rear axle, that will afford you the safest option. Always ensure that you have the best tires on the steer axle of your car.


Driving with the spare tireOpens in a new tab., emergency tire, or repaired tire on the front steering axle is possible, but only as a last resort to get to the nearest tire fitment facility.  The complete operation of the front tires is essential to maintain safe control over the vehicle. Rear wheels can be driven when flat without an adverse effect on the steering ability of the car.

Be prepared for any eventuality and practice tire changes and repairs before you need to do one at the roadside, in the dark when it’s raining.


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