Got A Flat Tire? A Quick Lesson in Spares

The question we often hear at Golden Triangle Auto Care is, “How long can I run on a spare tire?” Let’s hold that question a moment and ask some more pressing questions.

1. Do you have a spare tire in your car?

2. Do you know where the spare tire is located in the car? (They aren’t always in the trunk).

3. Do you have the tools in your car to change the tire in the first place?

Tire technology has come a long way, making tires longer lasting and more reliable. Chances of a tire simply going flat or blowing out while you are driving is pretty slim. Road hazards are typically the culprit in flattening a perfectly good tire. And because the chances of getting a flat tire are relatively low, we don’t give much thought to the spare tire and tools we need ahead of time.

It isn’t until we are sitting on the side of the road with one bad tire that we assess our readiness for the unplanned event. First, take a look in the trunk or under the rear of the car and locate the spare tire. If you have a newer car, you will likely find the tire with some additional tools. If you are not the first owner of the car, things may have wandered off with the previous owner.

Once you have located the tire, check it out and make sure it is in good condition. If it is dry and cracked, or appears to have been used before, consider replacing it with a new spare. If the spare is a full size tire, and not the small doughnut style, assure the tire is properly filled with air, otherwise you’re replacing a flat with a flat!

Now that you know you have a good spare tire, here are the basic items and tools you should assure are in your car:

    • Jack. In order to get the flat tire off and the spare tire on, you have to get the tire off the ground. There may be a jack in the trunk of your car, included by the manufacturer, but double check to be sure. You may need to buy a jack if you don’t already have one.
    • Lug Wrench. Getting the tire off will require removing four or more lug nuts. Mechanics often use air powered tools to put tires on a car. The lug nuts may be impossibly tight and difficult to get off. While a lug wrench/crow bar combination is good, consider having a t-shaped lug wrench that provide much more leverage.
    • Crowbar or Screw Driver. If your car has hub caps, you will need to remove the cover to get to the lug nuts. This is often done by prying the hub cap off the wheel. A screwdriver or crowbar will assist you in doing this.
    • Towel and Hand Cleaner. Plan on getting your hands dirty. Having a towel, paper towels or wipes with a good automotive hand cleaner will make clean-up after swapping tires much easier.
    • Mat, blanket or sheet. These items help if you need to lay on the ground where you are working to help keep your clothes clean or have to wiggle under the car a bit.
    • Flashlight. Flats don’t always happen in the daylight, so be prepared.

    For those SUV and truck owners who have a full size, spare tires mounted on the vehicle, you’re not exempt. You also need to assure you have the proper tools to replace the flat tire, plus the spare should be rotated with the other four tires on a regular basis. Hanging on the back of the vehicle, the tire will dry out and can suffer UV damage from the sun.

    Now that you are prepared to change the tire, how far can you travel on a spare tire? If you have a doughnut style spare you can go between 50 and 70 miles, and you should not exceed 50 miles per hour. The spare is really meant to keep you moving so you can get to Golden Triangle Auto Care and have a new tire put on the car. Driving on the doughnut, your car will not have the same level of handling or performance, so it is best to replace the tire as soon as you are able.

    Have a question on what you actually have in your trunk, or wondering if that spare is worthy of use when you need it most? Ask the Golden Triangle Auto Care crew to check it out for you the next time you are in for your regular maintenance or service visit.

Contact Golden Triangle Auto Care





1112 North Speer Boulevard
Denver, CO 80204

Store Hours:

M-F: Open 7:30 am Close 5:00 pm
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

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