Can You Put A Spare Tire On The Front [In Emergency]

Can You Put A Spare Tire On The Front

Many cars on the market are front-wheel drive, making it questionable sometimes if you should use a spare tire in the front.

The spare tire in this case is the donut tire, which is generally smaller than the other tires. Will it still work great or it could lead to a few issues?

It is possible to fit a spare tire on the front but it should only be the case when there are no other options. You are also advised that you not drive as fast as you usually do.

The aim is to get you to the nearest tire center and have the normal tire fixed before driving the car at a high speed.

Potential Problems of Driving with Donut Tire

Driving the car on one smaller tire for long distances is often not recommended. That is why we have to look at some of the potential problems why this should be avoided.

1. Wheels

Consider that on one side of the front axle you have a smaller tire than the other. This means that these two tires are not spinning at the same time. The smaller tire needs to spin a lot more compared to the other tire just to keep up.

The differential is important for helping keep these tires driving properly when going in a straight line. As you can see, there will be more strain on the differential leading to more wear than what is expected.

2. Differential

The unequal rotation of the tires basically confuses the differential. The confusion in this segment means that it will lead to more fatigue of the different gears of the differential.

In the differential, you will have tongue and groove gears. When there is so much unequal rotation of the tires, it can lead to potential grinding and wearing down of these gears. That is how you may end up with more metal shavings in the diff.

You may also experience overheating of the car’s differential fluid. The overheating makes it start breaking down thus becoming ineffective in terms of lubricating the different parts.

By now you should see why it would be important to have the flat tire fixed to minimize the damage to some of the parts of the car.

Below is a video on how a differential works.

Tips for Driving on a Donut Tire

Your spare donut tire will be the most common option in many modern vehicles in the market. Some cars even just come with a tire repair kit. Now that we have mentioned it is possible to use a donut tire, it is important to know how to drive on it properly until your normal tire is fixed.

Here are ideas for you to consider.

  • Make sure that the donut tire is properly secured to the vehicle using lug nuts. This helps in ensuring that the tire can remain working well generally.
  • How about the speed? You definitely need to take note of the speed that you are driving. Keep your speeds less than 50mph. So, it might not be the best for highway speeds.
  • You should not drive for more than 70 miles also on the same tire. This can lead to excess wear of some parts.
  • Get your smartphone to locate the nearest tire shop from where you are located. A good tire shop will help you fix the flat tire and get back on the road.

Tips for Buying Donut Tires

The donut spare tires are not created equally. You might be used to the small ones, but just know you have many options to consider still.

Below we look at tips for you to use for buying a new donut tire.

Get spare tires with a similar diameter as other tires

Most of the time the donut tires would be just a small size, however, you can get larger donut tires too. Look at the diameter of the other tires and get a spare tire with the same diameter.

Using tires with the same diameter is important to avoid risking the stability of the car.

When looking to buy a spare tire, you will get the size charts. Look at the chart to find the appropriate size so that you can understand which one works best for you.

Spare tire limitations

Spare tires are generally narrower than normal tires. Because of such, they would largely have restrictions on how fast you can go and the distance too.

Most spare tires would have a limitation of 50mph. However, some might have improved design that allows you to drive faster. Make sure to check if the manufacturer has any additional limitations you should know about.

As for distance, you are supposed to keep it under 70 miles. At least with 70 miles, you can always get a tire center to repair your flat tire and get back on the road.

Go for premium tires

It is possible to come across cheap and premium tires. Make sure that you get can differentiate the two and find the right one for your budget.

Notable brands making these tires include Bridgestone, Pirelli, and Continental. These would largely be expensive, but you can still find good quality tires from other brands. Just make sure to do enough research to avoid cheap tires.

Below is a quick video on driving on a spare tire.

Since retail has been modernized, it is possible for you to get some high-quality donut tires even online. This includes AutoZone, Tire Rack, and Discount Tire. Even if you are buying online, ensure you are always getting quality tires.


Is it possible to drive over 50mph on a donut tire?

It is possible to drive over 50mph but it is not recommended. This is because the tire is not designed to work at high speeds compared to the other tires on the car. So, keep driving at low speeds until you get to a tire shop.

How long will tires last?

The tires will only last long if you continue taking good care of them. This includes proper alignment, tire inflation, and more. Also, be easy on the accelerator. Hard braking and accelerating can wear the tires faster.

Should you put the donut tire on the front?

Yes, it is possible to use the donut tire even for a front-wheel-drive car. However, many cars have more weight at the front because of the engine and transmission, so make sure to repair and replace the donut tire as soon as possible.


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