Spare tires are not only useful but can also be a great aesthetic. If you’re looking to add to the sleekness of your vehicle, consider a spare tire cover for your mounted spare. Commonly seen on off-road vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler, these covers protect your spare from the harsh effects of the sun and the weather. Read on to find the best spare tire covers available.
Why Buy Spare Tire Covers?
- Protection from sun damage. A spare tire mounted to your vehicle is exposed to a lot of harmful UV rays that can wear down the finish on the rim and degrade the rubber tire. A spare tire cover blocks these rays so the tire remains protected.
- Protection from the elements. Frequent exposure to dirt, wind, rain, cold, and heat can be detrimental to your tire. This can cause the weakening of the rubber and cracks in the sidewall, making it less structurally sound. A spare wheel cover will help to minimize this damage.
- Anti-theft. When your spare tire is covered, there’s an extra deterrent to would-be thieves. Hard covers, in particular, offer great protection, thanks to hard-to-open latches.
- Customization. Since spare tires come in a variety of sizes, it’s important to get the right fit to keep the elements out and your tire protected. Beyond the right fit, it’s sometimes possible to customize the materials of the cover, from shiny vinyl to a glossy, hard shell.
Types of Spare Tire Covers
A hard spare tire cover is made of a rigid material like stainless steel or molded plastic. These covers come in two parts: a faceplate that covers the front of the tire and a ring that wraps around the spare, locking in place with a clasp or latch. In terms of protection, these provide the maximum amount of security. Hard covers also have the bonus perk of looking very sleek.
These covers use soft vinyl and wrap around the spare tire from the front, tightening in the back with an elastic cord or rope. The higher the quality of the soft cover, the more likely it is to include an interior felt pad that offers extra protection. Most fabrics for soft covers are UV- and weather-resistant. They also come in a wide variety of designs and colors to match your vehicle. Compared to hard covers, however, they are less durable and will fade faster.
Founded in 1999, Fremont Die continues to be a market leader in spare tire covers. From their headquarters in Williamsburg, Virginia, they design covers that are well-made and durable, featuring a number of popular sports teams. Top products include their NFL Covers and their Kansas City Chiefs Cover.
An online-based distributor of great automotive accessories, you can find many custom options with this brand. They’ve produced more than 20 million protective covers, with their most popular products being the White Vinyl Cover and the Black Ultra Tyre Gard.
Tire Cover Central
Based in Erlanger, Kentucky, Tire Cover Central makes high-quality, custom tire covers to suit many different needs. In business for over a decade, their materials are durable, and their designs are state-of-the-art. Bestsellers include the Flippin’ Frog Premium Cover and the Wolf and Moon Cover.
Spare Tire Cover Pricing
- Under $20: At this price range, you’ll find a small number of lower-quality tire covers that are mostly made from thinner materials. If you’re looking to keep your tire protected from the weather, we recommend investing a little more into a better cover.
- $20-$50: In the midrange, you can find a variety of high-quality products with premade designs and colors. The materials used are more durable to improve the overall protection of a spare.
- $50 and above: In this price range, custom and hard shell covers, which tend to be the most expensive available, are common. They’re often worth the extra cost, however, since they offer the best protection from the elements and look great aesthetically.
Size matters! Both soft and hard shell tire covers need to fit properly onto your spare tire, so make sure you get the correct size for your tire. Check the wall of the tire for a number that looks something like this: 225/75/15. This number will tell you the exact size you need.
Spare tire covers come in a variety of durable materials, most of which are weatherproof and UV-safe using white colors. Soft covers tend to use heavy-duty vinyl material, while hard shells vary; many are made from a combination of stainless steel and hard plastic.
Depending on the type of cover you select, the closing mechanism might be a simple elastic band sewn into the hem or a more secure metal latch. The former is more common on soft covers, which may also have strings that need to be tightened to fit around the spare. Hard shell covers tend to have clasps or latches.
- Inside layer: Most wheel tire covers come with an inner lining. High-quality options often have a lining made of fleece to protect the tire from damage and the cold. Ideally, this lining will be the perfect fit for the wheel so it doesn't get loose.
- Warranty: It’s a good idea to choose an option that has a stellar warranty so you can get a replacement or a repair if something is wrong with the cover. Typical warranties run about a year but can last two or more, depending on the manufacturer.
Best Spare Tire Covers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Spare Tire Cover Tips
- Replace your spare tire cover as soon as it shows signs of wear to keep your spare protected from the elements.
- Measure for a hard shell cover by checking both the width and circumference of your spare. These extra measurements are important so the shell fits tightly around the spare without any room to move.
- Check your spare tire cover at least once a month to see if there are any moisture or mildew problems. If you do see some issues, give the tire a chance to dry and use a new cover to keep it protected.
- Maintaining your spare cover is simple: Hard shells can be washed and polished, but make sure you don’t use a cleaner that’s too abrasive. Soft covers can be wiped down with a damp cloth to get rid of any dirt or spots and then left to dry.
- If you live in an area with a lot of sun, a light-colored tire cover is best since it will reflect more light rays than dark covers. This will help keep your spare in good condition, as dark colors tend to retain more heat and “cook” the tire.
Q: How do I check if I have the right cover size or not?
A: It’s actually pretty simple: The inch measurements on a spare tire cover give the tire diameter. Measure your spare’s diameter and pick the appropriate size from the manufacturer.
Q: How do I measure the size of the spare tire?
A: Easy! You can check the numbers printed on the tire’s sidewall, which will tell you the diameter. You can also measure the diameter from the bottom to the top of the tire.
Q: How do I install a hard shell spare tire cover?
A: Hard shell covers come in two parts: the outer ring and the faceplate. Start by placing the ring around the spare. Then, maneuver the faceplate into position. Lock the two pieces together and close the clasp or latch on the ring for a secure fit.
Q: What type of fabric should I choose for a soft cover?
A: Vinyl is always a solid choice, but anything that is durable, waterproof, and UV-resistant will work. If you’re worried that a soft cover won’t be enough, check out hard shell covers instead. They offer the best protection for your spare.
If you’re looking for the best spare tire cover out there, we recommend the ADCO Vinyl Tire Gard Wheel Cover. It features a great, high-quality design and is an ideal pick for most vehicles.
Looking to save a bit of cash? Then the Classic Accessories Overdrive Universal Fit Spare Tire Cover might be the way to go. It’s sturdy, sleek, and comes at a great value price.