Is it Safe to Drive with a Donut Tire? | Autance

A donut tire has long been an important part of the emergency kit of a vehicle. Over the years this…

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Is it Safe to Drive with a Donut Tire? | Autance © Is it Safe to Drive with a Donut Tire? | Autance

A donut tire has long been an important part of the emergency kit of a vehicle. Over the years this simple, unassuming little device has allowed thousands and thousands of stranded drivers to complete a quick repair and get back on the road.

Because these devices are normally tucked away out of sight, they are seldom seen apart from in a genuine emergency situation.

Because of this “out of sight, out of mind” state that they exist in, many people will have only a rudimentary understanding of donut tires and how they work.

In this article we’re going to answer some of the questions we get asked most often about these devices, starting with:

Is it Safe to Drive with a Donut Tire?

The short answer to this question is yes.

The longer answer is still yes, but there are a few qualifying points to add! So yes whilst it is perfectly safe to drive on a donut tire, you should always bear in mind other questions, such as:

How Far Can I Drive With a Donut Tire?

To answer this question we would strongly suggest pulling out the owner’s manual that came with your car. In there, amongst the cooler pieces of information like the engine capacity and how the shiny touch screen radio works, you will also find some information about your donut tire.

If you don’t have your owner’s manual (if you’ve lost it or bought the car used perhaps) then don’t worry. Just know that as a rule of thumb, 70 miles is the maximum distance that you should be driving on your donut tire.

Provided that you don’t exceed this limit then you should be fine. Also bear in mind that it’s not a case of driving up to 69 miles and then using that mythical last mile to replace the donut with a regular tire.

Get it changed out for a regular tire as soon as possible!

How Fast Can I Get Drive on a Donut Tire?

Another question to bear in mind with these devices is how fast can you drive using one. Luckily, you don’t need to drag out the owner manual for the answer to this question. Simply take a look at your own donut tire and we are pretty sure you will see a range of stickers plastered over the sidewall all clearly displaying the maximum speed.

If for some reason there are no stickers, or if you are merely curious and don’t want to actually drag your tire out for an inspection, there is a general answer here too.

As a rough and general guide, donut tires are not designed to exceed 50 MPH.

Stay under that speed and you should be fine!

Will Donut Tires Affect Vehicle Handling?

One of the things that is the most immediately obvious when looking at a donut tire is how thin it is when compared to the other tires on your car. Obviously, there is a reason for how thin it is, and it is certainly a design choice from the manufacturer.

In an ideal world you would be able to simply pack a full size tire in your vehicle. Then when you have a have a flat tire or a blowout you can simply pop the new tire on, and carry on with your day.

Of course, in an ideal world we would also be married to Jessica Alba and someone would have invented the calorie free Buffalo wing.

In reality, the donut tire is much smaller than a regular tire so that it can be easily stored in the vehicle. That’s helpful, because it’s better to have a small tire than no tire at all. But it does also mean that you need to take extra care when driving.

Because the donut tire is so much thinner, it has a smaller footprint than a regular tire. In essence, this means that less of the tire is in contact with the road surface at any one time.

This will also, by the way, affect braking performance.

So brake gently and take corners and turns slowly.

The Bottom Line

The answer to this is a big yes, provided you bear in mind what we have discussed above.

Just remember that ultimately the donut tire is only ever designed to be used as a very temporary short-term repair. So don’t drive too far on it, don’t drive too fast on it, don’t brake too heavily and be gentle in your handling of the car.

Bear all that in mind and the donut tire will do exactly what it is designed to do.


  1. How to Change a Tire – WikiHow
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