How does it feel to drive on a donut spare tire?

Donut temporary spare tire

It’s a question that people ask, but really, no one wants to find out the answer. It doesn’t make sense to switch over to your donut or temporary spare tire just to find out how it feels to drive on it.

So, we’ve done that for you. Just not out of choice.

In fact, after our Jaguar test vehicle had a flat tire, it was time to investigate just what it’s like to drive on a donut spare.

Waking up in the morning, I walked out to the car to find the tire was completely flat. The rim was virtually touching the concrete in my driveway. So, not a great start to the morning.

Okay, next step wasn’t to change the tire, it was to grab a coffee. Then called Jaguar’s roadside assistance service. After all, Jaguar offers it for free while the vehicle is under warranty, and this press vehicle was definitely under warranty.

Then, the gentleman from the roadside assist company arrived, asked a few questions about the vehicle and set to work changing over the tire.

When he was done he reminded me that it’s only rated for 50 mph. Don’t travel any quicker. This is the first point you need to know about donut spare tires.

Temporary spare tires are speed limited

Of course, you can try to travel faster than the 50 mph (80 kmh) speed rating, but it’s at your own peril. The rubber is harder and isn’t meant to be spun up at high speed. Because the rubber is stiffer, it’s also more brittle and the last thing you want is a spare tire delaminating and sending you spearing off into the dirt.

And that’s why it’s critical that if your temporary spare is going on the front wheels (they’re the ones doing the steering and handling most of the braking forces) that you must stick to this 50 mph limit. After all, it could very well mean your life.

What does it feel like to drive on a temporary spare tire?

Initially, it doesn’t feel different to a normal tire at all. Setting off from a standstill the only way you can tell is that it’s a touch firmer on that corner, so if it’s a rough road you’ll feel the vehicle jostle a bit more.

However, when you approach your first corner, that’s when things start to change. You can tell that with its narrow footprint it’s not going to handle all that well, but if you tip it into a corner too quickly, the car will move about, especially if the tyre is on the outside where most of the weight is being transferred to.

Instead of wheeling it in at speed, it’s best to remember, this is just a temporary measure, and one that’s designed to get you to the nearest tire shop.

Therefore, take things a bit easier than you would normally and remember that even in long sweeping corners (say, leading onto a freeway or motorway) you can easily reach 50 miles per hour.

The spare tire has tread to enable it to move water away if it has to, but the tread’s composition isn’t designed to run for long distances so it can get too hot and start to fall apart.

Also, when braking it can feel like it is trying to take all the force, so again, slow things down and relax a bit.

Do this and you’ll find that you’ll get to your destination a lot more safely.

How do you change to a temporary spare tire?

We’re glad you asked. Spend a minute or two watching this video where “Meansy” takes you through how to change the spare tire on a Volkswagen Touareg.

About Karl Peskett 435 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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