Monday, May 17, 2010

Tire Replacement Tip - Keep A "Spare"

It is very desirable to have matched sets of tires on your car. Keep them properly inflated, rotate every oil change, and you're all set. No ground-breaking tip there. The tip involves overcoming certain situations that might foul up your plans.

Time was, if you had a flat tire, you could replace it with your full-sized spare. This would give you plenty of breathing room to get the damaged tire fixed, or figure out your replacement strategy. But unless you drive a Jeep or full-sized van, your spare tire is going to be a "donut"--a very small tire that is rated for only enough mileage, at sub-highway speed, to get you safely to a service station. You can't drive around on it all week while the tire place awaits a shipment of your desired tires.

That's where the problem lies. A tire gets damaged beyond repair (maybe because it has already been patched before), and now you may have a quandary. If the remaining tires have significant tread on them, like maybe 10,000 miles, you might not be ready to run out and replace all of them. You would like to do a one-off replacement for the interim. But you don't want to buy a brand-new tire for that purpose.  Or, maybe you are ready to replace all the tires, but the shop doesn't have your desired tires in stock--it could be a 2-4 day wait. What do you do?

In the last 5 years, I have found myself in each of those situations. The answer is to save the best tire from your previous set, and use it as a spare. Unless you are: A) Running your tires down to the nibs before changing; B) Both utterly fanatical and very lucky, and have totally even wear--there will be at least one of the four that is in quite serviceable shape. Keep that as a spare, and hang it up in your garage.


  1. That is a GREAT idea, thanks.

  2. Yeah, I put it on Lifehacker, too. You would think maybe the shops would suggest it? Nah, never.