Full-size spare tire or temporary spare?
It is the least used (if ever) used part on your vehicle, but could someday be a potential lifesaver. The spare tire is meant to be used in emergency situations, but will only prove to be a paperweight if it lacks adequate air.
Most cars and trucks are equipped with a donut tire and rim that are not meant to be driven for longer than 40 to 50 miles. Since you never know where you may end up, perhaps off the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in dead of night, it pays to invest in a full-size replacement.
Choosing Which Spare Tire Is For You
If you do plan to use a donut for their space-saving and lightweight benefits, be sure to carefully read the manufacturer’s stated use. Since these tires have fewer plies (interwoven layers of steel and polyester inside the rubber), they are a lot less durable than their regular counterparts.
As well, just because the spare has been unused for a couple of years does not mean it is going to work perfectly once installed. Slow leaks can be caused from either valve stem problems or other issues. Under no circumstances should you drive a spare tire, especially a donut, with a known leak. The risks of a blowout are increased markedly when a leak is present, so it will be in your best interest to have a local tire shop patch the defect before heading out.
Accessibility and proper gear
While most passenger cars make removing the spare quite easy (simply lift the trunk cover and unscrew the hinge securing the tire in place) vans and trucks have under-mounted spares that can be a nuisance. The supporting hardware is exposed to dirt, snow, rain and all kinds of debris that cause the metal to rust. Spray a lubricant or penetrating oil once a month to help keep the components of the lowering device in good shape.
A scissor jack comes standard in every vehicle, but a 2-3 ton hydraulic model will save you plenty of time during the raising/lowering process, and is much safer. A quality lug wrench or breaker bar will make unscrewing over-tightened lug nuts a breeze, too. Before heading on out on your next trip, take a moment to assess your spare. You will be glad you did.