Interesting Facts About Donut Spare Tyre

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Back in 1996, I was 7 years old kid traveling with my family. Our Daihatsu Charade G-11 got a flat tyre and we had to pull over to the shoulder to fix it. I was one of the only two male family members in the car so I started helping my uncle with changing flat tyre. When we opened the boot, I was surprised to see that slim, compact size tyre with yellow rim. After we fixed it and resumed our journey, I asked my uncle so many questions, like why that tyre was smaller than others, why don’t they provide standard size and much more. But he didn’t know much about the cars so he couldn’t answer my questions.

20 years later, it was a Friday afternoon and I was driving back home when an elderly man flagged me down for help. He had a flat tyre and his jack was not working so I decided to help him with changing tyre. I opened the boot of his Toyota Vitz and there I saw the same compact size tyre, which reminded me of that car trouble we faced in 1996. We replaced flat tyre in 5 minutes and I started driving again. After I reached home, I did some research and found some interesting facts about it. Here’s what you should know.

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Standard size spare tyre is provided with locally manufactured cars (PKDM) and donut tyre comes with imported cars. You may find it interesting that Pak Suzuki’s Cultus has the same size spare tyre but JDM Toyota Vitz comes with a donut spare tyre. There’s been remarkable increase in compact size tire usage in the past few years. Full size spare tire now comes only with 4×4 SUVs, bigger vans and pickups in most of the countries.

One tyre, different names: The correct global name of this spare wheel is, “donut tyre”. Sometimes they also call it “space-saver” but Pakistani tyre technicians call it “Japani Stepney”. Although some automakers provide full standard size 5th (spare) tyre but many opt for smaller spare tyre for some reasons.

It’s made for space saving: Smaller cars have very tiny boot, a standard size tyre is much bigger and leaves very little space for luggage. That’s why automakers provide this compact size spare tyre. This could be very helpful for CNG converted car owners, who have to keep spare tyre under the gas cylinder.

Donut tyre is lightweight: This makes tyre changing easier and the other advantage is that it reduces a car’s weight, which helps in improving fuel economy. A few extra kilograms in the boot do increase the fuel consumption.

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It’s cheaper than regular tyre: Modern car tyres are very tough so we don’t get flat tyre very often. Therefore, the spare tyre may runs less than 100 kilometers per 10,000 kilometers. So the automakers provide this tyre to cut the costs.

Now you know that space-saver or donut tyre is made to cut cost, car weight and to save space in the boot but is it safe and reliable to use this fragile tyre before you find a tyre shop? Here’s what you should consider.

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Maximum Speed: The maximum recommended speed limit for this space-saver tyre is 80 km/h. Don’t drive fast after replacing your flat tyre by space-saver wheel.

How far can you go on donut tyre? It is for temporary use only. The tyre has very little tread which wears out in no time. Driving safety experts suggest that you should not go beyond 125 kilometers on donut tyre. You should visit the nearest tyre shop to fix your punctured tyre or get a new one if it’s burst.

Poor Braking and Handling: Please keep this in mind, you’re driving with 3 standard and one donut tyre, which is more like a motorcycle tyre. This means your braking system is less effective and handling is poor. Be careful with braking and avoid taking sharp turns at higher speeds.

60 psi is the safe air pressure: You should frequently check your spare tyre for low pressure. 32 psi is good for normal tyres but the experts recommend 45-60 psi as safe air pressure range for the donut tyre, because low pressure can damage it. Be careful, don’t exceed 60 psi as it may explode and cause an accident.

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Should I get a standard size spare or donut tyre is good for Pakistani roads?

The answer to this question depends on where and how you drive. If you are being careful and driving in big cities with good road network then you should not worry about donut tyre’s performance. You rarely get flat tyre on clean roads and you can easily find a tyre shop within a few kilometers in urban areas. However, it is not recommended to rely on spare donut tyre while traveling on motorway or high speed suburban roads. We also recommend you to carry a standard full size tyre if you have to travel on bad roads, as donut tyre is not designed for off-roading.  If you drive in city most of the times but have to travel on motorways once or twice in a month, it’s better to purchase a same size spare tyre, but don’t dump your donut tyre. You can carry a donut tyre in city and keep a full size spare tyre in the boot for long trips!

Sultan Kiani

I’m a car enthusiast and Toyota Land Cruiser J-70 is my dream car. I like talking about all kind of vehicles including small hatchbacks, pickup trucks, classics, green-tech engines, buses and commercial trucks. I advocate “Mass Transit for Islamabad-Rawalpindi” for greener tomorrow. You can call me an “environmentalist” because I have a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science!

  • Ammar

    We blame our automakers for cheapening out. Well you won’t find a more shameless and more dangerous way of cheapening out than these Japanese automakers with these bicycle tyres. What if you’re on the motorway and you get a flat? Are you going to drive from Islamabad to Lahore at 80km/h? Or are you going to remove all your luggage and passengers because this bicycle tyre can’t handle the weight?

  • Fazal Wahab

    humm.. all new BMW’s even don’t come with a spare wheel. All new modern luxury cars are mostly equipped with run flat tires. Mean in case of flat you can drive around 50 miles and max speed of 40 to 50mph… You can keep a flat repair kit in your car as some cars also comes like that. So donut is still better than run flat which cost more to fix also the upfront price of the tire itself is much more than regular tire.

  • Guest

    “…carry a standard full size tyre if you have to travel on bad roads…”

    And since we have nothing but bad roads, so this is one place where PKDM carmakers went right.

  • Guest

    “new modern luxury cars” are made to fleece their customers. In which one small things goes bad and the whole car becomes a heap of scrap.

    And other countries’ infrastructure is much better therefore a flat tyre is an oddity. But here the roads seldom get cleaned, all sorts of debris viz. construction debris, glass pieces (from previous accidents) and what not is strewn on the roads.

  • Ubaid

    If you are on motorway and get a flat, you change the tyre with the donut tyre and drive to the next service area and get that flat tyre repaired and move on with your journey. 🙂
    Btw, most of you may already know this but Honda Vezel doesn’t come equipped with any spare tyre. My cousin learned the hard way . On his way from Islamabad to Karachi, one of the tyre burst on the highway after he crossed hyderabad. The tyre shops on the highway doesn’t have the size required for this vehicle so he had to go back to hyderabad and buy the new tyre and come back on local transport. The cost him more than 3 tyres and trouble for his family as well.

  • Ubaid

    * cost him more than 3 hours. 🙂

  • Ammar

    If you get a flat on a Motorway chances are there won’t be anything left to repair. So you’ll be travelling all the way to Lahore or Karachi on those cycle tyres.

  • Muhammad Umar

    I was coming from Naran and got a flat, you can say Tyre was actually burst.. and no Tyre shop can repair Tyre.. Thank God I’ve the full Tyre and I came from Mansehra to Lahore 600KM. If I have that slim tyre how can I make it I have my family with me and car have weight. There is no logic for that bloody yellow donus tyre.. all lodics are fail.. Companies just saving their money…

  • Muhammad Umar

    I was coming from Naran and got a flat, you can say Tyre was actually
    burst.. and no Tyre shop can repair Tyre.. Thank God I’ve the full Tyre
    and I came from Mansehra to Lahore 600KM. If I have that slim tyre how
    can I make it I have my family with me and car have weight. There is no
    logic for that bloody yellow donus tyre.. all lodics are fail..
    Companies just saving their money…

  • Muntasir

    Some of the statements are very funny.
    1- You can save space with this tyre. Where did you put your flat tyre afterwards, You need the same space as your standard tyre size.
    2- You can install CNG and then can remove your Donut tyre easily. Then how did you put your flat tyre back in trunk (As long as you are not going to through it away:).
    3- Actual use of this tyre is not mentioned. Now with modern tubeless tyres people like to carry repair kits and tyre inflaters/Sealers. It takes five minutes to seal and inflate a tyre with disposable kits (Its a bottle with sealer and compressed air, you just need to attached it with air valve). So then why this cheap donut tyre? It is mandatory by law to keep a spare tyre in the car. So this cheap tyre is just to fulfill the law requirement.

    P.S Sorry for my bad english.

  • Muntasir

    And please
    @Sultan Kiani: “Toyota Land Cruiser J-70” is not a CAR.

  • Sultan Kiani

    But Suzuki Swift comes with the same “space saver”, am I right?

  • Sultan Kiani

    Can we call it an SUV?

  • Sultan Kiani

    No sir, your English is better than mine!
    Let me answer your questions:

    1: Lets say you drive 1000 kilometers, how many times do you get a flat tyre? May be less than 10 KM per 1000. Then putting a standard tyre in packed boot sure is a problem but at least you can “save space” until your luck runs out.

    2: You can place the standard wheel anywhere in the car, just like the badass taxi drivers do! Again, it’s the same as question no.1

    3: Some cars particularly those made for EU, Japan and Singapore etc do have that emergency repair kit and NO SPARE TYRE at all. But there’s a problem, what if one of your car’s tyre BURST? Although it’s very rare but does happen. And you’ll be helpless if the puncture is very large as well.

  • Sultan Kiani

    Run-Flat Tyre is the latest technology and it works well most of the time. However, it’s quite expensive because you need to equip all 4 tyres with run-flat mechanism. It is the safest solution to deal with tyre trouble because sometimes it’s very dangerous to change your tyre like on motorways where fast moving traffic can kill you!

  • Sultan Kiani

    That’s why I recommend motorists to carry a full size spare for Motorway trips and save space savers for urban commutes. Btw you don’t have to (and should NOT) drive from Lahore to Islamabad on this “motorcycle tyre”, service areas have basic auto repair services available.

  • Sultan Kiani

    Disagree, service areas do have basic auto repair services available and tyre shop is one of them. I won’t carry on my journey on motorway even if I have replaced it by a standard size tyre because it could happen again!

  • Sultan Kiani

    If you drove it from Naran to Lahore with a burst tyre in your boot, it was your big mistake. What if another tyre goes flat, you’ll be helpless. So please don’t repeat that mistake again, if your tyre is gone, you need to get one as soon as possible because it can happen again!

  • Sultan Kiani

    Honda Vezel is a small “SUV” so technically they should give a full size spare tyre. I can imagine the “double trouble” your cousin’s family faced, first they barely escaped an accident after tyre burst and then they have to wait for 3 hours to get a tyre replaced. Stopping in middle of rural highways is not safe and it’s worse when you’re driving with family.

    Tyre repair kit is not always useful for Pakistani road conditions. If they had purchased a spare tyre from day one, it’d take just 5 minutes not 3 hours to replace the burst tyre.

  • Muhammad Umar

    The Tyre changed was in very very good condition, But at that time not possible to repair a burst tyre. But if I have that donut tyre it is even more risky to travel in mountain areas. So continuing argument is not good I may not reply further, you know a donut tyre is not a good decesion and may be it is a money saving from company or what ever. A similar Tyre like all 4 is good to use as stepney tyre. and you have to repair the other tyre as early as possible.
    From the last 4,5 years I’ve never listen from even a single person about this tyre to be good except this article very first time. It means… you know it..
    Thank you for the response…
    Take Care
    Allah Hafiz

  • Ammar

    What I’m saying is that if you get a puncture at 120-140km/h the tyre will be shredded. There won’t be anything left to repair. I know because it has happened to me.

  • Muntasir

    It was just a joke :). Stay happy.

  • Muntasir

    1- Yes you are right, with tubeless tyres we hardly use the spare. In small cars donut tyre can be used to save the space. But in cars with boot capacity more than 500L (Honda and Toyota) it is wise to have standard tyre (my own opinion others may differ).
    2- I spend a long time in Vienna (Austria). Here people also keep a spare tyre, but like to use the repair kits because tyre shops are quite expensive. One of my colleague told me that it is mandatory by law to keep the spare.

    P.S Nothing personal, Keep it up with nice reviews.

  • H__3

    First well written piece I have read on Pak Wheels

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