If your car gets a punctured or damaged tyre, then you may be able to replace it temporarily with what’s called a space saver spare wheel.
These can come either with the car you’ve bought or be purchased separately later.
Spare wheels can prove extremely useful if one of your car’s standard wheels suffers from a puncture or some other kind of damage. A space saver version of a spare wheel has the extra advantages of being lighter and smaller to store, meaning they take up less space in the back of your car and less weight to the vehicle.
More and more manufacturers are preferring to use space saver wheels if the car does indeed come included with a spare tyre as standard or as a chosen optional extra.
The thing to remember though is that in either full size or space saver form, the spare wheel is meant purely for emergency situations only. The purpose of them is to allow a driver to get their car to a repair garage when one of the standard wheels becomes unusable for whatever reason and needs fixing or replacing.
It’s illegal and just an all-round bad idea to try and use a space-saver wheel for general, non-emergency driving. Spare wheels offer less tread depth and therefore less grip than a regular tyre.
They are also only meant to be used when driving at slow speeds. In an MOT test, which assesses a car’s suitability for the road, a car will fail if the wheels are not all the same size. Only dispensation can be given if a spare wheel was fitted purely in an emergency.
Driving a car with a space saver spare wheel in use
Usually a space saver wheel will have a sticker printed on its side which will state the maximum speed you can safely travel while using it. Usually its safest to not travel over 50mph, but some space saver wheel stickers might give a lower figure.
If you can’t find a speed sticker on your space saver, try to keep your speed at 30mph or less.
Even when you’re driving at a slow and steady pace, your car will offer significantly less grip than if it had four regular tyres. Take each corner with plenty of caution and brake in plenty of good time when approaching red lights and junctions. Even more caution will be needed if the weather conditions are making the road slippery.
If you’re towing a trailer or caravan, then doing so with a spare tyre on your car is likely possible if you keep to a low speed. However, we recommend you check your vehicle’s owner handbook as to whether there’s any advice on this scenario.