This is how long you can drive on a spare tire

Every driver dreads getting a flat tire, hoping it’s a fate that never befalls them (or their car). But it’s still one that smart drivers must be prepared for. Luckily, most cars come equipped with a spare tire. It comes in handy, and it’s absolutely one of the things you should always keep in your car. But, should you get a flat, how long can you drive on a spare tire?

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Never, ever leave these things in your car
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Never, ever leave these things in your car

Medication

Most medicine should be left at room temperature, but a car will rarely stay at that point when not in use. Heat probably won’t make your drugs directly harmful, but it could make them less effective.

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Electronics

Beyond the expense of the devices themselves, gadgets like laptops, cell phones, and thumb drives contain information that could be easy to steal. If you’re in a position where you have to store your laptop or phone unattended, make sure the information is encrypted, says Eva Velasquez, CEO and president of Identity Theft Resource Center. This makes thieves unable to view information without a code, separate from the password used to log in to the device. “It’s a strong layer of protection and would need someone putting a fair amount of effort into it to view,” Velasquez says. “It’s much stronger than password protection.”

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Sunscreen

Ironically, the active ingredients in sunscreen break down in high heat. Leaving it in the car on a hot day could reduce its effectiveness. Plus, the heat could cause it to explode, leaving you with a hot mess. Check out these things you should never leave in your garage.

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Water bottles

Although the research is a bit unclear, studies have linked BPA and phthalates, chemicals found in plastic water bottles, with health conditions like cancer and heart disease. Letting a bottle sit in the sun and heat up could cause these chemicals to leach into the water. Plus, if the bottle has been lying around for a while, it could start harboring microorganisms.

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Handbags

Leaving a purse or wallet in plain sight makes your car a target for thieves, even if you’ve locked your doors or taken the valuables out of your bag. “It doesn’t matter if the alarm goes off,” Velasquez says. “It’s attractive, and they’re going to grab it.” These are the 12 items you should never keep in your purse.

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Sunglasses

Take advantage of your car’s sunglasses compartment while driving, but don’t leave your shades in it after you reach your destination. Heat can warp plastic frames and make metal ones too hot to wear. Leaving your glasses or sunglasses on the dashboard is even worse because the windshield could attract sunlight like a magnifying glass, American Optometric Association spokeswoman Susan Thomas has said.

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Important documents

If you have personal documents that you plan to mail or shred, make that task a priority on your to-do list. Letting files like school transcripts or tax forms sit in your car while you run other errands or until you have time to take care of them leaves information vulnerable if anyone breaks into your vehicle, Velasquez says. “Put it in the car, take care of it, and then you’re done,” she says. “You have to follow through.” If they don't need to be in your car, leave them at home or in the office—but make sure you know the 9 things you should never keep on your desk.

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Passport

Never leave a passport in the car while traveling, even if it seems like it’s too bulky to carry around. Identity theft is even easier with a passport than with a driver's license, Velasquez says. “We have to think of data and pieces of our identity as valuables,” she continues. “You’re not going to leave jewelry in the car, but we don’t have that same level of concern with things that make up our identity, and we need to.”

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Wine

Wait until after work or errands to pick up a bottle of wine. If the bottle gets too hot, the flavor could be affected, and the liquid could expand enough to seep around the cork or push the cork out a bit, contaminating the wine inside. Don't miss these 14 things you should always keep in your car.

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Well, there are two types of spare tires, and you should absolutely know which type you have since that makes a big difference in answering “how long can you drive on a spare tire.” Some vehicles might include a full-size tire that matches all of your others. “Older vehicles and 4Runners commonly included a full-sized, regulation tire,” explains Jake McKenzie, Content Manager at Auto Accessories Garage. If your car has this type of tire, especially if it does, in fact, match the size and shape of your car’s other tires, you should be able to drive with it for as long as you want (or at least as long as your tires normally last). But you should still make it a priority to get the flat tire repaired so that you’re not driving without a usable spare. And McKenzie still recommends switching it out for the repaired flat sooner rather than later, so that all of your tires have a similar amount of wear—that’s just a safer way to drive. And find out why tires might actually be the most important safety feature of your car.

What exactly constitutes an “older” vehicle? Well, as Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD.com, puts it, “almost all cars of the last 20 years or more have gone to the ‘temporary spare tire.'” This is the type of tire you think of more commonly when you hear the words “spare tire”: a donut tire.

Today’s cars use a donut tire for a couple of reasons. According to Reina, it helps keep the overall weight of the car down, which improves fuel economy. And it’s also just less expensive. But, of course, there’s a major downside to donut tires that makes them a “spare” for a reason: You can’t drive on them for very long. Exactly how long can you drive with a donut tire?

“There should be mileage and speed limitations listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual,” says McKenzie. So if you want to know the exact answer to “how long can you drive on a spare tire,” you should consult the manual. But there is a general range that most car experts agree on: approximately 50 to 70 miles, with 70 as the absolute maximum. To be as safe as possible, stick closer to 50. “The label on the temporary spare…will state to drive no more than 50 miles [on it],” Reina says.

And there’s also a speed guideline to follow as well. You should be driving fairly slowly—both McKenzie and Reina recommend not exceeding 50 mph with the donut tire.

The bottom line is, driving on a donut tire is definitely not ideal, and you should make an effort to have the flat repaired as soon as you can. “[The donut tire] is a different size than your other tires, [so] it will make your vehicle unbalanced and less safe,” McKenzie says. But before you can worry about how long you can drive on a spare tire, you have to know how to change a tire in the first place—it’s one of the car maintenance basics everyone should know.

The post This Is How Long You Can Drive on a Spare Tire appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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