How far can you drive on space saver tyre


In the past, cars would come with a full-size spare wheel, but as car manufacturers strive to cut weight to meet emissions targets, these are often replaced by a space saver wheel as a spare - or left out altogether as new research from the RAC suggests less than 3% of new cars sold in the UK now comes with a spare wheel.

So, what are the rules for driving on a space saver tyre? Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden takes a look at what the space saver tyre is capable of and how to ensure safe motoring.

A space saver spare wheelDo you know the rules around space saver spare wheels on your car?  (Credit: Michael Sheehan)

What are space saver spare wheels?

Space saver wheels are the emergency spare tyre option fitted to many cars that can be used in the event of a puncture or damaged wheel. The wheel and tyre is typically much thinner than the car's usual running gear.

Are they safe for use on the road?

Space saver wheels supplied by a manufacturer with a vehicle are legal for use on UK roads. They are also safe to use - as long as drivers understand how they work and adhere to restrictions that apply. Such tyres are not suitable for continued use in place of a standard wheel and tyre.

What is the maximum speed for a car with one fitted?

There is no maximum speed limit for a vehicle fitted with one of these spare wheels, but they should all come with a speed restriction marked on them - typically 80km/h or 50mph. Check your owner's manual for full details.

How far can I drive with one fitted?

There are no official regulations that dictate how far you can drive with a space saver fitted to your car. However, 50 miles is considered to be the maximum that can be safely driven while using one.

The spares have less tread depth on the tyre, and this will also wear away faster than on a standard tyre because of its narrow width.

Drivers should also be aware that tread depth rules apply to spare tyres of this type in the same way as they do to standard wheels - so driving with less than the legal requirement will leave drivers open to being fined and given penalty points.

Handling ability will also be hit, with the car’s cornering grip reduced by 10-15 per cent.

Is it legal to use them on a motorway?

It is perfectly legal to use a one of these wheels on a motorway, but travelling at 50mph is likely to put you at risk. Try to stick to the left-hand inside lane as much as possible.

Try to avoid driving on motorways when a space saver wheel is fitted to your car.

Can they be used on the front and back axle of a car?

Some vehicles have restrictions on where the thinner spare wheels can be used - this could be due to braking systems etc - so they might only be permitted for use on the front or back axles. Check the vehicle's handbook before fitting.

No more than one such wheel and tyre should be fitted to a car at one time.

Will the car's handling feel different?

If you keep to the speed restriction for the wheel, you should not notice any significant handling problems, but exceed this speed and your vehicle is likely to have severely restricted cornering and braking capabilities.

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Remember to check your spare wheel's air pressure regularly

Like all wheels with pneumatic tyres - as most of these wheels have - space savers can also leak air from the tyre. So, avoid the possibility of a dangerously under-inflated spare by checking the tyre's air pressure at regular intervals.

Can I take my MOT with a space saver fitted?

If you present a car for an MOT test with a space saver wheel fitted, the vehicle will fail. It is also worth remembering that your spare wheel will not be looked at during the vehicle's MOT test - so you will need to regularly check it yourself.

Can I take my driving test with one fitted to the test car?

You cannot take a UK driving test if you have one of these spare wheels fitted to the car being used for the practical test. 

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Author: Pete Barden

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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