It is very important to have a spare tire when off-roading. The reality is, we have no idea what situation we will find ourselves in that day. Making decisions and paying attention to preventative maintenance ahead of time will help your success in case of recovery.
One of the decisions you have to make when replacing your tires, is, if you are going to purchase a 5th tire as a spare. Of course, that would seem like the natural decision to make, especially when it comes to an off-road vehicle. Why should it be?
Tire sizes can vary both by width and by height (In this instance, we are assuming that the wheel size and hubs are the same, that is a different article!). There is a small window of sizes that work safely for recovery purposes, roughly a 3% change in size for cars and 15% change for SUVs, trucks and Jeeps, according to TireRack.com. However, even within this window, effects are felt in the steering, braking, acceleration and overall drivability.
If you have a tire (in this instance, a spare) that is different in width than your other tires, you will notice the difference while turning and braking. If you have a spare tire that is different in height, you will notice the difference during acceleration and while steering.
Charlene Tip: It is also noted if you have a different tire with different tread the tire will work differently than the others potentially pulling more or not giving the traction the rest of the vehicle is receiving from the tires. It is important that your spare tire also matches the tread of your normal set.
When you perform your regular vehicle maintenance routine, it is important to include checking the air pressure of your spare tire. Most off-roaders have air with them, and tend to take this check for granted knowing they could fill it when it is needed. It is important to include this step in your pre-check to ensure that you have a functional spare with you. It is beneficial to know if your spare has a leak so that you can figure out why and fix it ahead of time. There may be a problem that you can solve before it becomes a situation that keeps you from recovering yourself from the trail.
5 Tire Rotation
Rotating off-road tires is very important (we will explain why in a different article). When it comes time to rotate your tires, consider incorporating your spare tire. This will help wear it consistently with the rest of your tires. If there becomes a time when you do need to utilize your spare, having the tire worn to similar tread depth will decrease the possibility of driveshaft damage.
Spare Tire Replacement
According to the BFGoodrich Tires website: While most tires will need replacement before they achieve 10 years, it is recommended that any tires in service 10 years or more from the date of manufacture, including spare tires, be replaced with new tires as a simple precaution even if such tires appear serviceable and even if they have not reached the legal wear limit.
The date when a tire was manufactured is located on the sidewall of each tire. Consumers should locate the Department of Transportation or DOT code on the tire, which begins with DOT and ends with the week and year of manufacture. For example, a DOT code ending with “2204” indicates a tire made in the 22nd week (May) of 2004.
Spare Tire Mount
Do you have the appropriate tools to take your tire off the spare tire mount? Have you looked at the mount lately to make sure that it is free of grime and rust? If you have a spare tire cover on, have you looked at what is under it? We will assume that you will be on the trail with additional people that can help you get the spare tire off, and the damaged tire back up onto the carrier. If not, do you have a plan for that? These are all great notes to consider when looking at your current spare tire carrier, or as you are considering purchasing a replacement spare tire carrier.
Time to head out to your vehicle and inspect your spare tire! Does the size match? What is the date of manufacturing? Check the air pressure and look at the way the spare tire is mounted on the vehicle. Do you have the tools to be successful? Lastly, look at the opportunity to do a 5-tire rotation during your next scheduled maintenance. No one ever wants to use their spare tire. If the time does come, let’s make sure it doesn’t add to the drama of the day!
Author: Charlene Bower
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