What do I do with a flat spare tire?

On the way home today, my front passenger tire blew out. Ouch. Sucked. I pulled off to the shoulder and lucked out when one of the tollway courtesy patrol vehicles stopped to help. Very nice man swapped my flat tire for my spare. Only, the spare was flat.

It all worked out. I have towing covering, and I bought the warranty for lifetime repair/replacement. I was just three hours late getting home.

I did ask at the tire place if they could fix the spare. They answered with a definite no.

Now, was this because fixing spares is a heinous task they wish to avoid at all costs? Or is it literally impossible to fix a spare tire? And whatever the answer is, where do I go from here? Who does repair spares? Or sell them?

Also, please feel free to include your wretched flat tire stories. You know they’ll make me feel better.

Go to your dealership… that’ll sell you a new spare, swap spare tires, etc.

You could ask for a second opinion but your original tire place should know definitely because that is what they do. Many tires can be repaired and tire shops are happy to do it for a fee. However, some types of damage like excessively large punctures, rips, or sidewall damage will prevent a responsible repair. You probably need to buy another spare, have a tire shop mount it, and pay the relatively modest disposal fee for your current one. All of it probably won’t cost more than $100 or so but you would be foolish not to have a good spare on hand. Because it is a spare, you could probably just drop it off and pick it up or they may be able to give you a new one in a few minutes. Not all tires can be repaired.

Full size spare tire or small temporary ‘donut’ spare tire? A full size spare should be fixable, a donut may not be worth it. A tire shop might have a used tire in decent shape that you could buy and use as a spare.

Ear-lie in the morning?

It’s one of the little wimpy spares, and he hadn’t seen it when he gave me a categorical negative. So, I think I’ll be heading to the dealership.

Is there any use in carrying a can of fix-a-flat, as one friend suggested?

What was the cause of the flat in your spare? Was it because a 1/4" nail was stuck in it? Or was it because it was a few years and had been subjected to extreme heat for half of that time? I note you’re in Texas.

Fixing a puncture wound that is not gaping and in the tread is a pretty doable, but fixing compromised rubber? I don’t think so.

I know America’s Tire Center and their family of co’s. will fix tires sold by them for free, or for a nominal charge if they did not sell the tire. It is not so much a profit center for them as it is a way to build goodwill so that when you need four new tires you will think of them first.

Well, last time I used it was more than three years ago, out in the desert in California. I suspect it’s a weathering issue, as the tread looked fine to my admittedly amateur eye, and I didn’t see anything sticking out of it. And, yeah, I’m in Dallas, so, that little donut’s been cooking in the trunk of my car for at least the five years I’ve owned my car.

Are you positive that the spare tire is damaged at all, and not just deflated due to not being checked in years?

I ask because it sounds like the guy at the tire shop didn’t actually see it, and so was relying on your say-so that it was damaged. Spare tires are often hard to access, and may go a long time slowly leaking down unobserved.

Take it to a service station and fill it with air. See if it holds pressure for a few days. If so, you’re good. If not, head off to the dealer for a new donut. (I’m betting you don’t have room for a full-size spare.)

Hmmm. Something to think about. I told him it was flat. I didn’t make a guess as to why. I did ask him if he could fix it. I guess I’ll try inflating it before anything else.

We have a winner. When I was in the shop, I saw flat spares all the time, because many guys don’t check the pressure in them when they do an oil change.
Follow silenus’ advice and put air in it and see what happens.

If the tire is irreparable, and depending on the vehicle’s tire/rim size, I’d put an ad in the local car mag/check ebay/check with a junkyard and try to get a full sized rim. If the vehicle is common you should be able to find one fairly cheap, then have a bottom shelf tire mounted it and not have to worry about the distance/speed limitations of the dummy spare. Of course you would run the risk of spending days/weeks without a spare at all…

-Incensed, who sincerely believes the individual who thought up the ‘dummy/doughnut’ spare should be summarily executed.


In any decent sized burgs are “tire shops”. No, not the ones that are connected to a major brand, these are more likely in a poorer section of town. They sell retreads, and used tires, inlcuding some which are really nearly brand new. Call around, one will have a replacement for your spare.

In SJ Calderon Tires (many locations) handles this business niche.