Your Guide to Space Saver Tyres
There was a time when your only solution to a puncture or flat tyre was a roadside
replacement using a bulky spare that took up almost half of your boot. Nowadays there are a few more options including the use of space saver tyres. But what are they? Are they safe to drive? And, are they the right choice for your car?
Read on to find out.
What is a space saver tyre?
A space saver tyre is an emergency spare that can be used as a temporary replacement in the event of a puncture. They are smaller than regular tyres and usually have a bright yellow or orange rim. Space saver tyres are much lighter than regular spare tyres meaning a lower fuel consumption and, as the name suggests, they take up a lot less room in the car boot. They were originally designed for smaller sports cars that had minimal room for a spare. But over recent years space saver tyres have become a popular mainstream option and are even used in some 4WDs.
How do I know if my car has a space saver tyre?
Space saver tyres are notably different from regular tyres. They are significantly smaller in size and are easily recognised by their brightly coloured rims. Their vibrant orange and yellow colouring acts as a reminder to have your tyre properly replaced as soon as you can reach a mechanic or tyre professional.
“Their vibrant orange and yellow colouring acts as a reminder to have your tyre properly replaced as soon as you can reach a mechanic or tyre professional.”
Is it safe to drive on a space saver tyre?
Space saver tyres are a temporary solution and should only be used until a proper tyre can be fitted. They are not designed to be driven over long distances and studies have shown that they may compromise the performance, functionality and emergency handling of a vehicle. This means it is essential that you swap your space saver tyre for a new full-sized tyre as soon as possible.
Safety tips when using space saver tyres
o Only use space saver tyres that are designed for your vehicle
o Always check the condition of your space saver tyre before fitting to your car
o Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and adhere to speed limits, travel distances and tyre pressure.
What are the restrictions for driving with space saver tyres?
While they are a handy solution when you find yourself in need of a replacement, these temporary tyres do come with some limitations.
Maximum speed limits apply
“Typically, space saver tyres are rated at a maximum speed of 80km/h. When your damaged tyre is repaired or replaced, you should fit it on the vehicle immediately.”
At Jax, we recommend that you always check the specific manufacturer information as this speed limit may vary.
Space saver tyres should only ever be used across short distances but they are usually capable of driving up to a few hundred kilometres if required (depending on brand and type). But the best, and safest, approach is to fit them as a temporary solution and head straight to a tyre professional for a full replacement.
What do I need to do if I'm driving on a space saver tyre?
You may notice a few differences in the handling of your car once space saver
tyres are fitted. It may be a little more difficult to control your car when turning a corner, your traction may be reduced and your braking distances could increase.
“Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and adhere to speed limits, travel distances and tyre pressure.”
For these reasons, the most important thing to do when driving on a space saver tyre is to take caution. Always drive within the recommended speed limits and head straight to a tyre shop.
If you’re thinking about investing in a temporary tyre as a back-up for your car, take the time to do some research, understand the limitations and find the right fit. And if you need a helping hand or some expert advice, chat to the team at Jax Tyres.
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The legality of a space-saver tyre can be confusing at times. Australian Design Rules allow space-savers to be supplied with vehicles; however, it is illegal to drive with different sized wheels on the same axle. As per Australian Design Rules, your vehicle’s tyres on the same axle don’t have the same size and aspect ratio and the wheel must not prevent the wheel nuts from fully engaging their studs.
However, the law makes an exception for the temporary use of spare wheels fitted in an emergency.
Other requirements dictate that the driver gets the tyre replaced immediately, drives at a maximum speed of 80km/h and has the wheel painted bright yellow or orange to signify a space-saver tyre.
At Jax, we recommend you check individual state laws relating to the use of space saver tyres as requirements may differ depending on your state.
What’s the point of using a space-saver tyre instead of a regular full-sized tyre?
The idea behind space saver tyres is to reduce the space your spare tyre takes in your vehicle. With modern cars being built to be as efficient and aerodynamic as possible, using a space-saver tyre is a shortcut to reducing your vehicle’s emissions and making them more efficient.
Alternatives to having a space-saver tyre are a full-sized spare tyre, a run flat tyre or a tyre repair kit. So are space saver tyres any good?
Pros of a space-saver tyre:
- Space-saver tyres are more compact than a full-size spare tyre, providing more boot space.
- Space-saver spares are lighter, reducing fuel use and exhaust emissions because your vehicle is more lightweight than with a regular tyre.
- Space-saver tyres cost less than a full-sized spare wheel and tyre. This saves the car manufacturer money, making it cheaper for the car buyer. If you have to replace the spare tyre, this could be a conservative cost option.
- The space-saver has a skinny wheel and is often painted in bright yellow or orange. This is to encourage car owners to quickly fix the flat tyre and return the space saver to the boot or buy a new spare tyre.
- The space-saver cannot travel long distances and must be changed at the earliest opportunity. By doing this, you reduce the risk of being left without a functional spare tyre in the back of your car in the event of a puncture or roadside emergency.
Cons of a space-saver tyre:
- Space-saver tyres have a limited travel distance because manufacturers design space-saver tyres as emergency equipment. The tyres only have a range of 100-450kms before they become worn out and need to be replaced.
- Space saver tyres are only good for speeds up to 80km/h. This could slow your progress to the next town or your nearest mechanic, especially when driving on a motorway.
- A car using a space-saver tyre has reduced handling abilities compared to one with four full-sized wheels and tyres. Utilising a space saver wheel reduces your vehicle’s grip on corners by up to 15%, and it lengthens your braking distance considerably as there is less rubber in contact with the road surface.
- A space-saver tyre is narrower than a regular spare tyre and has a smaller contact area that reduces the amount of traction for the tyre.
Due to the size difference between the space saver and your removed full-size flat, the flat tyre often won’t fit in the space saver’s position, taking up space in the boot or cabin of the vehicle.
- Studies have shown that driving on your space-saver tyre for too long can compromise the performance, functionality and emergency handling of a vehicle.
Whether a space-saver tyre is a good choice depends on personal preference and budget. Space saver tyres are often cheaper, which may factor into your decision. Also, some car boots don’t have sufficient room for a full-sized tyre and are made to be as aerodynamic as possible This makes larger tyres unsuitable in some situations.
If you are unsure which type of spare tyre to use for your unique circumstance, drop into your local JAX tyre store. One of our experts will be happy to advise you and help you find the best solution.
Space-saver tyres are temporary solutions to be used in an emergency, such as impromptu flat tyres. Manufacturers did not design these tyres to be an exact replacement for your full-sized tyre. Instead, they are there to get you to your nearest mechanic safely.
Studies have shown that driving on your space-saver tyre for too long can compromise the performance, functionality and emergency handling of a vehicle.
As a rule of thumb the maximum distance manufacturers advise travelling on space-saver tyres is 80km.
At Jax, we recommend you check the manufacturer’s information for the exact recommended travel distance of your specific space saver tyre, as travel limits may vary.
The short answer is no.
At Jax, we advise you to only fit the space saver tyres provided by the vehicle manufacturer for your vehicle model or use replacement tyres offered by professional mechanics. Provided they match the original equipment specifications.
Before buying a new or replacement space saver wheel for your vehicle, you can go online and find one that matches your vehicle’s make, model and year. Alternatively, chat with your local JAX representative to find the right spare tyre for
The short answer is yes.
If you’re towing a caravan or trailer and get a puncture, it is OK to fit a space saver to any vehicle's axle. However, it would be best if you went straight to a tyre specialist for a repair or replacement rather than attempting to continue on a long journey.
At Jax, we recommend checking your handbook as there might be vehicle-specific advice.
The space saver wheel should be as close to the vehicle’s existing wheel’s diameter as possible. However, they can run within 2.5-3% of the car’s wheels and still drive safely. Remember that these are only temporary solutions to enable you to get to a garage to fit a new tyre.
Going faster may compromise your vehicle's performance, functionality, and emergency handling.
- One of the biggest reasons for a limited speed is that they have little to no tread, making the spare more vulnerable to road hazards and projectiles.
- The tyre is much smaller than the other three, it has to spin much faster to keep up with the moving vehicle.
- Handling and braking is compromised when a space saver is fitted. utilising a space saver wheel reduces your vehicle’s grip on corners by up to 15%, and it lengthens your braking distance considerably as there is less rubber in contact with the road surface.
Typically, space saver tyres are rated at a maximum speed of 80km/h. However, at Jax, we recommend that you always check the specific manufacturer information of your tyre and vehicle, as this speed limit may vary.
Tread depth rules apply to space-saver wheels the same way as they do for standard tyres. In the case of space saver wheels, the tyre is only safe to use up to 80km and at a maximum speed of 80km/h. If you have used the temporary spare tyre for fewer km than this, you can theoretically use it again.
The recommended PSI for space saver tyres is usually around 60 PSI (414k PA).
We recommend that you check the pressure of your spare tyre monthly. Even though you aren't using your spare tyre, the air can still leak. You don't want to be in the situation where you go to use the spare tyre and find out it’s flat.