Spare Tire Cost: The Difference Between Full-Size Spare And Donut

What will you do if there’s a flat tire in the middle of nowhere? That’s really an issue, which needs to be solved quickly.

The spare counterpart kept in the trunk of your car can come to the rescue in that circumstance. It was a donut bought for $200. However, affordable ones are available for as low as 40 bucks.

Meanwhile, one must remember that the performance of the vehicle will be reduced if the replacement counterpart isn't identical to the OEM ones.

Moreover, with the counterpart being replaced, the first task is to find the nearest repair shop.

Spare Tire Cost

Carrying a spare tire in my vehicle, but what is it?

Spare tires are basically replacement counterparts for unexpected flat ones. These replacement counterparts can be the same size and weight as the pre-installed tires on the vehicle.

However, smaller and lightweight spare counterparts are also available. The space you want to get inside the trunk of your vehicle for spare counterparts decides which size you choose to go for.

Even though modern roads are good enough to save you from flat or punctured ones, what's the solution if something happens?

That is when carrying one inside the trunk of a vehicle turns out very crucial.

So, why should one carry a spare tire?

  • If there is an unexpected flat tire.
  • Not to stay in the middle of nowhere.
  • A worthy solution if there's no repair kit available.
  • Getting near to a repair shop.
  • Full-size spare counterparts are the perfect replacement for the original ones.

How expensive are spare tires?

Spare tires can be cheap and expensive at the same time depending on where you buy them from and the size. The cost can be lowered down to $40 and can go up to $350.

Average cost

$130 to $250

Affordable spare tires (Donut)

$40 to $250

Expensive spare tires (Full-size)

$220 to $400

Expert installation cost 

$25 to $80

What impacts the price?

However, the question still remains, why the price is so low and so high when both times they are known as spare tires?

  • Full-size spare counterparts can cost as high as $400.
  • Donut or compact counterparts cost less than $250.
  • The buying place impacts the price.
  • Additional cost if the installation needs an expert.

Choosing spare tire type:

When you are there to get a spare tire for your vehicle, confusion arises between the selection of full-size and donuts.

Full-size spare counterparts are identical to the original vehicle ones. The diameter and weight match the vehicle without reducing the speed or performance.

The identical design and the performance quality allow one to use it as a perfect replacement.

Therefore, the price goes high. On average, a full-size one can cost from $220 to $400 excluding the installation or shipment cost.

On the other hand, compact ones for replacement are called donuts. The compact size takes significantly less space inside the trunk.

Also, it's never a match to the original ones in terms of size, construction, or design.

Consequently, there’s a reduction in the performance section. Moreover, the price stays on the lower side for the donuts varying from $40 to $250.

From where you buying the car:

There are two options to get these tires for your vehicle.

  • Buying from the authorized manufacturer of your car.
  • Buying from a third-party shop.

Choosing the first option means you are going for the expensive option. On the other hand, a third party may offer you affordable options, but having a guarantee may be something you won't get here.

Additional cost:

The additional cost is a key factor that decides your overall expenditure on it.

  • Shipping cost, if bought online.
  • Installation cost if done by an expert.

In case, you have no third-party shops near, ordering online is the only way you have. However, the buyer has to bear the extra shipping cost t to get the delivery.

The extra shipping cost may not be more than 50 bucks.

On the other hand, the expenditure goes to its peak when you can’t have DIY installation.

In that circumstance, an expert in this field will surely charge you $25 to $80 for the installation depending on the vehicle and tire type.

Is there any way to save money?

Two ways are there –

  • Go for a donut spare instead full-size one.
  • Choose local shops instead of online retailers.

The perfect way to save money while purchasing a spare counterpart is to go for a donut spare instead of a full-size one.

Donuts are often half of the price of a full-size one. Moreover, it’s lightweight and compact that leaving a lot of space inside the trunk.

On the other hand, you may not need an expert to install a donut as it's not as heavy as the original counterpart.

Local shops or online retailers?

However, if you don't have any replacement left in the trunk, both online and nearby third-party shops are available at your service.

What will be cost-effective is to go for the local shop option. Online retailers can charge you a bit extra including the shipment cost.

But moving to a local shop means you’re heading for an affordable option to get out of the unexpected situation.

What types of spare tires are available?

Mainly four tire types are available when you are looking for spare counterparts.

  • Full-size replacement tires
  • Temporary tires
  • Foldable tires
  • Run-flat tires.

Have a look at the following table quickly –

Tire types



Full-size matching

Full-size non-matching


Temporary full-size

Temporary donut


Not available 


Not available 
types of spare tires


If you don't want to have a weird look on your vehicle and compromise the performance, the full-size one is the righteous option for replacement.

It's hard to distinguish the difference between a replacement full-size counterpart and an OEM part. The size, weight distribution, and performance are identical here.

However, there're two downgrades of full-size counterparts –

  • Takes a lot of space inside the trunk.
  • Tough to install due to the heavyweight construction.

Meanwhile, matching and non-matching are two more types available here.

The first type is pure full-size that are made for permanent solutions. On the other hand, a non-matching one is lightweight.

Also, it doesn’t match the design of the OEM part and can bring a bit weird look and performance reduction to the car.


For short-time solutions and leaving quite a good amount of space inside the trunk, temporary ones are a good option.

The shallow tread depth design of a temporary counterpart requires extra air pressure. However, it never meets the size of the original ones.

It's basically used to get rid of the current situation until installing a full-size counterpart. The temporary one is mostly known as a donut spare.

Being lightweight, it becomes a lot easier carrying donut tires. However, full-size temporary tires are also available.

Unlike donuts, a full-size one meets the original tire's diameter with lightweight construction.


When you are worried mostly about the space inside the trunk, foldable ones come with a perfect solution.

Just like the name suggests, it remains folded in there taking the least space. However, inflating it before installing is an extra task to do.

Therefore, it may take a bit extra time to get the flat counterpart replaced.


The situation will be worse if you don't have any spare counterpart in the trunk, or a repair shop nearby to replace the flat one.

However, having run-flat tires installed in your vehicle can let you sit back in relax.

The reason is that this particular part will let you drive the car to the nearest repair shop without changing the flat counterpart.

Full-size spare vs. Donut: Why having a full-size tire is important?

Freeing up the cargo space or keeping the balance of your vehicle? This sole question can let you decide whether you need a full-size spare or a donut.

The difference between spare tire (Full-size) and donut:

Full-size spare


Identical dimension to the original ones

Smaller than original counterparts



Comparatively tough to install

Convenient installation

Doesn’t disturb the balance or performance

Limits the speed and distance

Takes a lot of space in the trunk

Leaves a good amount of space inside

For permanent replacement

For temporary solution

Mandatory for trucks and SUVs

More suitable for small cars

Carrying a full-size spare means the vehicle has five wheels. On the other hand, donut never comes as a permanent solution.

So, why spare tires, and why not?

You should go for a full-size spare one because,

  • It keeps the balance of the car
  • Never compromises the performance
  • Undoubtedly, the most worthy option for SUVs and trucks.
  • A permanent solution to the problem.

However, in the meantime –

  • Being heavyweight, it’s hard to install
  • Being heavier, impacts the gas mileage negatively
  • Not a good counterpart for small vehicles
  • Leaves almost no cargo space.

And, why donut and why not?

One can choose a donut instead of a spare one because,

  • Enough space left even after carrying the spare
  • The compact design is perfect for small cars
  • Easy to install
  • Gas mileage isn’t affected.

But the downgrades are –

  • You can only drive up to a certain speed limit
  • Temporary solution until getting a spare counterpart
  • Reduction in the overall vehicle’s performance
  • The useless counterpart for large vehicles.

Is it okay to start the trip without a spare tire?

Safety has to be the main priority when you are driving a vehicle on any track regardless of what type of vehicle it is.

And driving with a flat tire isn't possible unless it's a run-flat counterpart. However, you can take the car to the nearest repair shop to solve the issue.

But what if you are middle of nowhere? Only a spare counterpart can come to the rescue in that circumstance.

Whether it's a full-size one or a donut, you can get the minimum support to reach the nearest repair shop. So, it's the wisest thing to store a spare counterpart in the trunk before going out for any trip.

Read more: Snow tires cost- Snow tire accessories cost

Spare tire vs. regular tire: What are the differences?

Even though spare ones are full-sized, it has distinguishable differences from regular counterparts.


Even a full-size one has a minimum difference from a regular one. However, the donut is a lot thin, small, and lightweight than regular ones.

Construction quality

Our research team has found that most spare counterparts have comparatively lightweight construction. The reason is to get a convenient installation.


Spare counterparts are never meant to be a permanent solution; rather a temporary solution to get the rider out of a bad situation.

Is it bad driving fast on spare tires?

Yes, it’s bad driving fast on spare tires unless it’s not the full-size spare ones.

Donuts or temporary ones are relatively small than both original and full-size ones. Therefore, it's mandatory to maintain safety while driving while it is on as a spare one.

What’s the ideal driving speed?

As for the general rule, the driving speed must remain below 50 mph with a donut on.

What’s the ideal distance to drive?

While you have a donut installed underneath your vehicle, you can drive up to 70 miles with safety.

However, a run-flat tire can go up to 50 miles until finding a replacement counterpart.

Searching for alternatives?

Carrying an extra heavyweight spare wheel may be something you don't like. In that case, there are several alternatives you have to get out of the situation of having a flat tire.

  • Use tire repair kit
  • Self-sealing
  • Road assistance program
  • Run-flat tire.

Patch up the punctured tire with a tire repair kit:

Unless the punctured hole is bigger than 6 mm, you can always patch it up. After patching it up, the next task is to inflate the tire.

However, it's better to keep in mind that patch-up will not help you for a long period. So, better go to the nearest repair shop quickly.

Self-sealing with a sealant inside:

With a sealant inside, self-sealing tires can withstand any odd situation where the tire can get punctured.

Like the strong sidewalls of the run-flat tire, it has sealant inside.

Run-flat tire to support the rider:

It's one of the most perfect additions to the vehicle when you dislike changing the flat tire in the middle of any trip.

It has a special sidewall that allows the car to move on for 50 miles more with a flat tire.

Help from the road assistance:

If not anything, everyone has a common solution to the problem as road assistance.

Not every car has a spare tire, but why?

Even though having at least a donut is necessary, a lot of cars don’t come with one.

Some reasons behind not including one are –

  • It saves a lot of space inside the trunk.
  • Not having extra weight means better fuel efficiency.
  • Small cars are better without this extra weight.

However, our experts’ suggestion is to consider buying a spare tire in case the new vehicle doesn’t include one.

So, get a full-sized donut now

The cost of this replacement part starts from as low as $40, which is on the cheaper side for sure. But the stability of the vehicle's performance is often questionable with this.

Meanwhile, the stability may not be an issue if you’re ready to spend $200 for a full-sized one instead of a donut.

But don’t worry, a donut can still get you out of the problem and make the trip enjoyable again.

That’s why a spare tire sometimes turns out as a savior in the middle of a trip.

Last Updated on August 1, 2022 by j.chuton

Leave a Comment