We often neglect this essential piece of emergency equipment. Well, until an emergency happens, in which case, when you end up getting a flat! What's worse is when you find out your spare isn't ready for backup duty, rendering you stuck in the middle of nowhere at the mercy of a thunderstorm or whatever fate throws at you next. Wouldn't that suck?
As always, we've come to rescue you from a world of trouble by keeping that trusty spare tire ready to roll.
Usually, spare tires for sedans and hatches are stowed right under the lining of your trunk, and are protected from external forces. However, they can still suffer damage from humidity, moisture, and heat. For trucks, vans, and SUVs, the spare tire is commonly attached to the rear undercarriage and is highly exposed to the harsh external environment—regardless if it comes with a cover.
Here are simple steps to follow for spare tire maintenance:
1) Check to make sure it's properly secured and contains the right air pressure at least once a month or whenever you are able to access the spare.
2) Detail your spare once every 1-2 months or immediately after use. Cleaning it allows you to check for abnormalities, cracking, and spotting leaks. Use a quality protectant or lotion with UV protection to prolong the life of the rubber and prevent dry rotting or cracking.
3) To check for leaks, use a pressure gauge and see whether your spare is able to hold its recommended air pressure rating. Add air when necessary.
Using a spray bottle with water/detailer/protectant, liberally wet areas around the lips of the tire (area attached to the rim) to see if you can spot any air escaping. Bubbling is a giveaway when a poor seal or puncture is present. Have it fixed or replaced immediately!
Don't forget to do a leak test on the air valve by drowning the inlet with water to inspect for bubbling as well.
4) For spares usually mounted underneath vehicles, check the mechanism that lowers the tire including the cable and retainer piece. As a preventive measure, spray these parts with anti-corrosive as they tend to easily rust. Oftentimes, the mechanism comes with a lock and keyhole where your ignition or designated key fits right in. That needs regular lubrication as well.
I've seen neglected locks that won't budge open due to severe corrosion. Despite having a perfectly functional spare, being unable to access it just makes it useless, wouldn't you say?
5) Inspect, clean and lubricate tools (such as your jack) used in changing a flat tire from time to time.
As a friendly reminder, spares are for temporary use only. They are designed to get you to an establishment that can properly fix your daily tire so you can put it immediately back in stowage. By all means, don't keep it on for prolonged periods. This is for the sake of you and your passengers' safety.
Love every part of your car and it will take care of you. Happy motoring!