Although you likely know that your tires need proper care, including rotating and pressure checks, if can be easy to overlook your spare. Whether your car comes equipped with a full-size spare tire or simply a small "donut" tire, you want to make sure it is ready to perform when you get an unexpected flat. Make the following part of your regular routine to ensure your spare is ready when you need it.
Tip #1: Check the pressure
It's a good idea to check the pressure of your spare at least once a month. Air can slowly seep from a tire while it is stowed away in your spare tire compartment. Heat can add to this issue, since it can cause the air inside the tire to expand and speed leakage. A digital tire gauge makes the check quick. If you don't know what pressure the tire should be at, check the sidewall of the tire. The information is typically printed there in raised lettering. If you don't see it there, look in your owner's manual.
Tip #2: Tend to the rim
Rusty spare tire rims can be a problem, especially if you have an outside-mounted spare that is subjected to road grime and moisture. Not only is the rust and corrosion ugly, it can compromise the integrity of the rim. When checking the pressure, look for any signs of rust. You can scrub off small spots with fine steel wool. Then, apply a rim sealant over the rim to prevent the rust from coming back.
Tip #3: Add it to your rotation
Uneven tire wear can be hard on your car. It can cause pulling as you drive, throw off the balance of your vehicle, and eat more gas. For this reason, it is important to include your full size spare tire in your regular rotation schedule. This way it will wear at the same rate as your other tires. If you have the temporary donut-style of spare, this step isn't necessary. Instead, check with the manufacturer to find out the average lifespan of the tire. It will need replaced at the end of the recommended span, since the rubber does degrade over time.
Tip #4: Keep it covered
This only applies if you have a spare that is mounted outside of the car, such as underneath or on the rear door. Make sure you keep a cover on the tire at all times. Covers are for more than just looks. They protect the tire from UV radiation, which can break down the rubber. They also provide some protection from road debris, which could pierce the tire. The last thing you want is a flat tire, only to discover your spare is also flat.
Talk to a tire shop in your area for more help. Visit http://www.evanstire.com for more information.