Towing with a Space Saver Tyre

Mar 14, 2005
The question has been asked several times in this forum whether it is safe to tow with a space saver tyre. I have just come across a test report in the latest issue of the German CARAVANING magazine where they tested such a configuration. A Volvo V50 and a Toyota Avensis Estate, both towing a 1400kg caravan, were used as the test objects and the space saver tyre supplied with the respective car fitted at the rear. Both outfits were driven at 80kph (50mph) and then subjected to a deliberate swerve simulating hazard avoiding action. The result for the Volvo was surprisingly good. The amplitude of the swerve and recovery time for the sway to die down were only marginallly worse than with the standard tyre. Only at 100kph (60mph) did the car perform significantly worse with the space saver tyre. However, the Avensis was considerably worse with the space saver tyre even at 80kph and it wasn't tested at 100kph (also because its space saver tyre was only rated for speeds up to 80kph).

The reason given for the noticeably different results for the two vehicles was that the Volvo has a radial-ply space saver tyre and a harder suspension setting than the softer Avensis with its diagonal space saver. Another surprising result was that the Avensis was equally worse whether the space saver was fitted at the front or at the rear.

The testers pointed out that braking performance suffered significantly because ABS does not work effectively with a space saver tyre fitted. This is due to the fact that its rolling radius is smaller than the standard tyre.
Nov 6, 2005
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Under UK law, a tyre must have the same size and construction as other tyre(s) on the same axle of a motor vehicle.

In theory a space-saver tyre is illegal in the UK, under any circumstances, as it will be a different size, by definition.

However no test case has yet been brought before the courts and their use as a "get-you-home at reduced speed" seems to be accepted by the police and highways agency.

Common sense gives two "rules"

1 - Only drive on a space saver for the minimum distance to get to a repairer - don't simply complete a 400 mile journey!

2 - limit speed to 50 mph solo and even less when towing.

The legality of space-savers is significantly different in other countries - their laws / rules should be checked if travelling abroad.


Mar 14, 2005
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The Spacesaver tyre is NOT a "Get You Home" device. It is simply a Get You to the NEAREST tyre depot to get the main tyre repaired or replaced.