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Which tyre to keep as a spare


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I am about to start looking for 4 new tyres . The existing tyres are as follows


The front ones are 4 years old getting low on tread depth, not near the legal limit though.

The rear ones are 7 years old but still have a reasonable amount tread left on them.

The spare is 7 years old and has never been fitted, it is stored in the dark of the rear locker and is kept correctly inflated.


My dillema is, which tyre should I keep as a spare the existing spare (brand new 7 Years old) or one of the front tyres (4 years old and approximately 4mm of tread left).


I would welcome opinions from the team.


Please don't say get five new tyres, I am already resting in a darkened room at the thought of buying four.




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But why replace 4? Put the 4 year olds on the rear. 4mm tread should be fine.


Have the three 7 year olds properly inspected (this may require them to be taken off the rim to check for cracks between the tread blocks).


If they pass muster, use the spare front o/s, buy one new tyre and fit in place of worst 7 year old on front n/s, and use the remaining 7 year old as spare. If one 7 year old fails, still do as above.


If two 7 year olds fail, fit two new at front and put remaining 7 year old as spare. If all three fail, fit three new, two on front, one on rear n/s to pair one of the 4 year olds on o/s, other 4 year old to spare. Max required: three tyres, but possibly only one.


Monitor the condition of any of the surviving the 7 year olds, with a view to replacement within 24 months, but probably next year, or sooner if they become cracked.


Keep an eye on the tread of the present four year old tyre/s and replace within next three years, or whenever you become unhappy with the wear, replacing the spare at the same time and using it to replace one of the (by then) three year old tyres (probably front n/s).


I know it is received wisdom to have the best tyres on the rear, but I really don't think one, possibly two, tyres with 4mm remaining will degrade roadholding/handling to any significant extent. In fact, I would expect them, in present condition, to perform in the same way as new tyres, albeit they may ride a bit harder due to being fully bedded in.

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Guest pelmetman
Replaced my tyres last year as they were 10 years old but looked fine, overheard the fitter ask the manager if they should go to scrap...................he said no*-)
I still had my 20 year old spare until my nuts fell off at Christmas:D 
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If you plan to have four ‘normal use’ wheels, plus an ‘emergencies-only’ wheel, then it would be logical for the latter to be the unused wheel/tyre you’ve been storing in your rear locker.


The above scenario is similar to that of a car with a ‘skinny’ spare wheel fitted with a much narrower than normal tyre. In such a case the spare wheel would only be brought into play when absolutely necessary (eg. if one of the vehicle’s other tyres punctures) and, once the emergency had passed (eg. the puncture had been attended to) the spare wheel/tyre would be removed and stored back in the car. Although a car’s tyres will normally be changed several times during the vehicle’s lifespan, I strongly suspect that a get-you-home spare (whether it’s been used or not) will never be replaced on grounds of old age.


I’m uncomfortable with Brian’s advice simply because it’s complex. Most people planning to replace a vehicle’s tyres KNOW that the tyres need changing and, although you’ve said that your motorhome’s 4-year-old front tyres still have “approximately 4mm of tread left”, it’s likely that (as is commonplace for front tyres) there will be visible signs of uneven wear.


If you’ve decided to replace four tyres now (and don’t plan to replace your motorhome in the nearish future), I suggest you just do it and bite the bullet when it comes to cost. There’s a strong chance that whatever tyres you choose as replacements won’t exactly match what you’ve already got, which introduces a further complication if your existing tyres were to be mixed with new ones.


I replaced four of my Hobby’s 6-years-old tyres earlier this year. They were probably in a better state than yours regarding tread depth, but I felt that the front tyres were unlikely to provide the grip I wanted in really bad wet weather. The spare wheel had only been fitted to the vehicle for a short period, so its tyre was relatively unworn. The Hobby now has four 2011-vintage Continental Vanco-2 tyres, with a 2005 Vanco-8 as the spare. If I’ve still got the Hobby, say, four years from now and I need to fit the spare wheel in an emergency, then I’ll be aware that it has a 10-year-old tyre on it and drive accordingly. Using that age of tyre in an emergency is a risk I’m prepared to take – if I wasn’t I’d have replaced all five of the Hobby’s original tyres rather than just four of them.

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Due to their stout construction punctures in LCV tyres are rare. ( personal score one in12 yrs and 110,000 miles). A spare only has to get you to a tyre repair facility.


The tyre trade advice for motorcaravan tyres is renewal at 5-6 years due to possible age related deterioration of tyre carcase. There were enough scary stories of blown out 6-7 year old tyres during my ten years as editor of Interchange to convince me. That was despite personal knowledge of some decade old stalwarts.


Best grip on a dry surface is a slick tyre. If you dont believe me watch F1. On a wet road the grooves in a tread act as drains to funnel water away and allow the tyre to contact the road . As the tread wears down the drains get smaller and water is an excellent lubricant twixt tyre and road.


The rate water has to be shifted from under a tyre is in proportion to speed. In the wet slow down a lot if tyre are well worn.


The accepted wisdom for all vehicles is to fit best tyres on the rear and this is especially true on motorhomes on account of the fact that trying to catch 6m + of sideways van due to rear wheel lock up on a wet road is much harder than the straight on skid when a front locks.


If you value ultimate safety or have deadlines to keep, fit 4 new and keep one of the youngest as a spare.


If economy is paramount and fast jouneys rare, switch the fronts to rear for a couple of years,

put a pair of new on the front and keep the unused spare as a limp home option but bin the oldest used ones , good exterior condition is no guarantee and no one has ex ray eyes.


In future have the tyres rotated annually to even up wear.


I practice what I preach and have just fitted 4 new tyres after five years although there was about 3mm left all round after 40.000miles. RWD has its advantages for tyre wear.


Despite RWD I have been stuck ton pitches twice and was looking for M+S but they are in short supply ( possible due to changed Regs in Germany requiring them for winter use and possibly increased demand after recent cold winters)


Finished up with 4 Envoys marked M+S. The look a little more aggesive than previous Vikings that came new as part of the deal when I bought the van and at the time were the cheapest to be found on the Interweb for £68 each


The Envoys cost me £300 all in fitted and hail from China. So far after 1500 miles so good but its been dry. I will report on them from time to time.


Can anyone still awake give the rest a poke.






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  • 2 weeks later...


Thanks for all the advice.


I think I will replace the two rear older tyres next month before we go to France for six weeks then replace the front ones when we get back, they will have another 2000 miles on them by then. Or I may leave it to early in the new year as it will be in storage over winter.


I will keep the old unused spare as a spare, as has been said it will be a limp to the garage job only if I get a puncture.


I rarely go over 60 mph and try not to go out in the rain, I prefer the sunshine. (lol)




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If you're going to park the van over winter after you get back, I think I'd go for replacing the front pair next spring, rather than leave the van standing for several months on the new tyres. Let the old ones take the strain. Besides, it'll help spread the cost.

Only thing I'd add, is to consider getting three in spring, and putting one of the one year olds in the back as a spare then. That way, if you do get a flat you won't be uneasy about an old tyre being put into service, and you won't need to take it off again to resolve your unease.

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