A Driving Instructor's Blog

This is an old article from 2010, but it’s had a run of hits recently. Note that DVSA was DSA up until 2013, when it merged with VOSA.


A DSA (now DVSA) email alert:

Space-saver tyres and driving tests

DSA (DVSA) is getting increasing numbers of complaints from candidates whose test didn’t go ahead because of problems with car tyres.

It’s become a common feature of modern cars to be fitted with a spare tyre or space-saver tyre which is a different size in order to save room and weight

DSA (DVSA) would like to remind driving instructors that any vehicle presented for test must be fitted with:

  • the same size tyre on the same axle
  • tyres that are not subject to speed restrictions

If any tyre is not suitable for the test, the test will not go ahead and the candidate will lose their test fee.

I’m not aware that this advice has changed since 2010, and I’m surprised it was such a major issue when I first published this article. I’d like to think it is just people who turned up in their own cars who are being caught out, but I’m sure that wasn’t the case.

Can I take my test with a space-saver tyre fitted?

No.

Why can’t I take my test with a space-saver tyre fitted?

Space-savers are not the same as a normal tyre (they’re narrower). They usually have a lower maximum speed (on a label on the tyre) of around 50mph, and this poses obvious problems on your test if you go on to a road with a speed limit above that. You could easily be failed for doing 50mph on a 70mph road if it is possible to go faster even under normal circumstances.

Space-savers have less tread even when new, and are usually made from softer rubber than proper tyres. The car will handle differently when one is fitted. The risk of skidding is therefore greater, as is being able to stop in an emergency.

Space-savers are intended for short term use only. You shouldn’t be driving on them routinely.

Can you do lessons with a space-saver fitted?

All I can say is: try to avoid it. I’ve never done it – I cancel a lesson and go and get my proper tyre fixed if I get a puncture at the wrong time.

I don’t think it’s illegal to do it, as long as you follow the restrictions, but it’s still no different to why you can’t do a test with one fitted in most respects. Personally, I think it is unprofessional if you’re compromising anyone’s safety in any way.

My garage is a long way away

Then get a full-sized spare. I would.

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