Do You Really Need Two Spares?

Article from: Unsealed 4×4

It’s the question on just about everyone’s mind while planning a trip into the vast Aussie outback; do I actually need to take two spares? Hopefully, with this quick guide, we can look at whether it pays to take an extra or if just the one will do.

How you’ll get punctures in the outback

Punctures that you’d get driving your local tracks are few and far between in the outback. You’re not going to find the busted roots and sharp rocks hanging out the side of the ruts that will destroy your sidewall, but you will find sharp rocks on the roads, and pretty unforgiving tracks out there.

Most dead tyres out the back of buggery are caused either by the sharp rocks on tracks, bad pressures, crap quality tyres, or tyres that are that old the rubber has gone brittle.

Chances are, if you’ve lowered your pressures, and are running solid quality tyres, that are in good nick, and weren’t made when Noah was kicking around; you should be right. That said, making sure you’ve got a good quality spare, and some other tricks up your sleeves, you shouldn’t have too many problems.

Tools to take with you

There’s a couple of things you should have in your tool kit, beyond just a tyre deflator. You’ll need a good quality puncture repair kit, with decent instructions intact, you don’t want to be stuck trying to figure what goes where in the middle of the outback.

Next, you’re likely to want a valve tool – this is to reinsert the centre of the valve if it comes out when you’re letting them down (because you should be letting them down). Be careful though, Wes had an unfortunate occurrence when he first used a fast deflator that removes the valve. He unscrewed the wrong bit, and when he was done, the valve pin went flying across the bush track never to be seen again. Don’t do a Wes!

Is it practical?

If you are going to take two spares when you head out bush, you need to think about the practicality of it. When it comes to 4WDs today, we are always concerned by weight and keeping it down, with most vehicles running perilously close to their GVM when loaded. To add the mass of an additional tyre and rim can prove costly.

That said, if you want to take a second spare, you have three real options. A tyre with a steel rim, a tyre with an alloy rim, or just taking an extra carcass, all of which add different weights to your 4X4. Using rough numbers, seeing as your weights vary depending on size and type of tyre, we found that the average 16-inch alloy wheel by itself weighs around 12kgs whereas its steel counterpart weighs in at the 15kg mark. Meanwhile, a carcass of a light truck constructed mud terrain is about 24kg, so depending on your GVM, how much you pack may dictate what option you can take with you.

The next concern with taking a second spare on your outback trip is where are you going to store it? Most will say either on the roof or on the back with a dual wheel carrier. However, be careful when you do this. Your modern 4WD may not be able to carry as much on the roof as your old GQ or 80 Series, so be sure to consult the owner’s manual. You don’t want to be driving with an overloaded roof concerned about why your head is all of a sudden hitting the ceiling. If you go with option B, lobbing them on the back, then you need to be careful about your weight distribution. On some vehicles, the placement of the rear axle proportionally is worse than others so hanging an extra 35kg+ off the back can cause an unstable driving experience, particularly when off-roading. This can be an especially concerning problem high up on the back of ute canopies with dual spares, as you may end up with a wheelly happy 4X4. Yep, we said it. That’s our dad joke out of the way for this issue!

Tyre Tech

Like most things in the world, tyres and tyre tech have also evolved in the last 10-20 years. No longer are you driving blind waiting for a fateful hiss of air or bang of delamination. Tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are becoming even more readily available and accurate – not to mention cheaper! This means that when driving in the outback if you, unfortunately, do get a puncture you have a chance to pull over and plug it rather than driving on unwittingly till it destroys itself and potentially does damage to your vehicle. The technology involved in the creation of tyres also has advanced, no longer are we relying on just cross plies but instead Kevlar liners and spiral wound construction, along with computer predicted object path design to better deflect protruding risks.

Tyre Condition

One of the most obvious but probably least regarded thoughts when considering taking two spares on a trip is, what condition are my tyres in? If they’re in bad nick you’re raising the odds that you’ll need multiple spares. Before you set off, examine your tyres and see how they look, are they chipped? How much tread depth is left? Are they weathered? How long have you had them on your car, would they be old and hard?

If they look worse for wear and its time for a new set of boots, no matter which tyre is your poison of choice you want to make sure you give it some time before you put them through a beating off-road. Rather than taking stock room freshies off scrabbling up rock faces and pounding across gibbers you want to have them seasoned. Have the rubber get used to the weight, cooling and heating, and give the tyres a period to set before punishing them. This will result in lowering your risk of a puncture.

If you’re mindful about where you stick your four-wheel drive, take the required precautions, have the correct tools and look after your tyres while exploring this vast country of ours, you probably won’t need a second spare. However, if you have the space, the weight, and the capability to do so with ease along with the inclination, why wouldn’t you offer yourself that extra peace of mind? Depending on how remote you’re planning on travelling is something you’ll want to consider too – are you going 100km from the nearest town, or 1000km?

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Comments 7

  1. Sometimes it just comes down to luck. My sister used to travel from Darwin to Maningrida in Arnhem Land once a month for many years and always travelled in a Troopie with 2 spares. Rarely did she need any but one trip she needed to phone for help after using both and getting a third puncture. I have also been in a convoy of cars where two vehicles have each got two punctures on one section of road and on the same side of the vehicle. It was like the one rock punctured both the front and rear tyres. Can not be over prepared when you’re a long way from home/help.

  2. In 40 years of off road travel we have had two punctures – one on the Jeep on a graded road to Peterborough in 1988 and the other on a Campomatic camper coming out of Dalhousie to the Pink Roadhouse in 2003.

    The latter was courtesy of a caravanner who smashed his pole carrier up on the way in and left the sharp bits all over the track – it was hung underneath the drawbar & he was travelling too fast (Marree to Dalhousie in a day with an 18′ van on the back)

    We did the Savannah Way and the Gibb last year and the Canning south to north in June this year then back on the Gibb with no puntures.

    Lucky? Perhaps, but I lower my tyre pressures, drive to the conditions and for the last two years have been running a tyre monitoring system on both the Amarok and the T-Van.

    We are carrying an extra spare on the roof rack on this trip (specifically for the Canning), as well as 2 inner tubes, two puncture kits and a bead breaker but I wish I had left the extra spare at home.

    And three punctures? Suspect you just have to cop the hard work of fixing it out there.

    There is a limit to how much of everything you can carry – even if you drive a Unimog!

  3. If it’s within parameters and you have the ability. Match your tow rig wheels & tyres to your van/trailer.
    I’ve recently done this and it’s just a little percentage gain in usability of your spares and weight.

  4. To me it’s about cost and availability … if your out back a tyre could cost you upwards off $500 we in a city same tyre could only cost $320 .. plus knowing you have another in case is more relaxing than” shit hope I can make it “ ! Some places might not have your size and you might have to wait days for them to ship one in and that’s costly as well..

    1. Understand your comment – but $180 difference for a tyre in the city v country by your reasoning is probably going to be a lot less than the cost of your second rim/tyre plus the extra fuel to move it.

      Let alone the additional stress on the vehicle from the weight – particularly if you hang it off the back!

  5. Earlier this year, my wife and I travelled the Great Central Road from Perth to Alice Springs, spent, visited much of the area east and west of the Alice, including as far East as Ruby Gap. Then up the Tanami to the Purnalulu National Park and thence back to Perth via the Canning Stock Route and the Mount Elvire Conservation Park. We were travelling in a LDV T60 the newish Chinese Ute on the market.
    We set the vehicle up for remote touring. Pop-up camper on the tray, two sat nav/gps units, sat phone, UHF, 3 batteries, two fridge freezers, 190 litres additional fuel, 180 litres water in 3 separate tanks, a 300 watt and a 200 watt solar charge systems and lots of food, tools, spares and books., enough for 3 weeks without re-supply.
    We made the decision to carry 3 spares (Only a Porsche and the MB Sprinter match the wheel centre) as well as two puncture repair kits plus tubes, tyre levers, tyre grease and a bead breaker. The bead breaker attaches to the tow bar.
    We had a sharp rock or piece of steel punch a huge hole through the tread , steel plies and all, just before we started on the CSR, returned to Hall’s Creek and replaced that one.
    A thin (no more than 4mm dia),300mm long spike through a sidewall on the CSR, so a tube into that one and another 2 tyres damaged in remote country, one near Wiluna and one a day’s drive out of each of Menzies or Southern Cross. So we needed 2 spares in the end but were glad to be carrying 3.
    Overkill some may think but we were glad of the peace of mind that those extras gave us while travelling alone and with no ready replacement/loan wheels in a dire emergency.
    We were lucky in that the carrying capacity of the single cab model is 1250KG and weight distribution is easier to achieve with a single cab. All that and well under the GVM.
    On the CSR we went 5 days without seeing another soul and in the area from Sandstone (WA) to Bullfinch, we also went another 5 days without seeing a soul.
    After that trip there is a minimum of 2 spares whenever we go of road.
    As Neville says above, you cannot be over prepared when a long way from home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *