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Old 10-08-2018, 09:01 PM   #1
nc_ron
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Default Exploded donut spare wiki

I knew I had a mint condition spare in the trunk and never paid it much attention other than checking the pressure once a year. Then the day before leaving on a road trip into the boonies I went to check the pressure and found that the tire had suffered a blowout while in the trunk! A little searching on SaturnFans found multiple threads with many reports of this failure. With this post I will extract the crucial facts from these posts and add some additional information.
The weird thing about my research was this: the T115/70-14 size compact spare was widely used from 1995-2005 (but apparently is not in current production). An incomplete list of applications is 95-05 Chevy Cavalier, 95-06 Nissan Sentra, 93-05 Honda Civic, 93-97 Toyota Corolla, Saturn SL, and 95-05 Dodge Neon(T125/70). Yet, all the reports of tires exploding in the trunk were on Saturns. There are three possible explanations:
1. Only Saturn drivers talk about stuff like this.
2. Most of these cars used a Goodyear T115/70D14, not Saturn's Firestone T115/70R14. Take note of D14 versus R14. The "D" is for diagonal - it's a bias ply tire, not radial. Intuitively, one might expect the bias ply tire, with 2-ply nylon sidewall to be less susceptible to static blowouts than the 1-ply sidewall on the Firestone Tempaspare.
3.OnLineBiker [post 2255120,postcount 58] reported in his post that he had observed several blowouts - always on the side of the stowed tire next to the muffler. That's exactly where mine was. In fact, I had to use wire cutters to untangle the tire from the stowed jack. The evidence that heat from the exhaust is at least a contributor to these failures is strong. That being said, the wisdom of using a full-size spare in direct contact with the right wall of the spare tire well is questionable. Did Saturn purposely put the jack on that side to push the spare away from the muffler?

So, here's what I did:
I went to my local Pullapart, where I had found over forty cars on the lot from the list above. In 20 minutes of checking trunks I found over a dozen good tires and one exploded Firestone. I bought the newest Goodyear T115/70D14 tire I could find, from a 2004 Cavalier, for $11.95 .
In a previous thread OldNuc had suggested stowing spares with reduced pressure, and carrying a tire inflator to top them off when mounted. That seems rational. OldNuc seldom gives bad advice. I went to Harbor Freight and used a coupon to buy a 12V tire inflator for $6.99 . (It's pretty rinky-dink. It was straining at 60psi - and the gauge was about 10psi optimistic. If price is no barrier, HF has better inflators. Be sure you have the specified 20amp fuse in the fuse block. I had a 10amp and the pump blew it in a couple of minutes.)
I mounted the Cavalier tire on my Saturn rim and inflated it to 30psi. I wrapped the inflator in bubble wrap and put it under the wheel. After clamping down the spare, I stuffed fiberglass insulation between the tire and the right side of the well.

Use as much of this as you find credible, and disregard the rest. Frankly, I suspect just using the Goodyear bias ply tire would eliminate the problem, without any additional measures. Im convinced this is a Firestone problem, not a general indictment of compact spares.
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Old 10-08-2018, 09:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

this is interesting and never heard of it happening here in Canada. I've owned the same 2000 SL2 for 19 years, same spare, it was taken out of the trunk once. Must be the heat issue in Southern US hot temperatures.
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Old 10-08-2018, 09:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

The reason you can not find the T115/70R14 tire new is they were prone to failure regardless of manufacturer. This is due to the thin sidewall and excessively high pressure. That and people trying to drive 500 miles at 75mph on them. The cross ply tire will be much tougher and a reduced storage pressure will help. The OEM pumpkin muffler was also highly efficient in reducing exhaust gas noise and turning it into heat. Probably an aftermarket muffler would solve the problem. I still have the OEM tire in my car, I should take a look at it sometime. It may have blown up while I was not watching.
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Old 10-08-2018, 09:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

I like the idea of keeping the tire under inflated and using a 12V tire inflator to top it off, but can the cigarette lighters in our Saturns handle that? I'm too lazy to "Fix" the F5 problem so I've just been careful about how much power i draw from it instead. Maybe a tire inflator draws less amps than I think but it seems like it would be a lot.
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Old 10-08-2018, 10:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

My donut blew out during the rebuild. I got the right size from tirerack.com.
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Old 10-08-2018, 11:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebins View Post
I like the idea of keeping the tire under inflated and using a 12V tire inflator to top it off, but can the cigarette lighters in our Saturns handle that? I'm too lazy to "Fix" the F5 problem so I've just been careful about how much power i draw from it instead. Maybe a tire inflator draws less amps than I think but it seems like it would be a lot.
Yes the 12V outlet can take easily handle a tire inflator i have used it several times to top off my tires and pump the spare. I tend to switch the engine on..so as not to drain the battery if i am running the 12v air pump for long.

Last edited by tizan; 10-08-2018 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 10-09-2018, 12:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

I hacked off the power outlet adapter on my 12v inflaitor to give it battery clamps like jumper cables use. Probably would be smart to add a fuse to the power line, but it works fine as-is.
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

Interesting, thanks for an informative post.

Never had a problem in my '98 SL2.

My '02 did not have a spare (it had the body-seam leak in the rear quarters, so the spare tire wheel well was a swimming pool). I fixed the leak and moved the '98's spare tire and jack over to my 02 - but noticed later that a previous owner had cut off the heat shield over the muffler on my 02.

The heat shield in intact on my '98. Wonder if that is a contributor (heat soak when you park) - and like OldNuc, wondering if my spare has blown up lately
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

Is here a way to check tread wear on the spare? They have so little even when new I was never sure if the same rules as a normal tire apply.
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Old 10-09-2018, 05:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebins View Post
I like the idea of keeping the tire under inflated and using a 12V tire inflator to top it off, but can the cigarette lighters in our Saturns handle that? I'm too lazy to "Fix" the F5 problem so I've just been careful about how much power i draw from it instead. Maybe a tire inflator draws less amps than I think but it seems like it would be a lot.
Using that cigarette lighter for a power port is a very bad idea. Clip off the plug and convert to direct battery connection.
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

This is the tire I bought. I changed it myself using motorcycle tire tools.

https://m.tirerack.com/tires/tires.j...170924131058:s
Here is page 4 of that thread:
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...t=60735&page=4

I recently cut up the old tire to dispose of it.
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:45 PM   #12
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

You bought the cross bias replacement that has much stronger sidewalls.

I really need to check my spare and see if it has blown up ...

Last edited by OldNuc; 10-09-2018 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 10-09-2018, 11:16 PM   #13
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

I still have OEM and as of 2 weeks ago was still A-OK. 98 sl2 thats lived mostly in TX amd and NC. Even cut off part of muffler heat shield a little less than a year ago to put hitch
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:29 AM   #14
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

If your spare isn't broke, fix it some more! Great tagline jhonky, I like it!

My spare was pristine when we started our rebuild April 2017. I used to use it for tire rotation, so it was not locked in place forever. When it started to go, it unraveled fast. We have not looked at the Kuhomo since. I figure it should hold for at least 18 years.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:18 AM   #15
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

Quote:
Originally Posted by gveinot View Post
this is interesting and never heard of it happening here in Canada. I've owned the same 2000 SL2 for 19 years, same spare, it was taken out of the trunk once. Must be the heat issue in Southern US hot temperatures.
It's colder up there.

I have been using this unit for years (and many uses) with the cigarette lighter socket - it's small and slow but it eventually gets the job done -

Top off inflator 716281003974.jpg

$10.00 at Target back when I bought it. Even recommended it to a co-worker and she used to top off a leaky tire for years as well. (I know because I did the topping off for her)
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:52 AM   #16
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

What I have observed is that such blowouts are caused by overheating. On each I' ve found - the exhaust heat shield had been removed.

So in hot weather, at extended periods of slow speed driving - temperatures get high enough to destroy the spare...
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:34 PM   #17
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

Do not forget the parking under a cloudless sky as inside car temperatures increase out of sight. The radial tiny spare probably fails at something like 100psi sustained pressure and when you start at 60psi @ 72F it is not a hard pressure to exceed.
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Old 10-12-2018, 12:55 AM   #18
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Wrench Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

This happened to my SC2 a while back too and it was a Firestone.
The car did have the heat shield installed and was always garaged (even at work) day and night, so the weather probably wasn't much of a factor.
Basically the steel cords became delaminated and so it ended up with needle-sharp shards sticking out just waiting to impale my hand and a rip in the rubber carcass.
I'm surprised it didn't push out a window or the sunroof when it went.
So I bought another one at a local pick-n-pull for $10 or so and carried it around in the car just barely inflated (5-10psi) to keep the bead sealed.
I purchased a small HF compressor and tucked it into one of the wells at the side of the trunk.
It had battery clamps BTW, not a cigarette lighter plug.
That combination survived for several years and went with the car.

After having that happen I have done the same thing on our other vehicles.
At least the ones that have spares.....

P.S.- Different subject but I am helping the new owner install a cat on it Saturday.
So it is coming home for the day.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:20 AM   #19
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Default Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

Even with 60 psi ( 4 atmospheres) there is nowhere near enough volume in a spare for a blowout to cause any pressure damage. The car simply isn't sealed well enough either.

An 80 cubic foot scuba tank full ( 3000 psi) on the other hand would make some rapid modifications .....
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Old 10-13-2018, 12:06 AM   #20
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Happy Re: Exploded donut spare wiki

Yes, of course you are right.
I did once have a tire sidewall let go on a trailer parked outdoors though and it sounded like a shotgun blast.

Anyone want to volunteer their car for a scuba tank test?

I thought not....
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