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Hello All!

I feel stupid for this post but I'm looking for some opinions/input. I'm in my second year with a 2012 I4 4wd RAV. Two weeks after I mounted my General Altimax Arctic winter tires I was looking through the owners manual when I ran across the tire section. The manual stated that tires should all be of the same type, size and tread style otherwise it could negatively effected the 4wd system. Somewhere in the back of my mind I kinda knew this but had forgotten it. So then I started thinking about the spare tire. It's just an all-season tire. I'm planning on a couple of long trips to northern Michigan this winter and that area can get a lot of snow. So I thought I'd better buy an Altimax winter tire for the spare as well. Shortly after it's delivery it dawns on me that winter tires are directional. Stupid! So if I mount the winter tire on the spare it will only really work if it's used on one side of the vehicle. So, should I have it mounted anyway or send it back to TireRack and keep the all-season tire for the spare? If I keep the A/S spare would it really effect the 4wd system if I drove on it say 500 miles or less? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 

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An all-season spare is probably just fine, and what came with the vehicle.

It won't hurt the 4WD system as long as it has the same outer diameter (+/- 3%, I think) as the tires currently on the vehicle.

Further, I don't believe it will "hurt" the 4WD system, as if I recall correctly the system will simply shut itself off if it detects the tire diameters are too far off (2WD mode only then), or any other significant issue, with a light on the dash indicating so.

Also, depending on your model, I *think* the rim for the spare isn't as wide as the regular rims, so it's possible the tire you ordered won't fit on the rim for the spare. Not sure about that, though.

Given that it's a 2012, if the spare has been under it's cover since new (e.g. not exposed to UV rays) the original spare is probably fine. I used my original spare on my 2012 RAV4 just last winter, in fact, while I had my Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 winter tires on. I only drove a few miles on the spare to the tire shop, but the 4WD system never complained. The Hak's were the same size as my original OEM tires (225/65/R17).

Just be sure the spare has the proper pressure in it, and maybe consider getting a small, car-operated air compressor. A compressor could allow you to continue using a winter tire with a slow leak for a while, too, at least until you can get to a safe place to mount the spare.

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