By on October 19, 2017

flat tire - tire change

It always happens when you aren’t expecting it. You’re cruising along in your automobile, listening to the radio and making wonderful time. Then, all of a sudden, the steering feels odd — there is an overabundance of vibration and the car keeps pulling to one side. You’ve got a flat tire.

Annoying, to be sure. Fortunately, this isn’t your first rodeo and you pull off to swap the punctured rubber with a spare. However, if you own a brand new car, you might be disappointed to learn there’s decent chance it doesn’t even have one. According to a recent study conducted by the American Automobile Association, 28 percent of 2017 model-year vehicles aren’t equipped with spare tires — leaving you breaking out the compressed air and sealant or calling for a tow truck.

In 2016, AAA said it was called by more than 450,000 motorists who were stranded without a spare. The reason for the missing rubber was attributed to manufacturers wanting to save weight and bolster government-mandated fuel efficiency. Those weight savings have to come from somewhere and, since spare tires go unused 85 percent of the time, it’s a tempting item to pull from a model without anyone noticing. That is, until it’s needed.

While fix-a-flat solutions abound, they’re not always applicable. I once handed over the keys of my Crown Victoria to a friend while on a road trip and he immediately made contact with road debris so gnarly that it left a nasty gash in the wheel. No amount of green goop and bottled air could remedy that particular issue, so we replaced the ruined tire with a full-sized spare. However, that opportunity to bond over lug nuts could have been a long and uncomfortable wait for the tow truck — followed by an overnight interlude before the vehicle could be serviced — under different circumstances.

“Having a flat tire can be a nuisance for drivers, but not having a spare could put them in an even more aggravating situation,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair. “This can turn the relatively routine process of changing a tire at the roadside into an inconvenient and costly situation that requires a tow to a repair facility.”

“With low-profile tires and the elimination of a spare tire, many newer vehicles are especially vulnerable to roadside tire trouble,” Nielsen continued. “AAA urges drivers to make it a priority to check their vehicle’s equipment and know what to do if faced with a flat tire.”

We’d go one step further and recommend purchasing a model that comes equipped with a fifth wheel if possible. Of course, if you’re fine with waiting it out on the side of the road, you don’t have to own a spare. But, given the option, why wouldn’t you?

AAA has a comprehensive list of vehicles from the current model year that details spare tire status, if you’re in the market for a new ride. While the majority of autos still offer backup rubber as an option, spares tend to be missing on electric vehicles and are a rarity on certain brands — BMW and Mercedes-Benz being the most noticeable.

Many might make the claim that spares are unnecessary, as the average driver doesn’t even know how to change a tire anymore. This isn’t actually the case. According to a secondary study, AAA estimates 80 percent of drivers are hip to the motions required to swap out bum rubber. However, even if those metrics seem a little high, it doesn’t change the fact that having a spare is more useful than not having one.

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95 Comments on “Doing the Math: Over a Quarter of New Cars Do Not Come With a Spare Tire...”


  • avatar
    jh26036

    18 years of driving now

    Only used the spare twice

    Definitely would have been annoying if I didn’t have them those two times.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      That’s pretty much my stats too. That said, the second time was only 3 months ago and caused by a rock.

      Tubeless tires that only lose pressure gradually made it possible to reach a repair facility in cases of simple nails on multiply occasions between the cases severe enough to require a spare.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Take out all the motors to elevate/open windows and doors and give me a spare tire.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I’m not a fan of gadgets for gadgets’ sake, but I think that electric window actuators compared to roll down hand cranks and linkages are about a wash when it comes to making the vehicle heavier. Power locks vs manual too.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Power door locks and windows certainly add conveniece and have become acceptably reliable.

        Power locks add the weight of the actuators to that system, but actuators are pretty light. Power windows also add the motors and switches but eliminate the crank handles. So probably a bit more weight there also. You have to consider the wiring etc. too.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …on my lotus, the power windows weigh less than manual cranks: not necessarily much weight to be saved there…i opted for the manual windows anyway; a few ounces are worth less hassle than having to turn on the car every time i want to lower or raise the windows…

      …power reclining/heated/ventilated seats are much more likely targets for dramatic weight savings…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    More reasons for people to buy trucks with honest to god full size spare tires. (I kid, I kid – but still seriously manufactures.)

    A better stat would be how many don’t even come with a factory can of fix a flat as standard equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I wouldn’t be surprised if run-flat 1/2 ton truck tires are on their way. Nobody has bothered to engineer a decent spare tire hanger for a pickup. The chains that lift the wheel into place rust and bind. The cranks used to unfurl them often disappear too. If it is a recent Ford, they wind up getting towed in for flats anyway, because the only way to generate enough force to break the wheel with the flat loose from the hub it’s welded itself to through galvanic corrosion is to drive with all the lug nuts removed.

      That being said, full sized spares were great. Tires have gotten much better to the point that complete deflations on the road are rare, but it is going to be a while until the roads stop getting worse every year. CAFE is going to cost us more spares even if wheel and tire sizes and curb weights start heading in a sane direction. People are being conditioned to think of their helplessness in an emergency situation as a badge of honor, just as they’ve been conditioned to think that math is something for people with no social skills. There’s probably a pretty strong correlation between people who accept cars with no spare tires and people who go along to get along. Pathetic.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Though there’s not much that’s exemplary on my Escape, the stainless steel hardware for lowering the spare is. And the jack handle used to lower the spare is unlikely to get lost.

        High temperature grease on the hub stops the corrosion binding and helps ensure a flush fit without the rust.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          My father was a commercial trucker and he always took a wire brush to the lug nuts before removing and always put a dab of oil on the stud. He never had an issue removing flats.
          I do the same and the only time I’ve had an issue is when a moron at a tire shop leaned on the impact gun at max pressure.
          With that being said, I’ve had 4 flats on my F150 with the stock Wrangler SR A’s. I’ve had zero problems since I went to 10 ply E rated tires.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            The only time I’ve ever had real trouble was on a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles on it that still had the nuts torqued from the factory.

            Thank god it was in my father-in-law’s driveway and he helpfully found a 4 ft piece of pipe to slip over the wrench.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I’ve had three flat tires from road debris (nails mostly) just in the last couple years. One of those times, the air leaked out in less than a mile and I had to use my spare; the other two times were a slow leak that required air about every 1-3 days until I got around to getting them fixed.

    I’ll give you my spare tire when you pry it from my cold, dead lug nuts.

  • avatar
    Urlik

    I live in rural West Texas and getting a flat may mean a 2 hour wait for a flatbed. The Golf R didn’t come with a spare so I was looking at other cars until I saw they came with them in the rest of the world. My first after market purchase for my Golf R was the tool foam and cut out trim piece from Latvia as well as jack, tools, and space saver spare from the US. Nice to have the piece of mind.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I regularly drive on remote rough gravel roads beyond cell service, so not only are flats more likely, not having a solution may mean a lot more than a 2-hour wait.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Obviously you have to choose based on your usage habits. Based on your description, the best choice is an SUV or pickup that carries a full-sized spare. Most people don’t get out into the rough like that.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    Well, there is also the problem of size. Where does one put a 20 inch wheel w/ tire in the vehicle?

    • 0 avatar
      Wunsch

      Audi came up with an interesting solution in the Q5 I had. It used a collapsable spare tire. It sat below the trunk with no air in it, and was structured so it would collapse down against the wheel. If you needed to use it, you’d use the supplied 12V compressor to fill it up, which would pop it out into the shape of an actual tire.

      I only owned the Q5 for four years, so I didn’t have any occasion to try the spare. The 12V compressor was handy for topping up air now and then though.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        “Audi stole an ancient solution in the Q5 I had from GM cars from the early 70’s”. There fixed it for you. Of course they didn’t make you wait for ever to fill it up with a compressor as they included a can of air. Which of course needed to be replaced if used generating future income. I still have the collapsible spare from my 71 Firebird. It didn’t have a can of air and since I quickly changed the wheels and tires one of the ones that came off went in the trunk.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    I know as far as BMW’s decision to ditch the spare, it came down to 3 things:

    1) The target BMW demographic is the non-enthusiast type who wouldn’t even consider lifting the hood, much less changing a tire. What, get your pants dirty while working on the roadside? Please.
    2) Cost-cutting. This is evident because if you want a “space saver” spare on a new BMW you have to pay for it.
    3) Marketing as a “safety feature” to nervous clientele who might just happen to get a flat while rolling through a rough area. To me, this is the only semi-legitimate reason to have runflats.

    It’s also a tie-in to the roadside assistance program to get cars into the service centers for routine work like replacing tires. The manual states if you get a flat, pull over to the side of the road and call roadside assistance who will tow you to the nearest service center. Or drive carefully and at reduced speed to the nearest BMW service center. Remember, they are the only ones who have the expertise to mount tires on your BMW. (eye roll)

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      They must have been happy to see the back of me. I remember my first new BMW. Showing friends my full sized spare on its matching road wheel and trunk-lid tool kit was part of the fun of acquisition. My friends were suitably impressed too. Over the next dozen years or so they practically all came to own BMWs. If you drove by my 2003 Super Bowl party, you could have confused it with an E46 club gathering. I could now give you a page long list of former new BMW owners. Are they glad we’re gone because most of us are pushing fifty? Or is it because we were buyers instead of lessees?

      • 0 avatar
        MrGrieves

        My thoughts exactly. I’m in my late 40s and nothing about the BMW brand appeals to me. I owned a 2004 330i with ZHP package that was probably my favorite car of all time. It was a great car but unreliable to the point that at around 70,000 miles it was eating my wallet. The full sized wheel with tire was just awesome.

        My wife shopped for BMWs not too long ago and on the options chart for the X3 you can choose non-runflats for some wheel options. But if you do, you need to add the space-saver tire option for an additional $150 (I think.) It seemed like we were being chastised for something we didn’t do.

    • 0 avatar
      Wunsch

      Carrying a spare tire around doesn’t just mean extra weight that you’re not using. It also cuts into storage space that could be used for something you actually need.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Suv’s have space underneath behind the rear wheels. The only other thing to put there is the gas tank, which is not a good idea. The spare and the structure around it makes a better crash force absorber than a cargo bin.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          All true, but another downside is that carrying the spare down there affects the underbody aerodynamics, and that costs a bit of highway mileage. Not much, but some, and the car companies care about every little bit adding up.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      I used to drive my E32 (which I converted to 3 pedals) and packed a spare fuel pump because I suffered about as many fuel pump failures as flats and they both took about the same amount of time to change.
      No spare tire is just one more reason to stick with well depreciated c.2000 cars.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    kind of sad really but are we surprised when we see car insurance ads where two high school age kids have no clue how to change a spare tire? they think they can save the world on their cell phone but can’t change a damn spare tire?

    also when i rent, i always make sure to rent a vehicle with a spare because we all know how well rental car agencies keep up with maintenance or heaven forbid proper tire inflation.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      This probably has as much to do with eliminating the spare as does weight savings. I doubt that a majority of today’s drivers could change a tire. I know that my wife couldn’t, and I wouldn’t qualify for any pit crews if I had to do it myself. And roadside assistance won’t help ya if there isn’t a spare somewhere in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      A couple rental cars ago, my rental car had a slow leak. I only had the thing for a couple of days but it needed air twice in that time. Stopping for gas right before returning the thing, it needed air so I carefully put in just enough that it would be safe to drive when the rental jockey took it through the carwash presumably an hour or two later, but flat enough that he or she would HAVE to notice. Or if they didn’t notice, then hopefully it would be even MORE obvious when the next customer went to drive it away.

      Yes, I told the rental people about it as I gave the key back but I wasn’t holding my breath any more than that tire could hold air.

  • avatar
    incautious

    Get a flat tire at night on an interstate when its like 10 degrees out. Thats just dangerous if not deadly if you have to wait 2 plus hours for a tow. Many times a can of fix a flat will not repair a damaged tire. Even if its a puncture, often you must jack up the car any way to reset the bead, but you cant do that if there is no jack. Plus with the condition of the roads today coupled with the race to super low profile tires which damage VERY easy often with side wall damage, this is pure irresponsibility. Cant wait until the trial lawyers get a hold of this one

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    This article highlights the worst part of a car I otherwise enjoy considerably – my 2011 BMW.

    In my old Jetta, I had a tire that got progressively worse and at some point I had to replace it at a gas station with the full spare in the trunk. It took 15 minutes and impressed the hell of my two passengers to boot. When time came for new tires, I put one of the bald ones in the trunk as spare and bought four new ones. The whole thing was very easy.

    sixty thousand miles in my Audi, no issues whatsoever. i sold it in 2017, and the factory full size spare remained in the trunk, untouched since brand new in 2005. we’re talking 150,000 miles.

    ten thousand miles in six months of the E90 ownership, and two destroyed front runflats due to potholes. Not only $250 each, but the x-drive makes me nervous exchanging a tire at a time (the rest were also pretty new). They’re also loud. I really hate them, but am not wasteful enough to get rid off before i have to. Once consumed, to hell with runflats.

  • avatar
    86er

    Yeah, it’s really too bad. Plus as mentioned many vehicles now don’t have the room for a spare.

    Maybe kevlar technology has to become more commonplace.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I have this compressor thing under the under the trunk liner of my Mustang…I only store 3 of my winter/summer tires. If I’m planning to leave the city, an extra tire, my “Motomaster floor jack, a Johnson bar with the correct socket, and block of wood, all go in the trunk.

    Yes.. it eats a lot of space up in the trunk .

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      This is what I do too when I leave town. It really sucks up a ton of trunk space with a full sizer and tools…but props to you, I do not bring a full size jack, just an OEM scissor jack that I bought from a junkyard. Yes, it works for my car.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Compact spares are bad enough, but no spare = no sale when I’m car shopping.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    Would you like to have the car next to you be driving on a ten-year-old, dry-rotted, underinflated spare tire held on with two stripped lug studs and two undertightened?

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Vehicles that come without spare wheel/tires often have a place to put one. Under the trunk/cargo floor and it’s usually filled with a Styrofoam spacer.
    One could buy a wheel/tire that fits, but how to install it as most likely the tools needed, jack and wrench, are left out as well?
    A tow service could be summoned, but there’s often a wait.
    I checked a few makers prices for their model dedicated tools and the prices are ridiculous. The tools could be found on the used/dismantler market, but that is another hassle.
    In addition to weight the manufacturer saves some money by not putting those items in.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Acura has a dealer option to install space saver for about $800

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Our all wheel drive Toyota Sienna has run flat tires because there is no room anyplace for a spare. The front wheel drive models do come with a spare. It sits underneath next to the right side sliding door. There is a crank in the floor to lower it. In the all wheel drive model, that space is occupied by the exhaust system which was displaced by the drive shaft to the rear wheels.

      Porsche gave up on spare tires years ago. For a while, they provided a collapsible spare and an air pump to inflate it. My independent mechanic tells me that, by the time you need it, the spare will no longer hold air due to dry rot.

      Although our driving habits are normal, we suffer flat tires often enough that the staff at our tire shop know me by name. The cause invariably is a rusty nail or screw dropped by a careless contractor. If I had my way, there would be a tax on them. Send in the repair receipt for anything from a plug to a new tire and be reimbursed out of the tax receipts.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The spare in my Z doesn’t fit over my upgraded front brakes. It still clears the rears so if I get a flat in the front I have to change TWO tires. I am not looking forward to that day! The better solution is to source an up-sized spare that clears my oversized stoppers.

    Given the crappy nature of factory scissor jacks calling in for a tow is often a good idea. At the very least you need to move your vehicle to a SAFE, flat area to do the work. Both my brother and I have had scissor jacks fail on us, as they tend to bend/fold if the vehicle is not perfectly level or the jack is not placed exactly right. This is not easy road side, at night, in the rain when stuff like this tends to happen.

    There is also the issue of local Tires-R-Us place putting the lugs on with 200lb of torque instead the recommended 80-90lb. I got a extended lug wrench (basically a breaker bar) because the factory one isn’t long enough to generate the required leverage.

    Years ago I learned a very valuable spare tire lesson: make sure the lug wrench actually fits your lugs. I got a flat on my boat trailer (pretty common sadly) and had a full sized spare ready to go (its mounted directly to trailer). Problem was the lug wrench for the truck didn’t fit the trailer lugs, so I couldn’t remove them. Now I have one of those four-way, heavy duty wrenches that will handle the truck and trailer lugs.

    As far as those little 12V “convenience” compressors go I’ve burned thru THREE of them over the last two years just re-inflating my tires after track days. So just last week I purchased a highly rated all metal one… we shall see if it holds up to the workload.

  • avatar
    charlieo

    I’m on my 3rd BMW lease, and having (nervously) driven on runflats/no spare for 7 years now, I’ve learned a few things:

    1) while they seem to be getting better, and I appreciate having the ability to drive for 60 miles on a sidewall-gashed tire (which I’ve done twice), I won’t opt for run-flat tires in the future.

    2) No more low-profiles for me: my last 2 cars weren’t even equipped with seriously low-profile tires (18″ rims), but I made sure to opt for 17″ rims on my 230i this time. Yes, there is a trade-off, but Long Island roads and low profiles don’t play well together.

    3) My next car will have a spare: I’ve never had anything but a donut but they work fine for me. If I’m driving out-of-state on a Sunday and get a flat: is it realistic to expect that I can drive or be promptly towed to a location where they have my tire in stock, and I’ll be back on the road in an hour or two? More likely I’ll be stuck overnight, and I’m not willing to take that chance.

  • avatar
    arach

    Am I the only one thoroughly impressed that 75% of cars DO have a spare?

    I was in disbelief so many DID have spares. cadillacs stopped carrying them in 2008, and my cadillac didn’t have one. The Chevy Camaro I owned didn’t have them in 2009. my 2015 Hyundai Sonata doesn’t come with them standard. Those are all really mainstream cars from different brands and NONE of them have had them in ages. I just kind of accepted that few had them anymore.

    Of course specialty exotics and stuff don’t either.

    I’m amazing so many cars had spares still. I thought they were totally obsolete already since all the cars I’ve owned in the last 10 years haven’t had them.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      Most of those cars are actually SUVs. Wranglers come with full sized spares even today.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        And don’t forget, a lot of people who do have spares don’t know how to use them even if one is aboard. Those ‘donut’ spares are not supposed to be mounted on the drive axle yet I see at least one a month (in a high-density area) where the donut is on the drive axle. They’re just begging for more issues down the road.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I once asked a Hyundai salesdork why the Accent didn’t come with a spare tire.

    His response: “When was the last time you had a flat tire?”

    My response: “I can’t remember the last time I had an accident, either, but I still carry car insurance.”

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    It has been said that if you have a Chrysler Co. van, a spare transmission is more likely to be needed than a spare tire.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Even if you don’t know how to change a tire, or are in ill health, injured, or too feeble to do so, someone else can change it for you. If you gash a tire on glass, and you don’t have a spare tire, you are hosed.

    I will never buy a car without a spare tire.

  • avatar
    srh

    I wish I could make a blanket statement like “I’ll never buy a car without a spare tire, better yet a full size spare”, because that’s certainly my inclination. But the reality is that the last several cars I’ve bought don’t have one.

    I seem to average a flat tire every couple years, most recently last Spring in my Nissan Leaf. I tried using the goop they include to patch a hole but just ended up messy and sticky. Fortunately I was only 5 miles from home, and was able to walk there, put a full-size jack in my van, drive back to the car, take off the wheel, and take it into a tire shop to get fixed. Putting a spare on a car takes about 10 minutes. That ordeal took me about 3 hours all in.

    My most notable flat was on a 200 mile gravel stretch of the Campbell Highway. With no gas station for about 100 miles either direction, not having a spare tire would have been inconvenient; fortunately my F-350 included a full-size spare.

    For my FoRS I have a set of winter tires. So I just keep one of those in the back.

    So while I suppose I’ll continue to buy cars that don’t have a spare, one of my first purchases for said cars will now be a spare wheel/tire for the back. Annoying.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    Most times I see someone driving a donut I get the distinct impression they are not limping along to the tire shop to get a new tire. Mostly because they’re not limping along – they’re driving at normal speeds, or worse. One time some nitwit in a Mercedes SUV went flying by me on a highway going about 90, and she was talking on her cell phone and driving a donut. So maybe the makers are trying to protect people from their own stupidity/feelings of invincibility?

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Do you want to hear a funny story?

    I bought a slightly used ’08 Cadillac CTS in 2010. The gen-2 CTS was the first Caddy to eliminate the spare. Much kvetching on the forums, etc. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d likely have to call a tow truck if I ever had a flat. Knock on wood, haven’t had one in seven years (also helps I don’t drive much).

    A couple months ago I was poking around the trunk (I also don’t use the trunk much). I lifted the floor compartment door and imagine my surprise when I saw a FULL SIZE SPARE in the compartment! I’d had one this entire time! I guess the the original owner had sprung for the spare package (which I think went for about $600 at the time).

    Anyway, just thought it was funny. Yes, I should have checked the compartment before I bought the car, but I was younger and dumber back then.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I wonder how many people are driving around with a FLAT spare for the same reason. Because honesty how often do you lift that mat in the trunk and actually check it?

      I’ve purchased several used cars and found this spot is where many random bits get stashed. Things like license plate screws, roof rack clips, window tint receipts, oil change coupons, misc interior parts like dividers for center consoles/cup holders and so on. For example our previous Volvo had an extra cabin air filter back there. When I sold the car I paid it forward and left an extra set of rear brake pads hidden there for the next owner. So its an area I always check.

      I’ve added checking the air in the spare as “to do” item at every oil change. If you are lucky enough to have a full size spare with a matching wheel/rim it should really part of your tire rotation schedule.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The decision to include a spare should be the product of careful cost/benefit analysis. I have not seen any evidence that such an analysis ever occurred: certainly not at the NHTSA or at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. With modern tires, the risk of a flat and the resultant costs including the cost of getting hit while your car is disabled on the road- a flat that can’t be fixed with aerosol inflater solution, has to be quantifiable. You balance against that the cost of the tire, the tire’s effect on luggage space and fuel economy, the costs of getting hit while you are changing the tire, and then you come up with a reasoned decision on whether or not to include a spare tire. Of course, this calculus could be very much impacted by local conditions. I live in a city, where I have great odds at getting off the road safely even with an irreparable flat, and I have great odds of getting to an auto shop with a fix-a-flat temporary repair. When I was driving in New Mexico, the thought of not having a spare tire was high on my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Conslaw – my dad has ruined a few tires and wheels driving until he found a safe spot to pull over to replace a flat. Reputable tire shops will not repair any tire that has been run flat so one might as well drive along until there is a safe spot to stop. I carry safety reflectors, flares as well as a blinking red light if I ever have to stop on the side of the road. .

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    In addition to having donuts in all our cars, I also carry a portable 12V compressor and a tire plug kit. Most of the flats I received over the last 10 years have been slow leakers caused by a screw or nail in the tread. This usually happens on a Saturday evening or Sunday when most tire stores are closed. Removing the tire and plugging it takes 15 minutes and another 15 minutes to pump it up with the mini compressor. There is a bias against plugging tires in the industry, but every tire I patched this way has lived ot its life without further issues.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      “There is a bias against plugging tires in the industry”

      Why is this? Are the tire companies/install shops just doing this to scare people into replacing otherwise perfectly good tires?

      My experience mirrors yours: I’ve plugged several tires and they have been just fine. Heck I ran a plugged a tire on my car at the track… and somehow survived repeated 100 MPH turns and multiple threshold braking events. Given modern radial steel belt construction is one tiny hole (in the tread not sidewall of course) going to compromise the whole tire? Given the surface area a screw hole like this is maybe .01% of the tire. Enough for air to leak out slowly but not enough to render the entire tire worthless in my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The tire lobby pushed this through a few years ago, and it has just somehow become the standard. They started insisting that plug patches were the only acceptable solution. The problem with patches is that the inside surface is very thin on modern tires, and it is too easy to grind through into the steel belt. Michelin used to recommend only plugging.

      On my own vehicles, I will usually only plug a tire. I only use the brown “tubeless” plugs. I have never had an issue. The black “radial” plugs seam to always fail.

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        I have had poor luck with plugs. They seem to last about a year then begin to leak slowly. Not sure if the adhesive dries out or what. I always insist on an internal patch. Never had one of those fail.

  • avatar
    SearMizok

    For me, a spare tire, at least a donut is a requirement.

    The Fix-a-flat they give you would be next to worthless most of the time, in real life.

    Do people just go in knowing that if they get a flat, they’re going to have to call a flat-bed to come get them??

  • avatar
    cheezman88

    What’s up with Jalopnik and TTAC posting the same articles nowadays?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    We were once at the family cottage in a remote part of Canada (5 miles from paved road) when our Odyssey had a flat in the morning.

    Without a spare tire, I couldn’t have gotten the car to Canadian Tire for repair. They were champs, valiantly installing an internal plug patch over a cut created by a stone which went clear through the tread. They found the stone inside the tire. No Fix-A-Flat, air pump, or external plug could have fixed that one.

    I was thrilled, because they originally told me I needed a new tire, but one wasn’t immediately available in the odd Odyssey size at the time. They still managed to fix it for this foreigner.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Wow ! A positive Canadian Tire service experience . I’m shocked they didn’t try to sell you four new tires, some front end components, and a wheel alignment. I’m glad you made it home, relatively unscathed.

      As an aside. For the majority of us, we don’t consider Americans foreigners.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I don’t like run-flat tires. For one thing, they harder, because of the stiffer sidewalls needed in order to run when flat. And, IIRC, once you have a flat and drive on it, the tire can’t be replaced, but must be repaired. Stupid.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’m glad I had a spare tire when I damaged the sidewall of a tire at 1AM. Wish I had checked the spare tire pressure before I got a flat. Lesson learned. Lots of walking to get change for the coin operated air compressor, but I got home safely. Other times I’ve had slow leaks where having a spare was convenient, but not absolutely necessary. Having a spare meant I could wait until the next day to get the tire repaired.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    Invited a lawyer gal over to my place, great evening and when time for her to go noted it was late and offered my room while I took the couch. She politely decline, said our goodbyes, about 10 minutes later a knock at the door and thought she changed her mind. Turns out she had a flat with no spare…no problem, retrevied my tire plug kit and patched it. Had to air up at the corner gas station, in about 20 minutes she was on her way. Later learned from one of her friends, she never met a man would could do fix a tire and decided she was going be my girlfriend. Lasted a year & a half.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I don’t think the removal of the spare can be solely blamed on CAFE; there’s plenty of other reasons for an automaker to remove it.

    While the weight of a spare is certainly non-zero, the spare also takes up substantial trunk space, costs a lot more than a can of fix-a-flat and an air compressor, and doesn’t really provide much in the way of commercial advantage.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Despite all the argument above, how many cars today actually ever get a flat on the road any more? I see more flats in people’s driveways and to be honest, with the car’s ability to sense low air pressure, the driver is given a chance to reach a tire shop before the tire goes completely flat any more. Sometimes they’re patched, sometimes they’re plugged and sometimes they’re simply replaced.

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      That’s exactly my point. How often do people have to change tires now – statistically? I don’t know, and I don’t think NHTSA knows. I think the automakers might know, but they treat the info as proprietary. Should automakers be required to keep spares? IMHO, it depends. My car doesn’t have a spare. If it did, it would have unacceptable luggage space. I would have to buy a different vehicle. I haven’t had a flat tire in 10 years. I haven’t had one that would have resulted in a roadside replacement with the spare in 30 years. We really need more information to make intelligent decisions on this issue.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Some of us deal with roads like these.
        https://bnc.lt/a/key_live_eifqPbvhIRnKEb1T0MSFpipgsCenSDRu?%24ios_deeplink_path=pinterest%3A%2F%2Fpin%2F190347521724995872&%24android_deeplink_path=pinterest%3A%2F%2Fpin%2F190347521724995872&amp_client_id=CLIENT_ID(_)&utm_source=168&utm_medium=2160&current_page_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Famp%2Fpin%2F190347521724995872%2F

  • avatar
    Adam Hergenrother

    Luckily I haven’t had to change a tire out on the highway (knocks on wood) in my 34 years of logging miles.

    However, the donut spare and accompanying OEM jack and tools have always served me well…for rotating the tires on my vehicles.

    The OEM scissor jacks are great for lifting the cars they’re made for (on level pavement) just long enough to install the donut. I move from corner to corner, swapping the tires around. Quick and easy.

    Personal connection to the article: I was quite disappointed to find there was no donut or jack/tools in the trunk of the 2014 Elantra I recently purchased for my daughter to drive while at college. I knew it before agreeing to complete the sale. After some searching, I was able to find a complete OEM kit through Amazon for under $150. Worth it for peace of mind alone.

    My thoughts on simply being prepared for the worst case are essentially the same as the “what ifs” presented in the article. I’ve trained both of my kids on proper use of the OEM jacks, tools, etc. on the cars they drive and we also carry AAA coverage.

    Which brings me to my final point / concern…I see AAA setting us up for a rate hike based on the increased number of towing calls based on more and more motorists realizing at a very inconvenient time that they bought cars without spares / tools.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    My family is on its second run-flat car. In the 6ish years of having them, not once has a spare been needed. Of course that doesn’t mean it never will be needed. But if we’re talking a risk of once every 5+ years vs having the extra space and lower weight plus the added safety of run-flats….it’s an easy trade off.

  • avatar
    r129

    I never gave much thought to spare tire issue, and every vehicle I’ve owned thus far has had one. I’ve even used them a few times. When I made my most recent vehicle purchase, I was surprised at how enthusiastic the salesman was about the fact that the car included a spare tire. It was the very first thing that he pointed out, and he really made a point of selling that feature.

  • avatar
    jimble

    My Crosstrek Hybrid has no spare because a battery takes up the space where a spare would go, but it did come with a jack. I can’t remember the last time I had a flat so not having a spare doesn’t generally bother me much, but I bought a cheap spare wheel and tire to take with me when I’m traveling where the roads are rough and roadside assistance might be hard to come by. Having that spare gave me some peace of mind when I covered 250 miles of gravel road in Labrador with no services or cell phone reception along the way, but it eats up a lot of space in the back so I don’t carry it all the time.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Basically I don’t operate a vehicle (bicycle motorcycle or automobile) without the appropriate parts and tools.

    For a car that means a spare tire, kept inflated (compact, or full size), a tool bag and a second bag that contains jumper cables, a car-battery-operated trouble light, and a dry-cell-battery operated trouble light, some shop rags, some electrical wire, spare windshield wipers, and a piece of pipe to use as a cheater bar for the lug wrench. I haven’t had trouble with OEM jacks in my experience, though for things like tire rotations in the driveway I use a floor jack of course.

    I do not get flat tires very often, but I am prepared.

    Whenever it happens that I have a tire store take off/put on a wheel, I go back later and break all the lugs loose (often requiring the aforementioned pipe plus all my 190 lbs) and retorque at rational torques so I know I will be able to get them off if I need to.

    Whenever I have a wheel off I put a bit of antiseize on the lug threads and the center pilot (it can be a real job to remove a wheel when the center pilots of the hub and wheel have corroded together).

    My wife is not strong enough to change a tire, but her car ALWAYS has a spare tire, inflated, and a set of jumper cables. If she has a flat there will be someone around strong enough to change the tire. If she doesn’t have a spare, the experience just went from half an hour to half a day at least.

    I am always astonished by the number of people who are not willing to take sufficient responsibility for themselves that they will rely on calling someone for the simplest issues, like a flat tire, and as I noted, end up spending half a day or more on something that could be a half hour delay.

    I have encountered any number of bicyclists (including grown men – I could make allowances for small children, of course) who do not know how to fix a flat tire on a BIKE for cryin’ out loud, and think that their cell phones will solve all problems.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Lost a tire on the Volt this summer and had to have it flat bedded. Towing insurance costs next to nothing. Flat tires are so rare I don’t see much sense in carrying a spare. All the trailers I’ve towed over the last 20 years & I’ve never once had a flat. But I continue to pack a spare, tire iron & jack when I leave town. Local tows I don’t bother.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ve come back today to make the blanket statement “I’ll never let my wife buy a vehicle without a spare tire.”

    She’s had her Terrain for less than 20,000 miles and had the spare on it twice. Once for running over a nail/screw on the road and then called me last night (I had to head out of town for business after hitting a curb so hard she popped the bead!

    s/ I can’t wait to get home tonight and see what’s waiting for me. (eye roll)

  • avatar
    MOSullivan

    I’ve had 3 flats in the last 6 or 7 years. One was a tire failure just after I’d exited a freeway.

    The spare wheel got me out of two of the situations. Tire gloop and air didn’t work. It worked in the other situation long enough to get to a tire shop a few kilometers away. A runflat would not have helped in one of the situations and I am pretty sure it wouldn’t have helped in another one.

    Suppose I got a flat somewhere out of the city. I call CAA and wait for who knows how long. When it turns up it will install my own spare if I have one or tow me to the nearest approved garage if I don’t have one. How long is this going to take? What if it’s night time or a holiday and garages are closed? What if the tire can’t be plugged and has to be replaced? What if there’s no cell reception where it happens? Don’t laugh — there are rural areas in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with none, like sections of Fundy National Park.

    I can change a wheel in 15 or 20 minutes. I will give up half a day or more if I have to call roadside assistance. This is ridiculous.

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