Does Your Car Have a Spare Tire?

by Moderator on ‎12-21-2015 02:14 PM - last edited on ‎12-29-2015 04:49 PM by Lithium Technologies (9,429 Views)

More than one-third of 2015 vehicles were sold without a spare tire, a growing trend that is catching drivers by surprise when they get a flat tire.



In 2014, AAA responded to more than 4 million member calls for tire-related assistance, and flat tires remain the second-leading cause for AAA Roadside assistance calls. Despite advances in technology, including tire pressure-monitoring systems and run-flat tires, AAA has not seen a decline in the number of flat tire-related calls it has responded to in the last five years.


Over the past decade, nearly 30 million vehicles have been sold without a spare tire. If you’ve purchased a new vehicle in that time and don’t know for certain that it has a spare, take a few minutes to check—before you get a flat tire and discover you own a model that doesn’t have one.


Where’d the Spare Go?

In an effort to comply with government miles-per-gallon standards, automakers have been looking for ways to reduce excess vehicle weight wherever they can, and the 30-plus pounds added by a spare tire and its related tools has become a casualty in certain models. In its place, these vehicles are equipped with either a tire inflator kit or run-flat tires. AAA has compiled a list of vehicles sold without a spare over the last 10 years.


Tire Inflator Kits

Tire inflator kits often consist of an air compressor and a small container of sealant. Tests run by AAA found that these kits are only effective when the puncture occurs in the tire tread—not the sidewalls—and the object remains in the tire. But even when successful, they only provide a temporary fix; the tire will still need to be patched or replaced, and a new kit will need to be purchased. In addition, tire inflator kits have an expiration date, typically 4-8 years, so they need to be monitored and replaced when that date has passed. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire inflator kit in lieu of a spare tire, be sure to read the owner’s manual to familiarize yourself with how to use it before you get a flat tire.


Run-Flat Tires

Run-flat tires are specially designed to temporarily support a vehicle’s weight when an object has punctured a tire and it’s lost some or all of its air. These tires usually allow a vehicle to travel a distance of approximately 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 mph so you can safely drive the vehicle to a shop for a tire repair or replacement. But these tires cost much more to replace than traditional tires, and like the tire inflator kits, they are not effective if a tire’s sidewall has been damaged or punctured.


The Bottom Line

Each four-pound tire inflator kit eliminates approximately 30 pounds of weight in a vehicle, but the resulting fuel consumption savings are minimal. In addition, the replacement cost is high, with some kits costing up to $300 per use—as much as 10 times more than a simple tire repair. Due to their limited functionality, these kits cannot provide even a temporary fix for many common tire-related problems. With all of this in mind, AAA is urging automakers to put consumer interests first and rethink eliminating the spare tire.


If faced with roadside trouble, including a flat tire, AAA members can request assistance at, via the AAA Mobile app or by calling (800) AAA-HELP.


Image credit/source: AAA Public Relations

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