If you own a car that is less than 5-10 years old, take a quick look in the trunk. Do you have a spare tire? Most of us would probably assume that it’s there, but prepare yourself for some bad and potentially dangerous news, because many of today’s newer cars are getting rid of the spare tire.
According to a report released by American Automobile Association (AAA), more and more vehicles in the US are being sold without a spare on board. Even brands that are well-known for safety are shedding spare tires. Experts claim that better, sturdier tires and inflator kits have replaced spare tires on more than 29 million vehicles over the past decade. The numbers are also showing a trend—with 36% of all model year 2015 cars without spare tires, up from 5% in 2006.
Why are some of the world’s leading car companies sparing spare tires? It’s all about the fuel economy. As carmakers fight to achieve maximum miles per gallon, they’re getting rid of anything resembling dead weight to make vehicles lighter. By building cars without spare tires, carmakers are saving roughly 50 pounds and creating more space for other things.
Automakers make up for the lack of a conventional spare tire with one of two options—putting a tire inflator kit in the trunk, so customers can seal punctures and re-inflate their rubber or equipping their cars with run-flat tires, designed to stay inflated over limited distances after being punctured.
AAA argues that neither option is a great substitute. “We haven’t seen any decline in the calls for road service,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair. “Tires still fail and if you’d don’t have a spare you better hope that your tire inflator kit will work.”
So, what should you do if a car that you’re shopping for does not have a spare tire? You have two choices. First, start looking for another car that has a spare tire or roll the dice and hope you don’t need one. Second, you could also go out and purchase an additional tire for your new vehicle—but make sure to also get a jack. Since AAA suggests that you should have a spare tire, we always advise people to listen to the experts, especially those who handle more than 70% of this country’s roadside calls.
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