Demise of the spare tyre

Image: VAGCOM-tyre

Proud owners of new cars are discovering that their shiny and expensive acquisition is not all that they expected it to be as manufacturers quietly phase out the spare tyre. Most of us expect a spare tyre to be included when we buy a new car but you are more than likely to find a can of foam instead. To add insult to injury it seems that the spare tyre has become an optional extra!

The RAC say that they have had more than 80,000 call outs in one year from people who have no spare wheel and drivers reporting problems with the foam can sealant kits. One problem with the sealant kit is that it only works on small punctures of less than 4mm, a major puncture or damage to the side wall means you have to call for help – a serious issue if you do not have membership of any of the breakdown/rescue services. Another problem is that the chemical content of many of these special foam cans corrodes the tyre and ruins it, so that small puncture turns out to be very pricey indeed – particularly so if your tyre was already new and expensive! Some of the cans contain soluble sealant but dealers and tyre repairers are refusing to wash damaged tyres out as the process is too time consuming.

EU/UK targets require manufacturers to build lighter, more fuel efficient cars and, as a spare tyre weighs approximately 20 Kg, replacing it with a lightweight sealant kit is a simple but effective form of weight reduction. Many manufacturers are opting for space saver tyres or run flats but these are mostly available as standard in the top of the range marques, and as optional extras for the rest of us. The roadside rescue services are calling for spare tyres to be offered as a no-cost option for new car buyers, they are also advising buyers to check what is in their boot before take delivery of their new pride and joy.

What was once a matter of a simple tyre change, meaning you could quickly continue on your journey and get a relatively cheap puncture repair later, we now have to wait for roadside assistance and then suffer the expense of a new tyre.