Manufacturers eschewing spare tires are causing motorists problems

Published: November 13, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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An increasing practice by automobile manufacturers is frustrating many motorists and worrying many more, with some brands feeling forced into shedding the spare tire from their car models. However, by getting rid of spare tires, the manufacturers (and ultimately government) are causing a problem for motorists.

That’s according to the AAA in the United States that said more than a third of all vehicles shipped in the country come without a spare wheel/tire. While the largest motoring organization in North America is talking specifically about the U.S. market, it is a similar situation in Canada, where manufacturers are increasingly shipping vehicles without a spare tire.

"Flat tires are not a disappearing problem, but spare tires are," said John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of automotive engineering and repair, while also adding that the organization is called out 4 million times for flat-tire aid each year. "… Advances in automotive engineering allow for weight to be reduced in ways that don't leave motorists stranded at the roadside."

However, many manufacturers are struggling to meet strict governmental regulations for fuel economy, with weight saving an easy way for companies to reduce fuel consumption in a vehicle. Car makers may argue that they are not leaving motorists stranded as most now provide sealant kits that can temporarily fix a flat tire. However, these kits do not work for blowouts and they leave a toxic resin that will cost the owner more to clean out than if they were just buying a new tire.

"Consumers may mistakenly believe that inflator kits are a one-size-fits-all alternative to installing a spare tire," Nielsen said. "The reality is these kits can accommodate specific types of tire damage, but having the option to install a spare tire can save stranded drivers time and money."

The Automobile Protection Association (APA) of Canada says drivers should ask their dealer whether their vehicle comes with a spare wheel, especially as some manufacturers will offer a spare as an optional (paid) extra.

“People buy vehicles not knowing there isn’t a spare, and usually the cost of a spare wheel and tire is so high that it’s not worth buying at the dealer,” said George Iny from the APA.