Spare the spare tire to save gas: Frugal Dilemmas

Some car manufacturers are dumping the spare tire to help their models lose weight and boost their gas mileage, according to this Los Angeles Times story.

The choice to equip cars with flat-fix kits or run-flat tires also lowers the manufacturer's costs --- only four tires are needed per vehicle, instead of five.

I don't know about you, but this news really surprised me. I had heard of gas miser hypermiling drivers who shed every potential component from their vehicles including spare tires, but that seemed a step too far.

Personally, my frugal heart resists the costs of the usual roadside-assistance services, if they are not already offered by insurance or a credit card. All insurance is a gamble --- you're betting the company you won't, say, get into a crash --- but this type is optional.

And my DIY self appreciates the value of auto maintenance skills such as tire changing, as well as a healthy sense of wonder over the power of simple machines such as levers.

Then again, the spare tire or donut itself is a form of insurance, one you pay for every trip in extra gas expended hauling it around with you.

And stories like that of Baltimore Police Officer Teresa Rigby, who was knocked off the elevated Interstate 83 bridge while responding to a crash, make me reluctant to get out of my vehicle should it ever become disabled.

Would you buy a car without a spare tire, or do you currently drive one now? Tell us where you stand in the poll below.

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