Get a flat tire in a newer model car and you might be asking, “Dude, where’s my spare?” Go to the trunk and you may find a can of sealant, small air compressor, or neither.
In an August 2013 survey by AAA that includes 2014 models, there are 145 vehicles that don’t come standard with a spare. The question is, “Why?”
“Spare tires are disappearing from new vehicles to save space, to make vehicles lighter and to reduce parts complexity,” said Robert Saul, Bridgestone Americas’ senior product manager.
Not carrying a spare eliminates the weight, space, and expense. To compensate, automakers equip their cars with miniature air compressors, inflator kits, or run-flat tires.
According to General Motors, a temporary “doughnut” spare weighs 30 or more pounds. A full-size spare weighs 50 or more pounds. Inflator kits are just 5-6 lbs. When improving fuel economy, ounces count. While cars like the Chevrolet Cruze Eco have space for an optional spare, fuel economy ratings are achieved without one on-board.
Other cars, like the Cadillac ELR, do not. There’s no space for a 20” wheel in the cargo hold and its weight would be detrimental to all-electric driving range. I was driving one until it had an unfortunate kiss with a pothole and had to be towed. As if changing a flat tire is not hassle enough.
Driving without a spare doesn’t have to elicit fear. In the past, run-flat tires were viewed as costly with a harsh ride. New run-flat tires, like those from Bridgestone, provide peace of mind without the downsides.
“Drivers can travel up to 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour after a puncture or loss of pressure,” Saul said. “So, rather than be stuck on the side of the road changing a flat tire or waiting for help, DriveGuard tires allow drivers to keep moving so that they can get to a safe and convenient location to have their tire repaired or replaced.”
Given the pressure on automakers to improve fuel efficiency, and drivers’ desire for the style of large-diameter wheels, the trend away from spares shall continue. Until airless tires become common, the best advice may be to join AAA.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun