Car manufacturers phase out the spare tyre

Like the good old cassette player the spare tyre is now becoming a thing of the past. Many car manufacturers have decided to stop supplying them. So if you’ve bought a new car in the last few years, check your boot – chances are you’ll find it empty.

Published 17 October 2012:

Robert Griffiths realised his tyre was damaged on New Year’s day on his journey home from Sheffield, but his 2010 Vauxhall Safira didn’t have a spare tyre. Instead it was fitted with a do-it-yourself repair kit, complete with sealant.

Robert tried to use the kit to repair the tyre, but the tear was too large and the sealant couldn’t work. He had to call out a rescue vehicle and arrange for a tow truck to take him home. The whole process took 2 and a half hours.

A recent report by the rescue service Green Flag revealed that the number of call outs to drivers left stranded has leapt by 20 per cent.

And the RAC say they’ve had over 80 000 call outs a year from people who have no spare tyres and from drivers who have had limited success with the sealant kits.

The kit will only repair tyres with small punctures, so if the driver has a side wall damage or a deep cut it won’t work – and even when the kit does work, you still may end up paying.

When Tom Watkins had a flat tyre on his Vauxhall Corsa, he used the sealant. His dad later asked the dealer to carry out a simple puncture repair, but they refused. They said they couldn’t wash the sealant out and Tom had to buy a whole new tyre at a cost of over £100.

Other drivers are getting similar bills. While some repair-kit sealants are soluble, Watchdog has learnt that tyre repairers often refuse to wash out and re-use the tyre because the process is too time consuming.

Meanwhile more and more car-makers are getting rid of the spare tyre. We’ve found that out of Britain’s top ten-selling models last year, only Volkswagen provided one.

Dominic Tobin, Motoring Journalist from The Sunday Times told Watchdog that car manufacturers want to make their cars lighter because it improves fuel economy. The EU has set targets for this so by taking out the spare tyre it removes around 20 kilos of weight. But Dominic argues such efficiency savings can be made in other ways, using aluminium in the car design or redesigning the seats.

As Britain’s already pothole-riddled roads are likely to deteriorate further during the coming winter, causing even more motorists to experience blow-outs it seems that bringing the spare tyre back could be an easy and sensible solution.

Company Response

 

An SMMT spokesperson says,

Today's cars are all offered with a safety system that enables motorist to deal with punctures. The majority of cars are available with a spare tyre as standard or as an option within the range, but increasing tyre sizes and customer demand for better fuel efficiency, more boot space and lower vehicle prices have driven the market towards a range of other options including tyre repair kits, space saver tyres and run flat tyres.

A tyre repair kit is safe and easy to use and many motorists prefer the benefits offered by the kits, particularly over changing a wheel at a busy roadside. Most new car packages also include roadside assistance for those that need extra help or to manage more serious tyre failures.

It is important for new car buyers to understand the safety systems provided with their vehicle and take time to consider the best options for their circumstances.

Can you explain why manufacturers, in many cases, no longer supply a spare tyre with a vehicle?

The majority of car models come with a spare tyre as standard or as an option within the range, but increasing tyre sizes and customer demand for better fuel efficiency, more boot space and lower vehicle prices have driven the market towards tyre repair kits. Despite this, manufacturer main dealers offer full size or space saver spare tyres as options on the vast majority of models.

If you are not providing a spare tyre for environmental reasons then surely having to replace a tyre that is repairable and re-usable in some situations is not very environmentally friendly either?

Fuel efficiency improvements are just one of the benefits of not carrying a spare tyre. More boot space and lower vehicle prices have driven the market towards tyre repair kits. Despite this, manufacturer main dealers offer full size or space saver spare tyres as options on the vast majority of models.

What should a consumer do if a tyre has a puncture, or is shredded and the sealant is not sufficient?

Tyres play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of all road users, so any issue is best dealt with by experts. Many vehicle manufacturers offer free roadside recovery as part of a new car warranty package. SMMT recommends that motorists take advantage of vehicle manufacturer or independent roadside recovery services when tyres are more seriously damaged, since this may also be indicative of a more severe impact on the wheel, and of additional damage to the vehicle beyond a simple puncture.

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