A funny thing happened on the way to government mandated EPA and MPG standards, automakers decided spare tires were dead weight. But, there’s nothing funny about being stuck in the middle of nowhere after having a catastrophic blowout where your tire shreds down to the rim. You pop the trunk of your new car only to discover – there’s no spare.
You loved the color, the interior, and all the special features – but, you forgot to ask the salesman if your model came with a spare tire. Unfortunately, you’re not alone. After all, you assumed it automatically came with the car like a lot of other drivers.
If you’re not sure or didn’t ask your dealer whether your new car came with a full-size spare or a silly donut, you could be in for a major disappointment “down the road”.
According to a new report from AAA, more new vehicles sold in the U.S. are driving off the lot minus a spare in the trunk. In fact, if the car you’re proudly cruising around in was manufactured in the last five years, you may want to take a quick peek under the junk in your trunk so you know what to expect. There’s a one in three chance you won’t have one.
The report states that 29 million vehicles over the last 10 years have been sold with run-flat tires or inflator kits. Problem is – if you don’t happen to be driving a luxury car with such a safeguard, you could end up stranded on the side of the road with no spare and no cellphone signal to call for help.
In 2015, 36 percent of new cars were sold without a backup spare, which is a substantial increase from the measly five percent in 2006. Expectations are that the percentages will continue to rise unless AAA manages to convince automakers that it would be in the best interest of motorists to reverse course and go back to including a spare tire with all new vehicles.
That may be a hard sell since automakers have turned to aluminum body parts, plastic grills, and the exclusion of spare tires to shed weight and increase MPG. Reducing a vehicle’s weight by eliminating a 50-pound security blanket and its hardware that many motorists never use seemed like the perfect solution.
Run-flat tires and inflator kits might work fairly well when you run over a nail or screw that simply punctures the surface of the tread, but tear up the sidewall and no can of sealant will get you home. You’ll require roadside assistance and, because AAA servicers don’t carry spares, it will turn into a tow that could be costly should you exceed your mileage allotment. For those reasons, AAA argues that neither is a great substitute for a spare tire.
But, automakers are banking on the fact that millennials, drivers aged 18-34, aren’t used to getting their hands dirty, opting instead to take their chances with cans of sealant and run-flat tires. The AAA report reveals automakers may have a case, considering only 20 percent of millennials even have the slightest idea how to change a tire.
Whether you know how to change a tire or not, a spare could end up being a life saver on a dark, deserted road in the middle of nowhere. If you’re in the market for a new car, don’t assume and don’t be afraid to ask if the car comes with five tires or only four.
Do you currently drive a new car without a spare tire? Are you okay with it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.