Are Spare Tires Going the Way of the Dodo?

Nospare
Under increased pressure to produce more fuel-efficient cars — and do so profitably — automakers are starting to ditch the extra weight, namely the spare tire, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Automakers like Hyundai, General Motors and BMW are at the forefront of this movement. Chevrolet is one of the most aggressive brands to scuttle the spare, says the L.A. Times. The automaker typically replaces the spare with a tire inflation kit and sealant package. Automakers like BMW have ridded themselves of spares by offering run-flat tires.

Going with inflator-type kits has saved automakers like Hyundai a reported $22 a vehicle or about $4.4 million on the 200,000 Elantras the automaker plans to sell this year. Chevrolet says that ditching the spare saves about 26 pounds of extra weight in the Cruze, allowing the automaker to improve fuel economy.  Because the EPA rounds its fuel-economy numbers, this could help improve a model’s fuel economy by 1 mpg. Spare tires are not federally mandated because they are not considered an essential safety feature.

While getting rid of spares is a great move for car companies, car buyers are mostly ambivalent about the move, according to the L.A. Times. Technological improvements, such as tire pressure monitoring systems, and increased availability of road-side assistance (standard on Hyundais and Chevys) means getting a flat happens less often and is less burdensome when it occurs.

Still, some car customers say they weren’t informed that the new car they bought didn’t have a spare, which can be something of an unpleasant surprise if a blowout occurs. Tire inflator kits only work on small punctures for short distances; major tire damage cannot be fixed with one of these kits.

Unless there’s an outright revolt from consumers, expect spare tires to slowly disappear from more car trunks as automakers try to meet new federally mandated fuel standards.

Automakers sell more cars without spare tires (Los Angeles Times)

By Colin Bird | June 20, 2011 | Comments (32)

Comments 

Mark

My friend and I got stuck late one night with a flat and the compressor in the tire sealer kit that came with his Malibu didn't work. It was very frustrating as it took several hours for roadside to arrive. To make matters worse the dealer said it was only a $100 option when he bought his car but when he went to buy it after the fact the price became $500. He went to two other dealers and got the same story. Thankfully his neighbor told him he could order it off of a GM direct website so he did that and it cost just over $100 dollars with shipping. My buddy was so angry with the run around he swears he'll never buy another Chevrolet. All over a spare tire!

Aaron

Doesn't the 2012 Focus have a full-size spare? I am surprised that they would consider a larger tire instead of the "donut" while others are getting rid of the spare all together. I actually prefer a spare even if it means the "donut".

Dan

"...BMW have ridded themselves of spares by offering run-flat tires. "

Aren't run-flat tires heavier than their standard equivalent?

All that additional spinning mass must be a bigger hit to fuel efficiency that would be saved by eliminating the spare. I'd be pretty sure BMW is just doing this for design flexibility, not fuel efficiency.

Tony

automakers do everything anti-consumer. Large wheels and tires, small windows, run-flats, low profiles, electronic gauges, 5mph accidents with $3k damage...

so, what if you tear sidewall? You stuck. Get this: no spare - no jack, to log wrench. How cool?

Skankzilla

My NC Miata has no spare, not even supplied as an option. But no worries, they do supply a jack. WTF?

Brad

All of the Honda Accords we've owned over the years including our 2011 have a jack and spare. I've heard nothing but bad things about run flat tires so I'm glad Honda hasn't used them.

dbrnhrt

Thank you for addressing this. I can't believe that manufactures can get away with cutting corners like a spare tire. Sure the 40mpg on the new elentra looks great, but if they are not adding a spare tire (and the salesman isn't telling you about that) then what other corners are they cutting and not telling you about???

Thanks, but I'll stick with a Honda.

Carson B.

Why would Hyundai and Chevrolet sell a car without a spare that does not have run flat tires standard? Talk about putting the corporate dollar before the consumer!

eagle2x

No spare tire or run flats are unacceptable for my trip profiles. If the vehicle has no spare tire or option to add, it won't be in my garage. Manufactures need to suck it up and find the weight and cost savings elswhere.

George

Maybe it is time for a spare wheel to become an 'essential safety feature'.
What will it take, someone-or some family getting killed because they were waiting for roadside assistance?

The Bridgestone '3G' runflats are markedly improved, but are still no replacement for a fullsize spare wheel.

Hopefully Nissan will continue with the fullsize [diameter] mini-spare in the next Altima. (and you can opt for a fullsize-diameter/width spare)

Tony

Thankfully Highlander came with 5 (yea - five!!!) alloy wheels. You can rotate 5 wheels! Of course, the tires were some of the worst Dunlop trash. But it has 5 of them.

highdesertcat

In my part of the country you don't run around without a spare tire. The distances between towns are too great. I have seen too many people stuck on the side of the road in the middle of the desert with blown or shredded tires and no spare. Run-flat tires are an option but you can't go very fast or very far on them if you blow one. Best bet is to buy that full-size spare and quit worrying about the gas mileage. If you have to worry about gas mileage, don't buy a car!

Derrick G

It should be noted that the real deal with gas mileage is something called an inertia weight class used by the EPA. If you can shave enough pounds to get into a lower one, you'll get a higher adjusted number, which as the source article says might be enough to give you a tenth of an MPG more than might push your tenths to .5 which you can then round up. In the 1970's, the big thing was to reduced the size of the gas tank, even as people waited in line for gas. It's also why you're unlikely to find a sunroof or leather seats on a special fuel economy package because those are certified as separate models and the weight class is based on an average of how a model is expected to be equipped. As CAFE standards go higher, this will be come common. It's not just the customer' mileage makers are worried about.

Zerf

This is one of the most disappointing things GM has done to their new cars in the last few years. Glad to see the article pointing it out. I did not realize Hyundai was in the same boat. I am glad to see as an option to put it back on the car but feels like paying for something that use to be included. I myself have little faith in the fix a flat kits even when it is on my bicycle. Run flat tires are expensive and there are only limited models of tires that can be bought as run flats, not much of a solution.

WTF

Random thoughts:

1) How many people regularly check the pressure in their spare tire?

2) How many people have used a temporary spare tire for extended distances or at speeds greater than the warning label?

3) How many people know how to use their jack and how to remove the spare tire from the undercarriage (pickups, SUV's)?

4) How many people would rather wait for roadside assistance than get hot, dirty and frustrated by changing a flat tire?

Dave

Random thoughts are always stupid and pointless. Yours follow form.

WTF

I'm sorry for you Dave.

wills

1) How many people regularly check the pressure in their spare tire?

Every time the oil is changed the pressure is checked, not to mention the face that it has tpms.

2) How many people have used a temporary spare tire for extended distances or at speeds greater than the warning label?

Ive used a spare several times in my lifetime. Always with caution and for only as long as necessary for repair.

3) How many people know how to use their jack and how to remove the spare tire from the undercarriage (pickups, SUV's)?

I do, not to mention there are instructions in the owners manual and in the tire compartment (which is located in the back under the floorboard of my suv). And there are pretty little pictures showing how to do it in case you can't read.

4) How many people would rather wait for roadside assistance than get hot, dirty and frustrated by changing a flat tire?

I'd rather get hot, dirty and flustered (as I did last time I changed a tire) than wait an hour or so for roadside assistance.

And FYI I needed a spare since the sidewall was shredded and couldn't be repaired by fix-a-flat and air pump.

I too will not purchase a car without a spare.

Tony

If I lived in or around Boston, I wouldn't drive without a spare and wouldn't buy a car with low profile tires.

George

If the mini-spare is the rear axle of a front wheel drive car, then you can operate up to the speed rating (assuming it is fully inflated)
I have driven 75mph with a mini-spare on the rear axle of a Neon. (long time ago)
It was either M or N speed rated.

The recommendation of 50miles at 50mph, is just to provide a safety margin for people who do not maintain 60psi, and mount on the front axle. (the differential really does not like to continuously differentiate)

Derrick G

How many cars have TPMS for the spare?

Skankzilla

Toyota is big on putting TPMS on their full size spares.

Lantz

I don't know what world these people are living in but, full size spares went out sometime in the mid 80's. I have an 87 camaro iroc-z standard equipment was the donut tire. 85 cutlass same thing, monte carlo again no real spare. I personally like to have a full size spare but, it should come as no surprise that they don't supply them any more, have not in most models for years. If it really bothers you go to your local junkyard, pick up a wheel for about $50-100 put a tire on it and hush. it is not that big of a deal to fix it if your not a moron.

Brian

Someone who has an Iroc-Z and a Cutlass calling others morons. Now that's funny!

CanUSpare a dime

Random thoughts:

1) How many people regularly check the pressure in their spare tire? (once every few years)

2) How many people have used a temporary spare tire for extended distances or at speeds greater than the warning label? (never over a few K miles, never over 85 mph)

3) How many people know how to use their jack and how to remove the spare tire from the undercarriage (pickups, SUV's)? (wierd Q dude)

4) How many people would rather wait for roadside assistance than get hot, dirty and frustrated by changing a flat tire?
(this form of thinking is alien, odd)

Random thoughts are always stupid and pointless. Yours follow form.
(wow, friendly \person)

mynot

We do quite a lot of long distance driving around NA. There is no way I will be stuck in North Dakota in early January with a flat and no spare and hours from everything. One time in Florida I received a 2” drywall screw through the sidewall of a German made Z rated Good Year tire. A replacement was not available locally and it took the Tire Rack 4 days to have a replacement shipped. In the mean time I had changed locations and without a full size comparable spare I would have been screwed. I hope the auto makers are reading this and reconsider their ways. Even if they don't install a spare at least accommodate one in the car design so it can be added later.

A run-flat will work in the city but not on a long haul. I don't think you could drive 600 miles a day on a run-flat which will no longer hold air.

Lastly on run-flats: The sidewall must be stiffer so it will work when there is no air in it. Will that not affect the smoothness of the ride plus the road noise? When it is time to replace them, from what I have seen you will pay quite a bit more.

Ann Pasternak

I was in total shock yesterday when I got a sidewall blowout on my Kia Soul. What, no spare? Who doesn't tell a perspective customer this. Boy was I angry. And to top it off after we got the car towed to Kia, there wasn't the tire I needed in the whole State of Oregon. Crazy. Next time I buy a car, the first thin I will ask is to show me the spare tire.

But even space-saver spares may not have a place in the autos of the future. That's because car wheels have grown due to consumer preference for eye-catching alloy wheels, meaning the size of spare that will work safely with the three intact tires has also increased.

snuggles

It's disgusting. I tried to use a sealant can in a not to big leak. It did not work because what ever made the puncture did not stay in the tire so the sealant goop just blew out of the hole.

Fortunately I did have a space saver spare and could change it, no need to wait for road service.

It's bad enough you don't get a full size spare but, not even a temp spare is outrageous.

Charles Shaver

I just pruchased a 2013 Chevy SPark, and it too don't have a spare tire, jack or lug wrench, I have been bugging the dealer about it and it was hopeless, so I called the roadside assistance and talked to John, but I doubt that it will make any difference. Like others the dealer told me that I could pruchase a spare tire
"KIT" but it don't come with the car. Excuse me I thought that all new cars come with a new spare tire, jack and lug wrench.............

Steve

In 28 years of driving, I've been lucky to only have to change 2 flat tires on my vehicles. I'm happy there was a spare there when I needed it. But manufactures who do this are literally looking penny wise/pound foolish by claiming to reduce weight by offering no spare tire to get better mpgs. And what is with the HUGE rims on these little cars today. Would a spare even fit if it had one?

Nadia Mackins

I got a tear in my sidewall today on a break from work in my Kia Soul. A spare tire would have been much appreciated, I don't care about gas mileage, I am now stuck with no way back to work and no way to get the tire fixed until tomorrow. I don't have money to call a tow truck and now I'm at risk of losing my job because of no spare tire.

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App
Ask.cars.com