/ Motoring

Only a third of new cars come with a spare wheel

Car wheel with a puncture

I’ve learnt that the demise of the spare wheel concerns you just as much as it concerns me. And our latest investigation has found even fewer spare wheels are being made available as standard on new cars.

We analysed the specifications of 8,755 mainstream new car models on the market currently. And we found just 29.5% come with a space-saver or full-size spare wheel as standard. The majority (50%) come with a tyre repair kit, while the remaining 20.5% have run-flat tyres fitted. See the table at the bottom of this post to find out how individual manufacturers are doing.

It seems that the manufacturers’ efforts to make vehicles more fuel efficient is driving this shift from full-size spare wheels to puncture repair kits. But that doesn’t necessarily make the cars more cost effective, as we discovered in our recent spare wheel investigation.

The true cost of puncture repair kits

Many new car models now come with an emergency tyre sealant and compressor/inflator pack instead of a spare wheel. The tyre sealant has to be squirted into the tyre itself and is designed to plug the damaged area of the tyre, allowing the motorist to drive to the nearest tyre centre to have it replaced or repaired.

So we contacted five franchised dealers of the five car brands offering the lowest number of new car models with spare wheels included as standard. We asked these dealers how much it would cost to replace a canister of tyre sealant.

Our research found that replacing a one-use tyre sealant canister can cost up to £50. See our table at the bottom of this post to find out the range of costs from different manufacturers. Yet the cost of selecting a full spare wheel as an option when you purchase a car can be less – as little as £20 in the case of Mini.

To add to the case for spare wheels, in our latest survey, 60% of you with spare wheels said tyre punctures had cost you less than £50 to fix, while 55% of those with puncture repair kits said it had cost more than £100.

It’s also important to bear in mind that many tyre centres will not repair a tyre that has been filled with any sealant. Some water-based sealants – like those offered by Honda – can be flushed out to allow the tyre to be repaired, though you will have to visit a franchised dealer to have this work carried out.

Spare wheels need to make a comeback

Ultimately, using a puncture repair kit will usually mean you having to buy a new tyre. And with the condition of UK roads worsening, punctures are becoming more frequent. The RAC told us they attended 340,000 puncture related incidents in 2012 – an increase of 17,000 on 2011. In fact, of the 670 people who have completed our spare wheel survey so far, more than half have had a puncture in the last three years.

We’ve already met with some car-makers to discuss the future of the spare wheel. However, the response so far is that they haven’t received enough feedback from owners voicing their concerns about the lack of spare wheels as standard.

And yet, 1,393 of you responded to our poll last year, with 93% saying spare wheels should be offered as standard on all cars. Only 1% were in favour of having a tyre repair kit as standard.

So if you haven’t completed it already, please fill in our spare wheel survey. It only takes a few minutes, and we can use your responses, as well as your comments below, to show car-makers that people still want spare wheels included as a no-cost option on all new cars.

Percentage of new cars with spare wheels

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Click table images to enlarge.

Comments
Guest
Carol Gadd says:
9 October 2014

I complained to Renault when they asked me if I was happy with my new car, ( Renault Clio Medianav) about a month after I bought it. The young lady I spoke to arranged for Renault Canterbury to collect the car and fix a proper spare tyre under the car ( that’s where it is on them now – not in the boot) .It was returned to me by a gentleman in the afternoon and I paid £99 for this to be done. I thought this was a reasonable cost as it is a proper spare wheel and obvioulsy I was also given the tools to use to fix the spare. Another man from Renault Canterbury then telephoned me and said if I would like to pop into the showroom in Canterbury at any time , they would show me how to remove the spare from under the car. However I had worked it out myself ( even though I’m a woman!). But I thought Renaults service & help in this matter was excellent. So just speak out & Renault ,certainly will listen and help.

Guest
Roger says:
9 October 2014

I wish Mercedes was as helpful as Renault! (Do the manufacturers ever look at these blogs) Their response to the lack of a spare is “Its been forced on us by the EC” Effectively they are saying that we will have to get used to not having a spare! I was thinking of getting their new C class, but that has lost any spare (and a space for it) Instead you get and aerosol of stuff which we know a) doesn’t work on many punctures and b) means a new tyre as it cannot be cleaned.

Guest
Carol Gadd says:
9 October 2014

two of my friends refused to buy a new car unless it had a proper spare. I complained & gave all the reasons why I wanted a proper tyre not a repair kit or spacer tyre. I feel safer with a real tyre & don’t care if it means I pay more road tax or slightly more for the car. I think they are really doing it for cheapness. They need to realise the customer is important & that they shouldn’t impose these things on us if we dont want them or are not consulted on the change. So complain like I did. I also wrote to two Car magazine, the RAC & AA and BBC watchdog. ( Same letter to all) If we all do this then things will get done & they will take account of the customers preferences.

Guest
glen abel says:
27 April 2015

I would love to have more detail on the parts involved in installing the wheel under the car. mounting brackets, size of wheel etc and if they could be available in Australia. I have anew Renault RS sport trophy and this is they main issue I have as I cannot relax when I am travelling long distances and the potential issues if I have a puncture.

Guest

i agree i have a c350 which came with a 5inch width tyre as a spare but you can get a 7.5 inch width tyre and wheel in the spare wheel compartment. i wont buy a car without a spare wheel so i dont know what to replace it with. but why dont mercedes put a proper wheel in the c350 instead of a space saver when it fits in the spare wheel compartment

Guest
Brian says:
9 October 2014

I have followed with interest the various conversations surrounding this subject.

I find that the weight saving, fuel consumption, environment argument used by manufacturers to justify the removal of the a spare wheel (in any form) is insincere and misleading. The substitution of the spare with a can of ‘gunk’ which invariably does not work, and necessitates a new tyre being fitted, is a pure question of economics and increased profit margins on the part of the manufacturers.

The extra call on breakdown and emergency services and the dangers of being stranded without a viable means of dealing with a puncture negates any ‘environmental savings’ and is unacceptable to a great many of the motoring public. A combined approach from Government, Breakdown Services, Emergency Services and Consumer Groups (throughout the EU) might generate sufficient pressure to reverse this trend.

Taking the fuel consumption/weight reduction argument to a further, illogical step forward the manufacturers could reduce the capacity of their fuel tanks by say 50% – after all fuel is heavy!!!!! Or, as has already been suggested, reduce the size of the car’s boot and passenger space!!!!!!

Guest
JohnGLav says:
9 October 2014

Well put. Couldn’t agree more.

It’s about time we stopped giving any credence to the manufacturer’s excuses. It’s pure greed on their part.

Guest
Carol Gadd says:
9 October 2014

Buying a new tyre and having to have the old one got rid of, as the tyre companies often will not mend tyres that have the gunge from these repair kits -( probably because it takes time to get it all out!) isn’t environmentally friendly. That should be a good enough reason to give a proper tyre.

Guest

We can whinge all we want but perhaps the only way to be sure of making our voice is heard is to say to the car dealer that we will not even consider cars that don’t come with a spare wheel. If you know of anyone planning to buy a new car, let them know about the problems of having no spare and hopefully they will join our campaign.

Guest
Carol Gadd says:
9 October 2014

Also write a letter about it and send copies to Car magazine, AA. RAC, Transport minister & local newspapers & BBC consumer programmes and Car programmes. You only need one letter & the more we all do this the more the car companies will Have to listen to us & not just make these decisions without asking us for our opinions.

Guest
Mitch says:
11 October 2015

I went to a BMW showroom at the weekend and discovered that the 3 series F31 I was interested in has no space for a spare wheel -the exhaust rear box section occupies the space that could have been otherwise the spare wheel well. When they call back to chase up the sale I will be informing them that the 3 series is no longer on my short list because of the lack of a spare. Perhaps more genuine customers should do this and maybe the message will best back to the designers – after all it’s such an easy fix.

Guest

I recently bought a used Citroen DS4 D-style with a puncture repair kit in the spare-wheel well. Had I bought the car new, I could have spacified a space-saver spare as an ‘option’ for £100. But as this was a used car, this avenue was not available. However when I said that I didn’t want to buy a car with no spare wheel, the dealership got me a new space-saver wheel/tyre, jack and wheel-brace all for just an extra £100 which I thought was a good deal and good service. I could not have a full-sized spare as the wheel well houses parts for the electronic handbrake system.

Guest
John Douglas says:
9 January 2015

I have a 12 plate Renault Megane Tourer. My only niggle is that it came without a spare, only a can of jollop which was totally useless when I needed a spare. I drive in rural Cumbria, The roads are badly maintained. In a narrow lane I moved over to give room the a white van hurtling rond a bend, clipped the verge and ripped a 2inch long slash through the side wall. The tyre deflated instantly. So with no spare I had to call the breakdown insurers (Swinton) within around 40mins the truck was with me and the car was taken on a truck to the tyre shop. We arrived at 16:30, Tyre shop had the tyre in stock and fitted it straight away. Now that was at 24:30, i.e. working hours on a weekday. What would have happened had this incident occurred on a Bank Holiday Saturday afternoon with no tyre shops until Tuesday morning? No spare is about the most stupid idea that ever crossed the manufacturers’ minds. In future when I buy a car it will be with a spare or in with the normal sticker price of NO SALE!

Guest
Carol Gadd says:
10 February 2015

I had this happen to me in a friends car , last year on a visit to France. His tyre had a puncture so he had to put the spacer wheel on. It was a public holiday and at 5. in the afternoon on Saturday all tyre repair centres were closed. Sunday all tyre centres were closed & the same on Monday as it was a Saints day ! Luckily we did find a garage who had their showroom open who were kind enough to call in a fitter who repaired our puncture. We missed our crossing & had to spend two days in France – all because we had no spare tyre.

Guest
George says:
7 February 2015

I recently got a puncture, the tyre inflation kit was useless as there was a 2″ split in the side wall.I called KWIK FIT mobile repairs and was asked when I would like an appointment. As soon as possible I said and told them the situation, sorry it will take 2 days for an appointment. Called the RAC they came had a look and said we can’t put our emergency spare wheel on a 4X4 I’ll have to take it and get it repaired. 3 1/2 hours after setting off for a 1/2 hour journey I returned home 2 1/2 hours after I was supposed to take my INSULIN. So please put the spare wheels back in the cars to stop this happening and possibly causing a fatality to someone like me.

Guest

Does WHICH? publish a check list of new cars with spare wheels?

Guest

Hi Colin – I’ve been having a chat with our Car Team about your query. I’m afraid we’ve recently removed this data from the website as it was out of date. We’ll look into adding it in the future as we know all of you are very keen on having this information. Thanks.

Guest

Sorry to be a nuisance Andrew, but could you also find out if Which? is still encouraging manufacturers to provide spare wheels? Last year we heard about universal spare wheels that came in a couple of sizes, allowing breakdown services to carry spares that would fit the majority of cars. We could really do with a new Convo if there is any sign of help forthcoming for the motorist.

Thanks for all the posts you have made today. 🙂

Guest

Andrew, If I may say so it’s good to see Which? responding to comments on this and other conversations. I have said before these conversations benefit from expert input from Which?, companies involved or targetted by comments, as well as from the general contributors.

Guest

Hi Wavechange. First of all, thanks for the kind words – I’m slowly getting there, haha. Spare wheels are very much on our radar, and manufacturers are aware of our position and everyone’s views on them. I’ll see whether we can share your latest comments with them.

Guest

Thanks, Andrew
Perhaps WHICH? could “encourage” manufacturers by adding a significant score to the BEST BUY calculation for those cars with spare tyres or spacesaver tyres?

Living in the Lake District, I have been running two cars from new for 12,000 miles per year, mainly with an economic 3yr old Honda Jazz Hybrid and a 5yr old Subaru Impreza for bad weather…
my old Impreza has a spare, but the current model doesn’t, and I had to buy a spare for the Hybrid because the space for the spare in the Jazz was taken up with the extra battery for the Hybrid.
Currently, though each has covered only 20,000 miles,because my annual mileage is now much reduced, I am considering replacing both with one, a 4WD for all weather.
Hence the request for your non existent list!

But keep up the good work….Colin Davies

Guest
David says:
9 February 2015

I have just arranged to buy a new Jaguar xf diesel and I raised the subject of a spare wheel I was informed by the dealership that the car does not come with a spare wheel and the reason given by the manufacturers was the extra weight would cause the car to exceed the emissions level beside which Jaguar has carried out a survey that indicate the use of a spare wheel has become less due to the improvement in tyre manufacture. Is this just an excuse to save money or am I being fobbed off or just a cynical old git..

Guest

Is Which? still recommending cars without spare wheels as “best buys”? Last time I looked there were several!
I had a puncture repaired yesterday: detected a slow loss of pressure, went round to my local tyre place yesterday to have it repaired. It was a screw, too close to the sidewall which meant a new tyre. Since I wanted to match the others, it had to be ordered. The spare (space-saver) was fitted – kept me mobile and was able to return in the afternoon to pick up the new tyre, which was swapped back again.
Could someone tell me how this would have played out without a spare?
Thank you Peugeot for still providing a spare (308 II Active bought last year).

Guest

Hi MFriedli, we still very much prefer spare wheels being included over puncture repair kits, however, there are lots of things that make up whether a car is a Best Buy. Frustratingly most new cars come without a spare wheel, so naturally there are Best Buy cars without them. I’ve passed your feedback to our Cars team though. More details about how we test cars can be read here:

http://www.which.co.uk/cars/choosing-a-car/how-we-test-cars/how-we-test-cars-overview/

The situation you’ve described would obviously have been more difficult without a spare wheel. You’d probably have needed to call a recovery service and then manage without a car until your new tyre arrived.

Guest

I wanted to find out which cars came with spare wheels a couple of years ago, but soon learned that it’s not that simple, because it can depend on the exact model. For example, the most economical variant may not have a spare even if others do.

Having a spare wheel is the single most important factor in choosing a car for me, but that is not the case for everyone and I expect that Which? would come in for criticism if they refused to give ‘Best Buy’ status to a car that did not have a spare wheel, especially if that was readily available as an option.

Everyone should think about what hassle the lack of a spare could cause, including those with run-flat tyres.

We have the spare wheel problem, it’s very difficult to change bulbs on some cars. What hassles will be next from car manufacturers?

Guest
Carol Gadd says:
10 February 2015

I think Which should say ” This car comes without a spare wheel” Like the warning on cigarettes. sadly you don’t think about the spare wheel issue until after you have the car and get a puncture. As
a woman I feel much safer with a proper spare wheel – not a spacer or can of repair kit. I think all the excuses the manufacturers give us are just that – excuses. They should listen to us and give us the option we want. My manufacturer (Renault Clio Medianav) did give me a proper spare, but only after I complained . There service then was brilliant with a man coming to my home & taking the car away to be fitted with the spare & then returned in the afternoon. It cost me £100 which I thought was good. It’s just a shame I had to go through the process of getting something I think should come as normal in all cars.

Guest
Alastair Forsyth says:
22 February 2015

My daughters ds3 Citroen checklist showed spare wheel was in car.later when looked there was a compressor and sealant. I got a spare wheel/ tyre from car beaker for 50 pounds a space saver.full size will not fit in wheel well.

Guest
Alastair Forsyth says:
22 February 2015

Got a space saver wheel/tyre from car breakers for my daughters ds3 Citroen for 50 pounds .dumped the sealant kept the compressor.full size tyre won’t fit in boot.

Guest
Andyboy1983 says:
23 February 2015

Just bought a new CLIO DYNAMIQUE MEDIANAV and found out that it only comes with the puncture repair kit. Tried contacting Renault to see if they would help but they just put me on to Arnold Clark who sold me the car. They quoted me just under £300 for the bits (not including the tyre) and then I would have to pay to get it all fitted. Total rip off and will not buy another new car that does not come with a spare.

Guest
Carol Gadd says:
24 February 2015

Get on to Renault as I got mine for £99 & a guy came out and picked up the car & returned it when the spare had been fitted.Go onto the Renault website of Renault owners and kick up a fuss.I had a girl from customer services ring me & I said I was gonna contact all the car mags, which and the TV consumer shows about the fact there was no spare. Just keep stating your point that you want a spare not a repair kit. The RAC & AA & Greenflag hate these kits and some tyre places won’t repair a tyre that has been injected with the kit , so stick to your guns and eventually I’m sure Renault will get a wheel fitted for you for £99 quote that they did it for me so why not you !

Guest
Andyboy1983 says:
25 February 2015

Carol, saw your post and did try with Renault first but they transferred my call to the dealer who sold me the car, will try again but going on what Arnold Clark told me, I will be looking at £500 to get one fitted. Will try what you did and let you know what happens.

Guest
Tricia says:
6 March 2015

Just bought a new clio 2015 as I’m a driving instructor I really need a spare wheel so asked for a price for this plus the carrier underneath and I was quoted £250 just for the carrier.