/ 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.

tony hewitt says:
28 October 2016

I have bought a Mercedes GLA AMG and didnt realise it didnt have a spare wheel , I complained and was sold a space saver wheel, only one problem , there is no space for this to fit. They usually go under the boot floor but there is not enough space for this. I would not have bought the car if I had realised this, I change from a Jaguar which has a full size spare wheel and I will be changing back to a Jag next car change.

Jean E says:
7 November 2016

Its an absolute disgrace that car manufacturers are getting away with this. I’ve just bought a new Vauxhall Viva unknowingly it had no spare wheel. I went back to Evans Halshaw to complain and made to feel that I was making a fuss and that I shouldn’t need a spare. I have had 5 punctures in the previous 2 years in my previous car so I insisted I wanted one. It has cost me over £200 to get small space saver wheel and tool kit.
Their attitude was that 99% of cars are now sold without spare wheels and you can just ring a breakdown company if you get a puncture so I should accept it. I came out of the showroom and In the car park opposite was a young man with a puncture who had waited nearly 2 hours for a rescue truck as he had no spare wheel.. These car dealers have no respect or care about a customer once they have bought their vehicle.

Joan Harle says:
7 November 2016

It would be interesting to know how many car manufacturers personally keep a spare in their vehicle. I think its disgusting to hold drivers to ransom in this way. Vehicle recovery companies must be delighted when winter hits and their workload triples because of this unnecessary inconvenience. I wouldn’t buy a car that didn’t have a spare, I would shop around elsewhere, if enough people did this it could help make the cheapskate manufacturers sit up and listen The unfortunate thing is the unsuspecting public who assume a spare will be provided (after all it makes common sense ) don’t realise until after the fact. SPREAD THE WORD


The default specification should include a full-size spare. People who don’t want one could have a roadside assistance contract instead or a price reduction. Even if you have a temporary spare the chances are you will have to call out your roadside assistance company anyway because you can’t release the wheel-nuts or operate the jack [or even lift the damaged wheel without getting a hernia] but you’re better off with a proper running wheel that can stay on the car while the damaged tyre is repaired or replaced.

A further point is that if the car is supplied with a full-size spare wheel there will be a proper place to keep it which can be used to accommodate the damaged wheel after removal. Without such a space, and a car full of passengers, where is the damaged wheel supposed to go? There really is no substitute for a full-size spare wheel and tyre.

Rachel Smith says:
10 December 2016

My husband works for the RAC. ‘Wheel change no spare’ comes up on the job description far too often these days. A can of foam cannot repair a tyre that has been shredded! A lot of the jobs are out of hours so all the tyre shops are shut. Sometimes he can use the ‘Universal wheel’ that they carry, but that does not fit all types of car, and the problem is still not solved as the universal wheel needs to be given back to the patrol for the next unsuspecting motorist that gets a puncture. If the universal wheel is not suitable, this leads to a recovery truck being needed to deposit the car in perhaps a not convenient place if the motorist is a long distance from where they need to be.

This is all supposed to be about saving emissions. It actually leads to lives being endangered on the side of the road, so much time wasted, and very costly if the can of foam has been used as the tyre usually has to be scrapped.

When we buy a new car, if there is no spare wheel offered, we will take our business elsewhere.

bishbut says:
17 October 2017

Most cars that come with a puncture repair kit still have the original space for a spare wheel You can buy one from the dealer at great expense but it will have a brand new tyre which may never be used Try a scrap yard for a wheel and tyre for your make and model Quite new cars are written off and scrapped Much cheaper too

Ann Moore says:
16 October 2017

I bought a new Citroen C4 and asked for spare wheel! It was agreed until I came to pick it up and there was an inflation kit in it! I have had three punctures resulting in new tyres being bought! What a pain I can change a wheel but all occasions I have had to limp the car to garage to sort problem! Arrrggghh I do not feel safe with no spare! Will not be buying future car with no spare its a joke


I wonder how many cars come with a spare wheel these days.

I used to have frequent punctures and it is not funny to have to replace a tyre after about 1000 miles. Since I retired early, five years ago, I have not had a single puncture. I think that confirms my thought that it was the screws that contractors dropped in the car parks at work that were the main problem.