/ 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

They are replacing parachutes with untested water wings, volunteers from marketeers @ car & tyre manufacturers get first refusal.

Peter Johnson says:
2 July 2020

I have a 2018 Renault Kadjar Signature model and it might save the manufacturer money but I have just had a puncture and this led to the use of the quick repair solution followed by a trip to Quik Fit and a bill for £237 for a new tyre. I now need a new container of the sealing solution but the service dept of my Renault Dealer has to order this from France so I now have no spare wheel and no way of mending a puncture, but of course this is progress ! By the way another progressive step is to replace the door key with a key fob, lose one of these and replacement is £300 !

JAMES ROBERT LINTON WILSON says:
11 October 2020

I paid over twenty thousand pounds for a new Toyota CH-R Hybrid car and was discussed to find out that I was not supplied with a spare wheel. At the time the car was sold to me I was not told about a policy of no spare wheel or tool kit to change a wheel.
Shame on you Toyota.

James – I am surprised there was no mention of this in the manufacturer’s literature. The absence of a spare wheel would also normally be fairly obvious during an inspection.

When ordering a new car it is usual to sit down with a salesperson and go through the specification to check that you are getting what you want and to add or change features before delivery.

If the car you bought was ‘not as described’ then you have the right to a refund under the Consumer Rights Act 2015: see this Which? guidance –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

According to the manufacturer, each of the variants of the CH-R are provided with a ‘Tyre Repair Kit’ and there is no mention of a spare wheel, jack, etc. being offered as alternatives or as accessories: https://www.toyota.co.uk/download/cms/gben/C-HR%20Price%20List%20Spec%20and%20Equipment%20May%202020_tcm-3060-1952420.pdf

Sadly, most cars don’t come with a spare wheel these days, as the title to this Convo so unless the salesperson said that there was one there is nothing that can be done.

It is years since I last bought a car but I said to the salesman that I would not consider buying a car without a spare wheel.

Apart from any other considerations, it’s possible that a person of normal strength would not be able to remove the wheelnuts on a modern car at the roadside.

If you have had the forethought to put a trace of grease on the wheel bolt threads (not on the flange please) there should be no problem. If not then you could well struggle.

It is the OEM or the tyre garage who will have last fitted tyres. I doubt they put grease on the threads. And they usually tighten them…… very tight. They also recommend you retighten them after a few days. Better safe than sorry.

I had a wheel changed by the AA recently and even they struggled to undo the tyre-shop tightened nuts.

I agree, Wavechange. All you then have to hope for is that the wheel brace supplied is up to the job.

Luckily I haven’t had to do a roadside wheel change for many years and now I’m probably not able to do it anyway without taking a health risk. I would rather call out the RAC than an ambulance.

Phil says:
12 October 2020

Garages and tyre centres routinely overtighten wheel nuts/bolts. I’ve had to put a 4′ length of pipe over the wheelbrace to loosen mine before now and snapped two 3/8″ adaptors. It’s unnecessary and runs the risk of stripping threads or snapping studs or bolts. Always check and re-torque after having work done to save problems if you do get a puncture.

I know the problem, Phil. It does not help when air tools are used to tighten wheel bolts but I believe that formation of rust on the threads of the bolts is the main reason. Greasing the threads means that the bolts remain easy to remove. My local tyre centre uses a torque wrench when tightening wheel bolts.