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
Click table images to enlarge.