/ Motoring

Marooned on NYE: going spare with a puncture repair kit

Tyre making skid mark on road

When you’re stuck at the side of the road with a punctured tyre and no spare wheel, a tyre repair kit is little consolation; as I found out on New Year’s Eve.

If there’s one night you need to be able to rely on your car, it’s New Year’s Eve when you’re driving home very late at night. And if there’s one infuriating place to end up with a flat tyre at 2am, it’s outside a closed tyre shop. However, this was the start to my 2014.

And so we return to one of Which? Convo’s most popular debates – spare wheels. Have you ever been marooned at the side of the road, all because you didn’t have a spare?

Spare tyres vanish from new cars

Driving back from a family party, the tyre pressure warning light came on in my mum’s 2012 Skoda Octavia. Having bought the car recently, none of us knew whether the Octavia had a full-sized spare, a skinny space-saver tyre, or nothing at all.

Sadly, flipping up the boot floor revealed nothing more than a tyre repair kit. If we’d had an ordinary spare tyre it would have been a simple tyre swap and we could have been back on our way.

However, we ended up fighting with the puncture repair kit for nearly 30 minutes. And one thing was clear – with tyre sealant spewed all over the road and the tyre refusing to re-inflate – the tyre was dead, leaving us marooned at the side of the road. And now we also had a spent tyre repair kit.

Forced to call for roadside assistance

Consequently we had to wait 53 minutes for a recovery truck to tow us home – all because most car companies don’t think it’s worth including a spare tyre. Madness.

Still, nearly 40 miles from home and with RAC Roadside cover only allowing 10 miles of towing, the RAC wanted to charge around £150 to take us home – twice the price of a temporary space-saver spare wheel from Skoda. Thankfully, the car is under warranty and covered by Skoda’s breakdown cover, meaning we got a free tow. But we still didn’t get home until after 4am.

Had the car been fitted with a spare tyre, we would’ve been home over an hour earlier and not left with an undriveable car. Suffice it to say, my mum has now bought a spare tyre…

What do you think the solution is? Would you rather a full-size spare, a space saver tyre, run-flat tyres or are you happy with a puncture repair kit and roadside assistance? I’ll leave you with Which? Convo commenter The Bobster’s thoughts:

‘I have recently purchased a Mazda 6 Sport and am dreading having a puncture as it is only supplied with a sealant kit.

‘Car companies will argue that so much weight is saved, but if they were stuck in the back of nowhere and unable to continue their journeys perhaps they would change their minds.’


How many Conversations bemoaning the lack of spare wheels to we have to go through before we qualify for a Which? campaign to get something done about the problem? 🙂

Clearly this is not just a UK problem and hopefully fellow motorists in the EU are equally frustrated. I think this would be a great opportunity for Which? to work with similar organisations in EU countries to get manufacturers to reinstate the spare wheel.

Which? has a useful summary of how many models each manufacturer currently provides with a spare wheel. Unfortunately in a couple of browsers that I have tested, a pop-up obscures some of the information.


I rather though this topic had been concluded – for the vast majority of us a spare wheel is essential with many preferring a full size spare. Should we not now be pursuing the manufacturers / retailers to do what most want|?

Ron W says:
16 January 2014

I agree with Malcolm, the sooner the car makers are forced by public opinion to revert back to Spare Wheels the better. I have recently purchased a Merc B class and was very disappointed to find no spare.
OK I may need to make some space under the boot floor, however I am determined to revert back to a proper spare wheel by purchasing a new wheel and getting rid of the solution based repair kit.


Before you go any further, measure the size of the big run-flat tyre and see if there is anywhere to put a spare. I fear that you could be disappointed again.


Jaguars sell a space saver wheel for £150-00 or a full size spare for £350-00

Derek Ash says:
8 January 2014

christofer’s mum’s car must have had a really serious puncture because from my experience tyres do not deflate quickly with punctures these days, giving you plenty of time to have a repair done. when I bought my landrover freelander 2 at auction I took it home and after a few days discovered : “no spare!” I contacted the previous owner (a landrover dealer) and asked them if they had it in their workshop and had mistakenly failedto refit it when sending it to the sale. I had not realised some cars these days have no spare fitted but that is exactly what I was told and despite my comment regarding modern tyres I still find it unnerving to know I have no spare (only a repair kit). I have tried to get a second hand spare but have had no luck after 10 months and am seriously thinking of buying a new rim (I have a tyre). My view is that spares should be included when selling cars new but for a vehicle with big wheels and tyres such as a landrover they should be the slim, get-you-to-the-garage size because they would be liftable by most people.


Here is another reason for tackling the problem.

Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. It is evident that the puncture repair kits supplied with many cars frequently do not repair punctures and therefore are not fit for their purpose.


My BMW suffered a puncture on Christmas Eve and I had to abandon my car outside a BMW dealer which was both a long distance from home and a long distance from my destination. Fortunately BMW satnavs can find you the closest BMW dealer quickly. Less fortunately, the so-called “run flat” tyres are often anything but. You’re supposed to be able to continue your journey for 150 miles at up to 50mph, but the tyre had come off the wheel after the 20-mile journey to the nearest BMW dealer. This whole concept needs a rethink, both run-flat tyres and puncture repair kits.

Brian Wootton says:
9 January 2014

My car has no spare wheel, it has however, got ContiSeal tyres. I had the warning light come up on the dash which told me one tyre was significantly different to the other 3. I kicked them and decided they were all hard enough to drive home.
When I got home one tyre had 36psi, the other 3 had 41psi(correct) – I looked at the tyre and saw a screw embedded in the tread. My tyre repair man said ‘pump it back up to 41psi and I will be along with a new tyre(£175) in 3 days. Don’t touch the screw the tyre will be OK to drive around on’.
When he turned up with the tyre he said that the duff tyre had not lost any air and he would just remove the screw and plug the hole in the usual fashion as there was no other damage to the tyre(£30).
The tyre repairer gave me the bit of screw he took out of my tyre and I immediately recognised it as one of the same ones that an odd job man had used to repair the wife’s shed, so I probably picked it up from my own drive, mutter, mutter, that job was done 4 months previously, how long the screw had been in the off-side rear tyre of my car is anybody’s guess but it could have been some considerable time before the car warning system noticed it.
The moral of this story, as far as I am concerned, is that I will only buy ContiSeal tyres for my car, they do a good 30,000 miles by the look of them any way.
They are expensive tyres – one firm quoted me £242 a tyre