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.’