/ 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.’

Comments
Sal says:
30 March 2016

Same problem.Volvo v60…. yesterday I had flat tyre. NRMA came out and the sealant didn’t work as puncture too deep. they organised the tow truck, however due to the volume of jobs in the area, the tow truck was going to take 2 hours. I had to get to work so left car at the roadside (in a quiet street). Have had to take a day off work tomorrow to organise the tow truck for tomorrow.
While the philosophy is fineas to why there are no spare tyres, the practical issues are enormous. Hope the big wigs who make these decisions are never stuck with a flat tyre and only a repair kit

John says:
28 May 2016

I had nearly decided to get a BMW X1 until I found there was no spare, just run-flats. I ran over a steel bar some time ago and it gashed the sidewall, impossible to repair with repair kit. Fortunately that car had a spare. No way would I have a car without a spare. Quite happy with a space saver however.

Syd Coupland says:
6 February 2017

What an idiotic idea no spare wheel . We left Nottingham on a Tuesday morning to visit our daughter in High Wycombe , crossing the A43 we got a puncture in the front tyre of a BMW 535 . We went to two tyre garages in Brackley ,neither had a run flat tyre but could fit one the following day . We left the car at the second garage .And our daughter fetched us from there to High Wycombe .However the purpose of our visit was for a visit to Windsor Castle on the Wednesday . the result being that we had to be taken back to Brackley on the Thursday . Forty eight hours from puncture to driving again . what an advert for a supposedly prestiege car.
This is my third and last BWM . My next car with have a spare wheel that does not compromise performance
Roadside help can’t help if you have no spare ,we should and would have been on our way again in less than one hour . Put simply the journey would have been quicker in an Austin Seven or Morris Eight .

Does Which? have any statistics on what proportion of punctures are actually repairable with the foam/compressor kit supplied in new cars. I had my first puncture in as many years as I can remember on the M6 on Sunday evening. The tyre was shredded so it was immediately obvious that any amount of foam was not going to do any good. This was on a boat trailer tyre so they may be more prone to that type of failure but it is making me wonder whether I should get a spare for the car as well as the boat?

The false sense of security provided by the foam kit meant I was on the edge of the M6 for 4.5 hours trying to arrange the recovery of the trailer. Just as I was about to drive off a car crashed into the back of the Highways Agency Patrol Vehicle that had come out to assist me. Luckily nobody was seriously injured.

My car came with run-flats and no spare. I bought a matching spare wheel just in case – I don’t want to ruin a repairable run flat if I can avoid it, nor have an enforced overnight stay when no tyre shops are open. The spare will be used when I need to replace worn tyres. The downside is, occasionally, the space it takes up.