/ Motoring

Got a puncture? Spare wheels need to make a comeback

Getting a puncture has to be one of the most frustrating and irritating aspects of driving. But is the situation made worse when you lift the boot to only find tyre sealant and a pump, rather than a spare wheel?

It wasn’t that long ago when every new car came fitted with a full-size spare wheel. Yes, that did mean carrying extra weight on every single journey, but when you needed one, they were little hassle to fit and would instantly remedy the issue, allowing you to continue driving as normal.

But now, with the introduction of space saver wheels, run-flat tyres and puncture repair kits, the days of full-size spare wheels are almost over.

The alternatives aren’t up to scratch

As you might have guessed, a space saver wheel isn’t quite as wide as your car’s full-size wheel and tyre, which allows for more boot space. However, you can only drive on it at certain speeds. Run-flat tyres have stronger side walls, meaning you can still drive on them when they’re deflated. However, these tend to give you a harsh ride, even when you don’t have a puncture.

But as much as I have my gripes with those two, it’s the tyre goo and pump kits that I dislike most. Not only are they fiddly to use, they don’t fill you with too much confidence that the rest of your journey’s going to be a safe one.

At best, these repair kits should only be a short-term fix for your flat tyre.

Bring back spare wheels

That’s why finding out whether a car has a full-size spare wheel in the boot is important to me when I’m shopping for a new car. Despite the weight-saving advantages and improved boot space offered by repair kits, I’m not willing to compromise on the practicality and safety provided by a spare wheel.

So, it’s a massive disappointment that the full-size spare wheel is edging closer to extinction. But does it matter to you?

Are you happy for your future punctures to be rectified by goo and a pump? Or would you like to see spare wheels making a comeback, even if they limit the space in your car boot?

Fill in our new Which? car spare wheels survey and tell us what you think.

What should carmakers offer as a remedy for a punctured tyre?

A spare wheel should come as standard with all cars (79%, 1,053 Votes)

A space-saver wheel or run-flat tyre should come as standard (15%, 203 Votes)

A spare wheel should be an optional extra (2%, 32 Votes)

I don’t mind what carmakers offer (2%, 23 Votes)

A puncture repair kit is fine (1%, 16 Votes)

A space-saver wheel or run-flat tyre should be an optional extra (1%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,343

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Bazza says:
11 October 2014

To widen the discussion slightly, my three requirements are:
1. Spare wheel definitely; space-saver ok.
2 Manual handbrake not electro-mechanical.
3 Cost of replacing a headlight bulb (can be over £300 on some cars as front bumper and
wheel-arch liner have to be removed).
I feel the spare wheel message is not getting through to the manufacturers because every
car salesman I’ve spoken to lately agrees with me, though that may be salesmen’s bull****.

31 October 2014

still waiting for space saver 4th week (from volvo dealer-v-sweden) got a old type space saver from scrape yard fits in floor of 2014 volvo v60 with covers out floor lid shuts ok.wheel,jack tyre spanner £25.most importantly the s/s wheel is same height as wheels on car..safety first all should have proper spare wheel by law,insurance, and driver should be able to change it at road side as part of driving test.happy motoring.batman

Brian Holland-Jones says:
2 July 2018

Likewise we were in Northumberland ( again on a Saturday afternoon ). Driving my Mercedes C220CDi CDi Estate in a narrow lane, trying to avoid oncoming vehicle, caught the grass verge with front wheel on passenger side. Didn’t realise any damage TIL we got to Amble. Then scrunching noises and heavy steering, tyre flat. All four tyres new two weeks earlier !
50 mph tyre in the boot ! Phew ! What would’ve (in our late 70s) have done if only had sealant. I changed the wheel. Got back to accommodation and ordered a new tyre ( in case ?). Which HAD to be replaced at ATS in Morpeth on Wednesday.
From that Saturday until Wednesday driving, at times, on single carriageway of the A1 M at 50 mph, gives other road users the willies as they can’t pass !
One of, to me, the problems with have a full size Vehicle Make spare is that virtually all tyres these days need to be correct for the left, right, front or rear wheel becaus of their fixed direction of travel.

Helen Newark says:
29 November 2014

Well it has to be a definate spare wheel having just had a puncture and using the pump and liquid supplied with the car which did diddly squat as the whole in the tyre was too large for it to cope with. Four hours later having had excellent service from the AA we were back on the road. What should have been a five hour journey ended up as a nine hour journey. If I had had a spare wheel it would have only put half an hour on the journey. BRING BACK THE SPARE WHEEL


Cant agree more as BWM 1 put my daughter @risk with no spare or any repair kit @ all .
I owned one for over ten years @ great cost and now drive audi as wanted full spare wheel as car tens of thousands pounds should have on and has great eco spec ! Car makers are putting their own customers @ risk as you never know where you will be stranded if no a small nail hole to seal as you can usually drive to a tyre depot then .Daughters 1series tyre got rippen on road sign so had to have spare to be of ant use not to mention MC gard locking nuts which have huge problems to get off ! No woman should consider a car without a spare as no fellow driver can help you even !!
We will choose her next car and it wont be bmw or any other without a spare ! Vote with you cash as they cant survive without us customers , local dealer knew less than i as i contacted scurity bolt maker direct they supply drill kit to remove as mus only be fitted by hand tool !!



I have been looking at the Which new car reviews for information on which cars have spare/spacesaver wheels, but so far without success…

Surely the best way to help readers to make an informed choice is to provide a list of such cars?

Patrick Taylor says:
28 November 2017

Excellent request Colin. Whilst punctures are rare so are house fires but we still buy insurance.

Having a viable spare tyre is a practical anticipation of future potential problems. May I make a plea for people to go with the all season tyres introduced over the last couple of years where the rubber remains supple down to zero degrees. This is relevant to the British and northern european climate.

Whilst they cannot be as good as the best summer or winter tyres that is an irrelevance as those are extremes from specialised tyre design. Rather similar argument to saying a family car is not as fast as an F1 nor as capacious as a Transit. People buy sensible compromises.

“The French Sécurité Routière (a road safety organization) estimates that 9% of all road accidents involving fatalities are attributable to tyre under-inflation, and the German DEKRA (a product safety organization) estimated that 41% of accidents with physical injuries are linked to tyre problems.
In the U.S., NHTSA data relate that tyres leak air naturally and over a year a typical new tyre can lose from 20 to 60 kPa (3 to 9 psi), roughly 10%, or more, of its initial pressure.”

Bear in mind that in cold weather your tyre pressure will lessen as the air becomes denser just aggravating the dangers from tyres.

Patrick Taylor says:
28 November 2017


Only 193 pages but the most pertinent I have seen so far is this reduction in accidents
Grip accidents on dry road, below zero Summer tyre vs Winter tyre
45.8% / 0.816