/ 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?

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.


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

The tyres on space-saver wheels are normally inflated to higher pressures than normal tyres and lose pressure more quickly. I check my spare three times a year. I have seen one unused space-saver where the pressure had fallen to around half the correct pressure in storage.

Thursday. Skoda Yeti. Had a puncture today. Tyre repair kit did “diddly squat” last two punctures. Kwik-fit mobile cannot attend till Saturday morning. Its time manufacturers got at least a space saver back in the car.Good car but would not have another new or secondhand without a spare tyre. Manufacturers listen to your customers.

Robert Read says:
15 May 2015

On returning from holiday in France at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon I had a puncture. The inside tyre wall was damaged so the sealant and run flat options would have been useless. Little chance of finding a tyre service at that time and probably no service until Monday. My insurer would have to have borne the cost of accommodation and vehicle transportation. I had a space saver spare but was uncertain as to whether I could drive safely to Eurotunnel and then a further 90 miles in England on it. I called the Mercedes Benz emergency number and was advised to fit the space saver, obey its speed constraints and continue my journey.

Driving at this speed at 50 mph on main French roads and later in England was stressful and of inconvenience to other road users. There was also the constant worry of how the space saver tyre was standing up. I had concerns over safety and vulnerability. Happily, I was able to get home in one piece, although several hours behind schedule. Eurotunnel were very helpful.

Many motor manufacturers are putting space saving and mpg performance figure above customer safety and stress and potentially transferring any savings they may make onto the costs for insurance companies.

My experience made me resolve that I would never buy another car without a full sized spare wheel which could be accommodated properly. When I changed my car recently I discounted several manufacturers in the class I was interested in for a Kia Sportage which has a full sized spare wheel as standard.

ferkemall says:
3 September 2015

Drive any car into an MOT shop with space saver tyre on it and they won’t MOT it , the regulations state that an Axel must have 2 tyres of the same size and type .

These space savers are dangerous in the snow /wet .
Filling it with foam means it may get you home even it its a new tyre when you take it to get repaired they won’t repair it .
Just sling a full size one in the back and forget about fashion or looks better to be safe than sorry !

ferkemall says:
3 September 2015

Well if nothing else good can be said of a Renault modus it does have a full size spare and its under car so the boot space is not compromised !
I know its it only saving grace !

Son Has Just Bought His First New Car Fiesta Zetec. First Thing I did in the showroom was check the boot for spare. To which there was one however transpires only available as an optional Extra. You do however get a full wheel not a razor blade!
So made him buy the optional extra. He saved money instead on only having 2 doors instead of 4 and keeping it Red instead of one of the colours you have to pay for!
Me, I’ll stick with my 318,000 mile Sierra with 2 Spare Alloy wheels !!

T h reed says:
17 November 2015

I have had two nissan qashqai the first thing I bought was a space saver kit (£200). Transfered it to the second car. Feel a lot happier with that in the boot.

Barry says:
22 January 2016

I Have purchased and fitted a zafira wheel rack and brand new wheel and tyre very easy job 1 frame Vauxhall part 2 nuts 3 small screws whole job 10 mins at home 1 socket spanner 1 screwdriver .Total cost £ 208. Garage quote £460 Robbers !!!! Very pleased ready now for my annual trip to Spain money and effort Well worth it !!

Thinking of buying a Mazda CX-5, big BUT no spare wheel. Have a colleague who has purchased the spare wheel “Kit” from Mazda. a rip off, they even sell a duplicate floor cover board. this cant be right.
If Mazda try to sell me the same I shall go elsewhere, or to a scrapyard & buy a full-size wheel & jack.
Come on guys get back to supplying the spare wheel.

27 November 2017

If a spsce save was any good you would be able to m.O.T the car with it fitted, but you cannot because it is not safe when it starts raining / snow ect,but this is the uk and it is always bloody raining !

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

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It was a very bad decision on the part of many manufacturers and there is no environmental justification for it. Safety must always take priority. Having a full-size spare wheel and tyre are essential. I don’t understand the claim that people don’t have the skill to change the wheel – you have to change the wheel whether it is a full-size or space saver that has to be fitted in the event of a puncture. Having a full size spare also means there is somewhere to put the full-size wheel that is damaged. I have noticed that a large number of commenters here have said they will not buy a car without a full-size spare wheel and tyre.

It’s worth checking that you can loosen the wheel bolts with the wheel wrench. My father taught me to put a trace of grease on the threads to prevent them rusting, but none where the wheel and bolt make contact. It’s also worth finding out where the jacking points are.

I am going to glue a piece of rubber to the foot of my jack. It slipped recently when I tried to use it, leaving the car jacked up but the handle unable to rotate. Another alternative would be to put a rubber mat under the foot of the jack.

I got a jack wheel brace etc. with my new car but no spare wheel of any kind just a puncture repair kit ! A bit daft isn’t it There is space for a full sized wheel which the dealer would supply for some exorbitant cost a space saver costs almost as much Now looking round car dismantlers for a used one

With no spare wheel you need two jacks so you can change the wheels round [unless you leave that to the periodic service].

It would be helpful if Which? could provide a list of new cars that are provided with full-size and space-saver wheels as standard. Maybe @aporter could help us here.

My tyres wear evenly so it’s years since I have switched them around. In fact I have just given away a set of car jacks that have not been used for years. My father acquired them when he had an Austin A35 in the late 50s, and looked old then.

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The skinny spare wheel for my car looks about right for an A35. 🙁

When I said that my tyres wear evenly, I meant across the width of the tread.

I see you have discovered wc’s Russian past, duncan 🙂 Were you a Which? subscriber you would have received the Autumn 1957 (first one) magazine which has a full test of the Austin A35 (described as a 2+2, and no ashtrays). It recommends putting a little extra pressure in the rear tyres when the boot is full to correct a tendency to oversteer.

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I’m afraid we don’t have that information, though I would also also be interested to find that out myself – as well as the average cost of a space saver if not standard, and where the trim level of a car makes a difference as to what you get/can get.

I’ve just submitted a question to the press desk of CAP hpi to find this out, I’ll report back if I hear anything.

Thanks Adrian. It would be very useful if Which? could do some research because we have had several Convos on spare wheels. When I was buying my present car I made it clear that I was not interested in buying a car without a spare wheel.

No worries at all. I’ve already had a call from CAP this morning and they are looking into it. Admittedly I asked them a number of questions so it might take them a while to come back to me with answers, but it looks like they are on the way!

It might be easier to find out which cars are available with a spare wheel. According to the RAC, nine out of ten new cars are not: https://www.confused.com/on-the-road/maintenance/death-of-the-spare-tyre

After I had a puncture recently I asked some friends if they had a spare and all but one did. A couple had bought a spare wheel and jack separately from buying the car. Others had fairly old cars, dating from when spare wheels were more common.

The biggest problem is that some manufacturers are selling cars with no provision for storing a spare wheel.

Brian Holland-Jones says:
2 July 2018

Does anyone think that raising the all the cases here re the Safety aspects of run flats/ sealant problems v Full size spare wheels with the Department of Transport and/or your EuroMP/ local MP help to get legislation changes in the UK (or Europe). To force vehicle manufacturers to deal with this or bar their brands from selling in the UK, if no full-size spare in every new car ?
If so why aren’t WHICH taking that on ?