/ 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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keith says:
14 October 2012

I have a 2 year old skoda supern 170 dsg TDI, it got 18″ wheels runningon 225 45 18 94 and i have gone throught 6 tyres in six months due to the road surfaces and very thin tyres.

my skoda did not come with a spare nor did it come with a jack or tool kit i was not told about this and was very suprised whan i go my first puncture to find i get a bottle of white stuff and an elecric pump which was useless the liquid came out of the tyre like a fountain. skoda want £180 for a space save spare.
every time i hit the slightest pot hole small or large at speeds of 15mph 30 mph 50 mph i get a puncture and have to call the Rac out ( they have been fantastic and the drivers cannot believe skoda has put such soft tyres on there cars for the UK and not supply a spare of any kind.)
I will never have a car without a spare again it should be law like it is in Spain to have a spare wheel and tyre for your car.
i complained to skoda about not being told and about the price but they would not budge and i have had 9 skoda in the past this one will be my last at £25k it not a cheap car. fed up keith

Eccles says:
15 October 2012

You don’t say what brand of tyres the car came with or you have replaced with.
My previous car came on 235/45 x 17 and my current one is on 235/45 x 18. Over a total of 80k I have suffered only one puncture and that was due to runnining over a 2 inch screw off the back of some builders skip or truck.
I have used Pirelli, Michelin, Goodyear, Continental and Nokian tyres. All came with 7mm starting tread and a set has generally been good for 20k, swapping front to rear at about 15k. I would say I drive briskly but am light on brakes (around 50k a set of pads) so probably a fairly average life per set.
Both cars have a full size alloy spare – 06/06 Passat Sport and 09/59 Passat GT.

Keith Newton says:
29 October 2012

The make of tyres
Continental, and dunlop size. 225/40/18 I have been told by kwik fit that they are a very soft Tyre.

Claymore says:
15 October 2012

At last we should see some action, as this week Watchdog is going to raise the vanishing spare wheel problem on Thurday evening, so I cannot wait to hear the motor trade’s evasions to Ann Robinson. That is if the motor trade are brave enough to appear, although unfortunately, it is the manufacturers who are one step removed from the flak.
Tell all your friends to watch.

Gymm says:
17 October 2012

Can’t remember my last puncture change but all 3 cars I own have space saver wheels. Given the cost of new cars today, the value of a space saver and the cost of a steel spare and tyre (full size) I can’t understand why they are not provided from new. Surely not outrageously expensive. Given the optional extra list for even the cheapest new car I doubt if even the cheapest ‘option’ is cheaper than a steel spare costs. I would not worry about the extra weight carried etc when I needed to fit it. The fact that I could solve it and make the car work as it should is far more important then. Thoughts about how much money I had spent transporting this wheel would never happen. I pay for breakdown cover, insurance for house and car, health insurance, heating cover etc etc and honestly, I am very pleased I don’t use them much, but should I have to, well I can. A full size spare wheel/tyre is the same for me.

paul mecock says:
17 October 2012

i am a roadside patrol and 40% of my work is wheel changes. most do have spare wheels and dont even know it but most people dont know how to change there wheel even if they did. the ones who do dont want to on a busy road or hard shoulder with trucks flying buy so call for roadside assistance. most have a tempery spare to put on to get them to a place of safety or new tyer.you have to ask yous self if they were that bothered they would ask for one when they buy the car as most dealers list it as a opption

I drive a 1992 Ford Sierra. Came with not only a spare wheel …. but a full matching alloy! Trawled e-bay and obtained a further matching alloy. (Unused spare wheel from a scrapyard) got two new H rated tyres with full alloys as spares. Who cares that with extra weight it might add 5p to a journey. I could get two flats (have to be fairly unlucky) and still make it home!
Ps still have plenty of room in the boot for a holiday/weeks shopping etc. Also carry spare clutch cable and alternator /fan belt!
There’s always room for a spare on a new car, it just might have to be loose in the boot. And if it doesn’t fit in, then you havent bought a car you’ve bought a handbag

Claymore says:
17 October 2012

At last – BBC ‘Watchdog’ has raised the spare wheel issue and according to the Gent representing the motoring & manufacturing fraternity, we all have to make a choice on spare wheels at point of sale, which is difficult when some manufacturers have deliberately filled in the spare wheel compartment, but choose not to broadcast the fact. His excuses were pathetic especially after an RAC breakdown driver told of the upsurge in stranded motorists. He even had the cheek to suggest that some new cars have breakdown cover when the car is first purchased – do the breakdown teams carry spare tyre’s? If your tyre is ripped, you will need a tow to a garage and that is what has been forced on the motorist to save the manufacturers a few pounds – It is pathetic!
I really hope this has an impact on sales of the brands who continue to brush the problem aside.

Thanks for saving me from watching Anne Robinson. 🙂

Did you honestly expect anything more?

Until people see cars from a practical and utilitarian point of view, nothing will change. Spare wheels don’t sell cars to many people. Gadgetry does.

Here is a summary of the information presented in the programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mg74/features/spare-tyre

keith says:
16 November 2012

went to look at a Skoda Yeti there is no spare wheel well in the boot floor if you want a spare wheel you have to have a false floor fitted into the boot area option then a spare wheel option money making again

No spare wheel!!!

We are looking to buy a new car and having seen this kit for the first time, we have already decided not to buy any car that has no spare wheel. There are many manufacturers who continue to provide the spare wheel and there is still a choice to preserve sanity.

One salesperson suggested that the foam will kill the tyre after 50 miles of use. You will need to replace the tyre then! Throwing your tyre away each time you have a puncture?

Car manufacturers who claim this kit is economical or environment friendly should have their head examined.

Consumer and motoring associations! Do they have a view?

Tyre repair kit NO says:
19 October 2012

I am appalled that so many manufacturers are not giving spare wheels.
All the car emergency organisations should be fighting it most strenuously & not saying as it is reported the AA did, that they understand why the manufacturers do this. This most no sense at all.
Not having a spare wheel is very inconvenient, unlikely, I believe, to actually work where the puncture occurs whilst driving & it is going to prove VERY VERY EXPENSIVE.
1. The emergency organisations are already reporting increased call outs due no spare wheel. This is inevitably going to increase costs & therefor their charges to customers.
2. Where tyres could have been repiared they are less likely to be done if the repair kit has been used.
3. When a tyre has to be replaced in most cases we will have to replace 2 tyres instead of just 1 (we shouldn’t have a part worn tyre on the same axle as a new, so with a spare the unused spare can be paired with the new & the part worn used as a spare, this isn’t possible with the kit).
4. There is also the inevitable cost of replacing the kit not just when it’s been used but also when it passes it’s use by date !!

All in all a very bad idea which will cause inconvenience & be very expensive.

I drive a 1992 Ford Sierra. Came with not only a spare wheel …. but a full matching alloy! Trawled e-bay and obtained a further matching alloy. (Unused spare wheel from a scrapyard) got two H rated tyres with full alloys as spares. Who cares that with extra weight it might add 5p to a journey. I could get two flats (have to be fairly unlucky) and still make it home!
Ps still have plenty of room in the boot for a holiday/weeks shopping etc.
There’s always room for a spare on a new car, it just might have to be loose in the boot. And if it doesn’t fit in, then you havent bought a car you’ve bought a handbag!

Keith Newton says:
29 October 2012

This is just another way for the import company of these manufactures to make more money from use if you contact the makes of the cars they will tell you that VAG UK ask the cars to come this way
Same with vauxhalls and ford etc most other European countries insist that cars come with a spare wheel.

keith says:
16 November 2012

manufactures tell use it allow then to produce lower Co2 figures but that is so not true, as Co2 figure are done on a rolling road in clinical conditions where real world condition do not come into the figures.
a spare wheel and all the things that go with it costs money which mean less profit for the car producers. Its all to do with money again

keith says:
16 November 2012

The fiat i bought 6 months ago came with a standard spare alloy wheel it was on the 500 that did not boot very small.

If you’re driving accross Europe, at the very least you need 1 spare wheel. ((Me I have two full alloy spares (not a space saver) with multi direction pattern)) along with clutch cable/hand brake cable enough spare bulbs to light up a tree and fuses not to mention spark plugs and HT leads! But then I’ve got a 280,000 mile Sierra with Mud & Snow Tyres.
I am a car salesman’s living nightmare as I like to ask all the awkward questions. If you want a free spare, get to the point of sales completion then refuse to sign unless they put one in for free. Salesman won’t be happy but they won’t say no as they’ve still made a sale. It will only be their commission that took a hit not their basic. This can also be done with second hand cars! Be prepared to walk away and let them phone you the following day!

Lawrence A. says:
17 November 2012

Totally agree with your “be prepared to walk away” tactic, Jason. Unfortunately I got shouted down previously by other contributors who said they haven’t got time to play silly games and were quite happy to receive a “free” tankful of petrol.
Nothing is free, folks. They build in a barter margin when they set the price. If you don’t ask for extras, they pocket the difference. You lose out.
Skoda have just brought out a new model, the “Rapid.” (Oh dear. Another one from the Skoda book of inappropriate car names.) Slightly smaller than my 8 year old Octavia. I am very tempted to go along and try this approach if only to hammer it home to them that we, the CUSTOMERS, need a spare wheel. (And a jack. And a wheel brace.) It does seem odd that their prent company, VW, are one of the few still offering full size spaes, yet the Yeti does not even feature a wheel well.

Robert says:
19 November 2012

Just found out recently that I have no spare wheel of any type, ordered a space saver tyre and rim from my Toyota dealer, am still waiting for it after 2 weeks in the mean time I am living on my nerves as I drive about 1000miles per week

Heetel64 says:
17 December 2012

The question of gunk versus spare is a no brainer but depends on the type of car. My wife recently bought a 2009 Honda Insight. Equipped with a gunk plus compressor system. I wanted to buy her a spare wheel ( either space saver or normal ) but found that the boot well could not accomodate either as the Eco battery is there, so no go. Solution is to buy a space saver, use the the boot well as an area to put goods and simply place the wheel in the boot.
I drive a Honda CR-V ( year 2000 model ) which has a spare wheel bolted on the back. There is actually a boot well which is big enough to accomodate a full size spare tyre as well, so This car falls into a different yet odd category.
To the person who worries about putting the dirty punctured wheel on passengers, simply take things out of boot, place on passengers and put old wheel in space left.
Fixing the so called nail puncture or hole with a rubber insert is actually very easy if you can find the hole but you will still need a compressor to inflate it again afterwards.
Remember that if gunk system is inadequate to get you going again, then your third party insurance gets you a tow to the nearest garage which won’t help if they cannot repair your tyre on the spot or they are closed. Fully comp insurance gets you a tow to the nearest tyre replacement centre but once again let’s hope they are open at that time of night.
Be sensible and just buy a spare wheel, get a bag to put it in and put it in your boot. Do not think that the things that you have to put in your boot are more important than the spare wheel.

DIY puncture repairs can fail and I believe they were banned in the UK when radial ply tyres were introduced. A museum might be interested in surviving repair kits.

Stoat says:
2 February 2013

I bought a new 2012 Suzuki Swift Sport last year, Suzuki boast a 30kg weight reduction, no wonder, no spare wheel. salesman won me over about the goo,last week I came across a young lady in a sport who had a flat tyre, I could not use the goo because the tyre had a tear in it resulting in her car being towed away.

Brian K Laband says:
3 February 2013

Last week I went to buy a used ( 2012 ) Volvo V50. After following this conversation for a number of weeks the first place I looked was the boot of the car. You’ve guessed it. A can of GUNK. Having told the salesman that I was no longer interested in the car unless it had a spare wheel, jack and wheel brace, he said that he would have one in place ( at no extra cost ) by the time I pick up the car next Tuesday. RESULT !

Lawrence A. says:
3 February 2013

Good man, Brian. Excellent result!
This is what we want to see.
Everyone take note. It CAN be done. You just have to let the salesman know that the spare wheel (and associated tools) is the deal-breaker.

Well done Brian for getting a good deal out of car salesman. It’s a buyers market!

Space savers always raise a smile! They Look so silly on big cars!

Brian K Laband says:
3 February 2013

Space savers may raise a smile. But I’d rather be smiling, than stood at the side of the road with a
‘ flat ‘ and a can of GUNK !

Fair comment Brian! 🙂

Brian K Laband says:
6 February 2013

Picked up the V50 yesterday (Tuesday) as arranged, and the salesman could not wait to show me my brand new spare wheel, jack and wheel brace. He also admitted that he agreed that the GUNK option is ‘A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME’ and only done to SAVE MONEY.

Enjoy your NEW V50 Brian!
My 21 year old Ford Sierra with 2 full alloy spares has just racked up 282,500 miles!