/ 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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Lawrence A. says:
10 February 2013

A work colleague of mine recently had a blowout on the M1 near the junction with the M25. The police had to stop all three lanes of a very busy motorway while the car was moved to the hard shoulder from the central reservation. Then the RAC transported his car back home instead of him continuing to Cardiff to visit his dad in hospital.
Guess what? BMW with run-flats as supplied. According to the manufacturer you don’t need any other backup.
He’s not the sort to run badly maintained tyres. My guess is that that he ran over a shard of metal or something.
Guess who’s going to be buying to be buying a spare, a jack, and a wheel brace very soon.

Even a space saver would have helped him limp on to a garage to get a replacement.
Must have been a big shard to do that much damage to a run flat! They’re certainly not meant to blow out! And on that stretch of the M1 no chance of excess speed having caused it either as it’s often a car park!
Take tyre back and claim it was faulty! They’ll have a hard job proving otherwise.
Can get a reasonable scissor jack on e-bay for £13!!


On modern cars, a jack needs to suit the jacking point on a vehicle to avoid slipping and damage to the vehicle. Crawling under a car to find somewhere suitable to jack it with an ordinary scissor jack could have unpleasant consequences.

keith says:
15 April 2013

I have just double checked my car it a a nut for the wheel locking but guess what there is tool to take the wheel nuts off , I want to take my car to Spain this year and guess what’s law there yes that’s right by law in a European country Spainyou have to have a correct spare wheel with the correct tool to be able to change the wheel at the roadside come on UK catch up every car supplied in Europe should meet the rules of every country in the European union . Its now going to cost me £193 to get the correct wheel and tools and the thing that hold all in place in the wheel well come on Skoda I remember when you use to get a full tool kit with cars . We are going backwards.

Taff87 says:
28 May 2013

I enquired from Volvo to buy a space saver wheel and tools and I was quoted a price.
I saw one on E.bay which was sold as new at a fraction of the price which I bought.
Can you imagine my surprise and disappointment when having received the tyre I
discovered Volvo had designed the well where normally you would put the wheel.
was now accommodating part of the fuel tank which prevented the wheel being stowed.
So I advise anyone thinking of buying a D5 S60 Volvo to check the well.

Volvobilist says:
31 May 2013

I too found that the spare wheel my current model S60 Volvo dealer recently offered wouldn’t sit in the car’s useless well but would have completely filled the boot. The car is provided with an inflatable canister, an irrelevant locking wheel nut,and nothing else but a warning sign. I have often changed punctured wheels in the past and had hoped to cover considerable distances in this car, but this omission is not the level of care and reliability I have come to expect from Volvo

F. Wright says:
31 May 2013

I was dismayed to find that the 2nd hand Hyundai i10 model I acquired did not come with a fulkl size spare wheel. I regularly drive 200 miles often in quite non populated areas. Its not easy to find a garage that is open 24hr. Fortunately, a friend managed to source one on EBay and was able to manufacture a bolt to screw it into the space saver void.

bob says:
8 June 2013

keith wrote:

>I want to take my car to Spain this year and guess what’s law there
>yes that’s right by law in a European country Spain
>you have to have a correct spare wheel

If you buy a BMW in Spain, it comes with with run-flats and no spare.

How true. Exactly the same situation with my 2012 BMW X3
This is my first and last BMW. Idiotic design from a firm who believe they know better than their customers. Shocking attitude.

Martin Radcliffe says:
13 September 2013

My son has a BMW 1 series convertible. It has engine stop/start technology, and to support this there is a great big battery in the spare wheel well, thus making it impossible for him to put a spare wheel in the wheel well. (It also means BMW can’t make some extra money by selling such car owners a spare wheel – BMW shareholders take note 🙂

Wavechange.. A 21 year old Sierra is ‘almost’ modern 🙂

Eccles says:
25 February 2013

Extract from Honest John road test of new Toyota RAV-4

“Toyota uses social networking to finalise the UK specifications of its cars. It released provisional specs two months ago and as a result will be offering an important change from July onwards.

The RAV-4 now has a lift-up tailgate rather than a hinged door, so there is no question of hanging a full sized spare wheel on the back. That meant all UK RAV-4s were originally specced to come with a tyre repair kit. However, there is room under the load area floor for a space saver spare (maybe even a full-size spare) and the Facebook and Twitter reaction has been such that Toyota will now offer a space-saver as a free-of-charge option from July.”

Something to be learned from this, I feel.

Hear, hear. The new Toyota Verso S is sold in 2 versions; the cheaper one has a space-saver spare, but the top of the range model, with the panaoramic roof, has nothing except the tube of goo and a space where the wheel should be. The space under the boot floor cover is empty A space saver can be supplied as an extra, with a cost.
I am considering buying one of these cars, but would not consider the upmarket version for this simple reason. (I have one of the old Yaris Verso cars, 2000 model, with 70,000 miles on the clock, and would buy another one of these if I could.)

I have just left a Toyota dealer in Guildford to enquire about this issue. And guess what? They could not answer my questions, and were not familiar with the products they sell.
I asked for the cost of supplying a spare wheel for the Verso S Spirit model, that comes as standard on the TR version. The first answer I got was that neither of them came with a spare wheel. So I read to them their brochure, so they then sent me round to the Parts Dept. for a price. They could not provide one, but did show me a letter received today from Toyota giving the details and content of a spare wheel kit for the new Yaris Trend, which is supplied with the usual goo etc. The kit consists of the wheel and skinny tire, together with a jack, wheel brace, and other fittings, for £95, which is not expensive for what is included.
Perhaps this is a model for the future. I have ordered a new Yaris which, according to the current brochure, comes with a skinny spare wheel. I am, however, expecting that by the time I receive it in about 6 to 8 weeks time, the skinny spare will have been removed and I will have to pay extra for one.
The first answer I got was the price of a skinny spare on it’s own, and told just to throw it in the boot!!!

Martin Radcliffe says:
4 June 2013

I looked at buying one of the new Auris’s but it didn’t have a spare/spacesaver. I was told Toyota be making it an option in a few months (that I’d have to pay for). I though “sod it” and went off and bought a Kia Cee’d which comes with a space saver. The Kia salesman told me thay were picking up a lot of sales on the basis of the space saver, versus competitors offering sealants.

Frederick Ellis says:
11 April 2013

Driving a car without a spare wheel and tyre, is rather like driving a car with no insurance….. it`s stupid. They are also similar in the fact that you may hardly ever need them….but they`re there if you do. The rediculous claim about weight /carbon footprint/etc etc is all a load of rot……it`s got more to do with profitability and cost cutting.
If we all refused to buy a car with no spare…(a proper spare, like the other wheels and tyres)….the manufacturers would have to fit them. My next car will have to have a spare, like the one I`ll trade in has…..or I will not buy it…..

Well said Frederick!

Lawrence A. says:
13 April 2013

I second that “Well said, Frederick!”
In a car dealership they don’t want you to walk away without a sale. Meet their hard-sell with an equally hard-buy.

Len says:
13 April 2013

I currently drive a BMW with a spare wheel which I insisted on when purchasing it. It came with a space saver in a well deep enough for a full size wheel so what space was it saving? If, in future, there’s no spare wheel, I’ll either insist one’s provided or there’ll be no sale. I will never drive without one.

Frederick Ellis says:
15 April 2013

The next dirty move on the manufacturers part, will be to eliminate the jacking points thus rendering the whole idea of having a spare and tools useless…..or maybe, like the colours,….. charge an exorbitant price the put them in…….how long will it be before the steering wheel is an extra.

garth says:
23 May 2013

I think a spare, preferably full size should be standard,.Ihit a kerb on a dark wet night and the rim was badly bent and there was no way that any gung could have done. I had a small spare, chnged by the RAC. A local garage hammered my wheel into shape and the only cost was a new tyre

KENNO says:
27 May 2013

Who would be stupid enough to buy a car without a full spare wheel,a tin of puff is as useful as toothache.Manufactors do not supply to save money .Avoid these makes

Do you know if any of the main manufacturers supply full size spare wheels for all its models? It would be great if one of them committed itself to doing this or at least providing this option.

Taff87 says:
28 May 2013

When did the law change from failing your M.O.T if you had an unsatisfactory tyre on your spare wheel to not having a spare wheel?.

Alan McGarvey says:
30 May 2013

Puncture repair kits only work if the damage is on the tread area of the tyre. They are not usable for side wall repairs.

Indeed, but tyres cannot be repaired safely if the puncture is in the side-wall. That’s another reason why we need spare wheels.

keith says:
15 April 2014

Yes I do know now my £28000 Skoda superb got a side wall puncture a mile from home.no problem went to the boot which has a full size wheel well to find it filled with polystyrene a bottle o white stuff and a pump nothing else non wheel brace no jack and no spare wheel, as I cannot walk very far that was it. So we followed the instruction on the puncher pack
First take the valve out with tool provided empty content of bottle into Tyre the put you valve provided back into valve housing .
Next drive the car for one revolution to get the repair agent around the Tyre now connect electric pump and turn on
What happened next way a beautiful fountain of white stuff appeared outbofbthe side of the Tyre covering the road in guess what the white stuff was pva glue.

No good so I called the RAC out who where very good first he tried to use a side wall repair kit the looked like big screws with purple gel .that did not work so he took his vans space saver and put it on my car and we drove home. He put my wheel back on and as it was a Sunday he said I will be back tomorrow a 8 am .
So Monday 8 am knock on the door RAC man had come back he collected my Tyre and wheel and he took it to kwik fit who he had phoned to make sure they had the Tyre in stock.
He took it and had the Tyre replace. But that took hours to sort out. If I had a spare wheel it could have been done a lot quicker. But thank you RAC great work.
A big thumbs down for Skoda its very poor show on there part.

michael says:
30 May 2013

I drive a mobility car due to having cancer in both legs and bad hips, I had a puncture on a Saturday evening at 5.30 pm I called out R.A.C who told me to leave the vehicle and go up a slope and wait their patrol who attended in an hour. they could not get a tyre that day. my vehicle would have to be recovered I waited another hour still stuck on the slope.at 9.00 pm I was recovered my point is if I had a spare wheel I could have got home .I can not understand why cars don’t have a spare wheel especially mobility cars it took me 2 days to recover and a visit to my doctor. Looking at the argument over cost of the wheel I didn’t notice any mention of prices going down. It is time that manufacturers listen to the people that buy their cars.

keith says:
13 April 2014

It one time you could not get a motability car unless a spare was provided my be motability should put this back in there contract with motor manufacturers a space saver cost no more than £10 to the manufacturer.
Manufacturer says the extra weight puts the CO2 up which means higher road tax. So offer it as a non cost option.

Martin says:
31 May 2013

I refuse to buy a car without some sort of spare. The ‘squirty cream’ option is not suitable for most punctures, and relies on the fact that you are able to get to a repair centre or them to you in a short distance, bit of a problem a night, or when there is a lot of snow around. I had a puncture earlier this year, was able to change the tyre and go to the repair centre at my leisure. I was thanked by the guys there as they did not have to clean out the rim. I had to buy the spare as an extra, but atleast I was able to do so. The Eco story reason is pure hype looking at the gear carried in the back of many cars.

Adrian says:
31 May 2013

Its shear madness that cars are sold without full size spare wheels. I have had 2 punctures in the last 3 years and its simple, change the wheel, takes no more than 10 minutes to do. Its a full size spare and a matching alloy, so no need for the 50 mph restriction. Drop the punctured wheel off at the the local tyre depot and providing its not in the wall that is damaged, its mended for £18.00,one hour later collect it, job done. People who say they would rather have the space and less weight …….Well wait till you have a puncture in the middle of no where or even in a city late at night. Me, I will always have a decent spare, a space saver at a push. I have proved its right and as far as I can see the manufactures are just trying it on.

Totally Agree. Mind you I’ve got two full size alloys in the boot. I run on H rated Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons. As these are directional I’ve got 2 cheaper (Trayal) H rated multi-directional spares. So still have a spare whilst waiting for a new Goodyear to arrive from Germany.
There’s plenty of room in the boot of a Sierra!

Lawrence A. says:
8 June 2013

As there’s plenty of room in the boot of a Sierra (or most medium to large cars for that matter), what’s the point of space-savers?
Who came up with that ridiculous idea in the first place?
Everyone here who carries an independantly sourced spare (like Jason) goes for the full size wheel.

peter hudson says:
1 June 2013

BMW with runflats. Had to buy gunge kit -none provided. Puncture in France. Car transported to BMW dealer. Took 3 days to get new tyre -cost €400. Had been told may have to buy 2 tyres if no matching brand of tyre available. Took tyre to local tyre fitter -repaired for €10!!!

Mart says:
2 June 2013

I would only ever travel with a full size spare wheel. I recently acquired a new car with a “space saver” but paid extra for a proper wheel and made a false boot floor to house it. This was expensive, since the only wheel available was an alloy. With space-saver spares, a limit of 50mph means major harassment by “tailgaters” . Therefore, for safety reasons, there is no alternative to a full-size spare although a steel wheel option would be cheaper.

I don’t remember having a problem with tailgaters when I was driving a lopsided car with a skinny space-saver wheel. I keep well back when driving behind one, and also if I notice that the car in front has an under-inflated tyre.

Totally Agree. Mind you I’ve got two full size alloys in the boot. I run on H rated Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons. As these are directional I’ve got 2 cheaper (Trayal) H rated multi-directional spares. So still have a spare whilst waiting for a new Goodyear to arrive from Germany.
There’s plenty of room in the boot of a Sierra!

Jack says:
2 June 2013

My last car a BMW 1 series had no spare wheel so had to buy one and a jack off eBay as I travel at night in the UK and Europe and in fact had a puncture when I clipped a corner and if I had only a foam can I would have been stuffed. I got rid of it as with its small boot a tyre and jack filled up most. Have another car but it has a spare wheel, its not full size but way better than a can of foam. One can go for years without a puncture but when you get one in the middle of nowhere at night you want a spare tyre without doubt

David James Bond says:
2 June 2013

We all know that a can of foam might get you out of trouble but a spare wheel will definitely get you out of trouble after a puncture (provided that we have a jack and wheel brace). Nevertheless we are being urged not to buy a new car on this website by others if it doesn’t have a spare wheel. But how many of you have bought a new car in the last three years? Me? I have bought two new cars in the last ten months and a car manufacture will take more notice of my opinion than those that haven’t. Another point to consider. Most new cars are bought by companies who don’t care if a spare wheel is provided or not as long as they get the car at a discount.

Martin Radcliffe says:
4 June 2013

If I was a salesmanager I wouldn’t be happy buying a fleet of cars for my salesforce that didn’t have spare wheels. I wouldn’t like to think that a big sale was missed because a salesman had a blow out and missed a sales meeting because the sealant didn’t work and it took 3 hours to get back on the road, by which time the customer had left for the night.

It’s all about peace of mind. Imagine going to an airport and missing your flight because you had a blow out and didn’t have a spare that could be fitted?

coken says:
5 June 2013

Who would drive a car wihout a proper spare wheel ,nobody who drives to make a living .Only a fool would be happy with a tin of puff.Manufactors only do it to save money putting drivers and their families at potential risk.

As a disabled driver I was shocked when I ordered my car through motability, that cars for disabled drivers could come without a spare when I asked the salesman at the dealer, he agreed that in certain situations this could be a very stressful situation if you don’t have a spare, it cost an extra £100 for a space saver wheel. Bring back full size spare wheels for all cars