/ Motoring

I want a spare wheel – not a puncture repair kit!

flat tyre

In the past, I’d have said that a tyre puncture would lead to half an hour of sweat and toil changing the wheel, followed by a trip to a tyre centre to have it repaired or replaced. On reflection, I think I was being hopeful…

As it turns out, this couldn’t have been further from the truth when I experienced a puncture in a new car recently.

The car had a puncture repair kit instead of a spare wheel, so I first spent a frustrating 40 minutes trying to decipher the poorly translated instructions and re-inflate my pancake tyre.

My puncture kit kerfuffle

To begin with, the sealant in the kit didn’t seal up the holes at all. So I then waited an hour for a breakdown truck to take the car to a local garage. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t have the correct replacement tyre in stock, so I had to walk home and do without the car until late the following day.

So in total, I had one-and-a-half day’s disruption and a bill of £108 for a wheel. Frustratingly, the recovery truck driver told me his garage probably could’ve fixed my tyre for £10 if I hadn’t filled it with gunk.

Around half of all new cars are now sold without a spare wheel. Buyers are given the option to pay extra for the luxury of a fifth wheel, or to stick with a tyre inflation kit. In a small number of cases, cars are sold with run-flat tyres.

Why take away spare wheels?

So why are more and more car manufacturers selling us cars with tyre inflation kits instead of spare wheels? They say the sealant and pump kits take up less space in the car and reduce the weight, therefore improving fuel efficiency. However, these kits don’t fix all types of punctures – they only work if it’s a small hole in the centre of the tyre tread.

I wonder if some car companies are trying to deter owners from doing work on their own cars. On some cars it’s impossible for anyone other than a trained mechanic to change a light bulb, and now they’ve stopped many owners from being able to change their own wheels.

Have you had any experience using puncture repair kits? Did you find they fixed the problem easily, or would you prefer an old-fashioned spare wheel? We’ve launched a quick survey on spare wheels, and would love to hear you thoughts and opinions.

Brian says:
7 April 2013

am i right in thinking that when the puncture repair kit supplied with your new vehicle is used that tyre is no longer suitable for use and must be replaced ,like the others before me i bought a new car without thinking i would not get a spare with it until i looked into the boot,inevitably i got a puncture within 1 week of buying this new car,on getting the equipment from the boot and reading what has to be done i then ,as instructed connected the hoses then plugged in the compressor only for it to blow the fuse in the car ,so i ended up with the good old footpump then drove to the garage and had the puncture repaired without having to replace the tyre i may add

Keith Denley says:
5 May 2013

What they dont tell you with the can of sticky foam and compressor method is that use it and your tyre is a right-off, – whether or not the puncture is sealed. You cannot use a foam repaired tyre on the car other than for getting you to a new tyre depot. Having arrived there the metal wheel has to go through a special cleaning process before a brand new tyre has to be fitted. It all adds to the cost & delay.
You cannot beat a full size spare and jack kit.Try crossing a desert without a spare!!!
I have refused two new cars which were supplied with a foam kit and compressor; a BMW and a Volvo. Its all crap what they say about saving weight, etc. Foam saves weight at your wallets very heavy expense. Refuse a car without a spare tyre. Keith

Paul Rogers says:
23 May 2013

Looking at all the posts it appears to me, as usual, that car manufacturers know what the public want better than their customers.

Fact is a spare wheel’s weight compared to the gross vehicle weight is probably <1% of the same so the fuel economy/emission argument is rubbish. There is more saving by driving effectively with forward planning and being light on the gas.

What the car manufacturers fail to appreciate with all the stats saying on X% of customers have a puncture every X000 miles is that if it affects you half way across France or Germany on a Sunday is that it's a 100% disaster involving a great deal of inconvenience to the paying public.

They should be honest and state it's simply a money saving exercise and nothing else.

Rogerh says:
23 May 2013

My Partner has had 2 punctures in 3 months the first was a split wall. This made the car out of action for 3 days as it happen on a Sunday evening & no one had a type in stock.
The next puncture was in the snow and the AA would not try and use the foam kit as they said its a waist of time. They Picked the car up and transported it to a garage. Who fixed the tyre. But it took up 3/4 of a day. THIS IS A TOYOTA VERSO S model We have learnt the hard way.

The cheaper version of this car, the TR, comes with a spare wheel (space saver type) as standard. I don’t understand why? It can be bought as an extra withy the version you have, a T Spirit, I assume. I am considering buying one, but the TR version simply because it has a spare wheel of sorts.

Toyota have now removed the space saver spare wheel from the Verso S TR version, at the same time as introducing one as an extra kit, including jack, wheel brace, etc, to the Yaris Trend model for £95. I wonder what “logic” can be applied to this?
I have written to them asking for an explanation, but their response was to refer to the local main dealer. It was because I had discussed this with the dealer that I wrote to their Head Office. We are going round in circles.

Leaf owner says:
28 May 2013

I recently ordered a space saver wheel and tyre for my Nissan Leaf. At the same time I asked how much a replacement can of tyre sealant would cost. Incredibly, it’s not far short of £300 including VAT! The same can of goo for a Nissan Juke (same stuff but a different part number) is a more realistic (but still expensive) £80. The space saver and tyre will cost well under £200 VAT included. Do Nissan take people who buy their cars for fools?

Richard says:
3 June 2013

Buy After Market..

The Roger Green says:
31 May 2013

Iv had no spare Wheel for along time (11yrs), also there are no spare Wheels on a motor bike. so i dont know what all the fuss is about. Iv only had one puncher in that time and doing some 80,000 miles a year in a car and 40,000 on the bike i keep my eyes on the road. Oh by the way i only carry a spare get you home canister. So can we all just grow up and get into the New centry.
Roger Green 67yrs.

Em says:
2 June 2013

I wonder how many buyers of used cars check to see what kind of spare wheel comes with the car? It would never occur to me to do so: I have always assumed that it is a basic piece of equipment. So I hope that Which? will start to advise used car buyers to do so.

It may be that buying secondhand will provide a greater chance of getting a car with a full-size spare wheel. I do not have any sympathy with anyone who buys a car – new or secondhand – and does not find out whether they have a spare until they have a puncture.

Richard says:
3 June 2013

It’s called “L.O.O.K.I.N.G”

Richard says:
3 June 2013

It’s a dumb sales gimmick.
Try using the Glue and Gas when the tyre is shredded.
Space Savers a a little better but where do you put the flat, full sized wheel??

4 June 2013

I recently had a flat tyre on my new vw touareg i used the puncture repair kit supplied as per the instructions what a waste of time and effort .i then called the r.a.c who were very good but he informed me the tyre was scrap he then phoned round to find a tyre to fit eventually he found one he took my wheel came back and refitted the wheel a great service the cost for the tyre was over £312.00. On returning home i called into the dealer from where i bought the car the parts dept informed me vw do not manufacture spare wheels for this model and a matching wheel would cost over £1,100.00 needless to say i was pretty disgusted with his reply and lack of concern its such a shame as it is a fantastic car only let down by the lack of a spare wheel

David James Bond says:
9 June 2013

[There seems to be more than one thread by WHICH on this topic but never mind and will post what I have posted on its other thread] Worse case scenario without a spare tyre? You are at the top of Ben Nevis without a spare wheel and also have no food nor drink. But you have a can of foam that doesn’t repair your puncture and you are left stranded for 24 hours. Never mind worse things happen at sea and also changing a tyre at the side of the motorway.


Get a sense of perspective people for Gawd’s sake.

Roy Wilkinson says:
11 June 2013

Very frustrating to find out that our new car did not have a spare tyre we did not find this out till we took delivery of the car which is my wife’s mobility vehicle. last year a week before Xmas we had gone shopping to our local Sainsbury’s store ten mins away from home only in there 20 mins when we came out the drivers side passenger tyre was completely flat out came the repair kit which failed to do the job as there was a split in the tyre at the top.

After phoning Kwik Fit Mobility for assistance I was told it would be Thursday the day now being Tuesday afternoon 4-15pm I was told to contact RAC Mobility for assistance they said it would be 5-45pm before they could attend, when the van arrived the operator said there was nothing he could do and organised an independent recovery operator to load the vehicle take me home and take the car to our local Kwik Fit garage the next day for repair it was 9-45 pm before recovery arrived 10pm when I got home rang the recovery firm the next day and was told the car was taken to the kwik fit outlet.

After ringing them I was told that it would be the next day before thy could access a replacement tyre, the tyre at just come in the garage at 12pm and I collected the car an hour later.

In all not a very good service for a new vehicle I dread to think what the situation would have been if it happened in the country and there was no mobile signal, needless to say the issue of not having a spare wheel needs to be re-thought by the manufacturers, the car in question is a Nissan Juke

According to the Daily Mirror a poll carried out by the RAC said 90% of drivers want a return to a spare being supplied. 11/06/13

Maneg says:
23 June 2013

Isn’t it about time that Which gathered all the comments together and sent them to all the car manufacturers to show the strength of feelings on this subject?

Ali T says:
2 January 2014

Six months on and the situaion hasn’t improved . I’ve had three punctures in 3 years . In each I was “saved” by having a real spare wheel on my Zafira . Tried a tyre repair spray once . Totally useless .
Trying to buy a new car is proving diffiult ! New Tourer has emergency small spre only ( a manufacturer’s fitted £100 option ! ) Some estates still have real spares … Insignia with 17 inch wheel option , Hyundai i 40 SW …

+ Alloy wheels are also often difficult get off to change

geoff_s says:
30 May 2014

Being Which, I’m surprised not to see mails above about consumer rights on this subject. It seems a corrupt trading practice on several fronts.

Cheat 1) Manufacturers have been forced to reduce their cars CO2 to fight global warming. Instead of doing this through improvements and innovations, they have simply cheated by taking out the weight of the spare wheel & jack. Once they have cynically cheated on the test, they have to cheat their customers as they can no longer sell their cars with spares in them. They reduce their customers’ safety by doing this.

Cheat 2) Cars are then sold on fictitious mpg figures (without the weight of the spare wheel). Customer will always tend to drive out the showroom with the spare wheel put back, so the fuel consumption figure become a lie, even before they leave the showroom.

Cheat 3) The car is taxed on its CO2 emissions. For instance some Fiesta’s pays none, as they just scrape by the CO2 limit. As most customers sensibly insist on a spare for the safety of their families, the tax man also gets cheated and the country does not get the CO2 savings that it is paying for.

Cheat 4) Cheating the customer of a spare wheel; becomes a new profit center for the manufacturer. For instance, Ford happily knocks off 10% from their RRP. They’ll then tack back extras like the essential spare wheel at an undiscounted price. Manufacturers’ profits gets increased, but some customer’s safety gets compromised.

Cheat 5) You only have to look on the internet to see the large number of people who have only discovered they’ve just a pump-up can in their wheel bay, once they breakdown with an unrepairable blown tyre. In other words the manufacturer has cheated these customers. They though they were buying a car, but they drove-off with only 97% of the car they’d expected.

Cheat 6). While some manufacturer’s cheat like this and others don’t. The honest manufacturers get penalized in every published CO2 & mpg figure and their RRP looks comparatively higher by £100-£300.

I’d ask Which to consider lobbying that..
1) That all mpg & CO2 tests should be done with a real-world spare wheel & jack in the car. All fitted spares will then tend to be in light alloy not the current heavy iron ones & the country’s CO2 will be reduced.
2) That UK car prices should include the cost of a spare in their RRP to make a level playing field (if the customers wants to refuse the spare, a reduction could be made)
3) That all customers are personally made aware that they are being sold a car with the spare removed from the spare wheel bay & the increased risks involved have been outlined.

Just had an interesting chat with Toyota online, about the latest Yaris emissions. When they first heard my queries, they asked me to go and ask the local dealer! I explained that I wanted to discuss more than the colours, so they agreed.
My concern is that I have just renewed the road tax for the first time, and found out the emissions are 1g/km over the limit for band “C”, which is only £30/year. The new car, with an identical engine and transmission, is 121g/km, which puts up the annual tax to £110.
After about 30 minutes online, it appears that the only difference is that the newer model has larger wheels and lower profile tyres. This increases the emission by about 3%, and costs more to tax.
I asked if I could change the wheels and tyres to those for the previous model and they said that is was technically OK with them, but that I should discuss this with the DVLA. Over 10 years or so, the saving in road tax would be of the order of £800, which would easily pay for new wheels and tyres, as well as giving a better ride.
I wonder what will be the response of the DLVA? If nothing else, it would disturb their records. And would the insurance be affected?
During the “conversation”, Toyota said initially that every new model had lower emissions than the previous model, which is clearly not the case. I was also surprised that fitting low profile tyres increased fuel consumption; not often appreciated by those wanting a sportier look and harder ride, described by the marketing men as “sportier”.
So some cars are not getting greener. And all in the interests of style. Both cars are SR models. And the new model has no spare wheel, which shows that the reason given for it’s removal, ie. to reduce emissions, is a hoax.

I believe the DVLA will not reduce your road tax. I think all cars are rated on the cars original build emissions.
I have heard of a few cars which are poor performers with low emissions as manufacturer tweak the gear box and ECU to make them low emissions in tests. Then if the user simply changes the ECU chip they have a better car, but the tax bracket remains the same. Even changing the engine totally would not effect the bracket.
I think the other user comment about MPG is un-fair they are always complained about for not being accurate for real driving. But the whole point of them is they are not meant for real driving but a simple scientific test with all variables reduced to a minimum to create a standard test which is a level field for all manufacturers.
Although I agree with the Head of VW who said that the fairest solution would be to remove all taxes and instead increase the tax on fuel. This fair for all as petrol can only create 2.5Kg/L of CO2, Diesel 3.5Kg. Then restrict all other emissions within the MOT. But politically this is impossible.

John Veitch says:
15 October 2014

I had a puncture on the B846 Tummel Bridge to Keltneyburn road at 5.10pm on Friday 10th October.

If the car had had a spare wheel I would have changed it and been on my way within 30 minutes.

As no spare wheel in the car I tried the wheel repair kit which proved useless as it has on the other occasion I used it. (Tyre wall damage) I called the Accident Management Line for Lookers Leasing and got through to the AA who with difficulty I got her to understand where I was. She then said she would phone me back and did and passed me to Skoda Assistance who I then with difficulty got them to understand where I was. They said a patrol would be with me to recover the vehicle by 6.55. At 6.55 the patrol phoned me and asked where I was he had got the wrong directions. He arrived about 7.05. and the car was loaded on to the lorry and off we set on a 95 mile journey to our destination arriving at 10.30. The lorry was from Blair Atholl garage and the driver was efficient, friendly. Very good service.

Saturday morning Skoda Assistance phoned at 8.15am and said patrol on way. AA arrived about 9.00am from Glasgow (30 miles away) and took off tyre. AA man phoned Kwik Fit in Dumbarton (13 miles away) and they said computers down so could not get authorisation and because computer down could not check tyre stock.
AA man decided to go to Kwik Fit depot anyway. Arrived at Kwik Fit and the manager said he could not get authorisation. We suggested he phone Lookers Leasing. He did this and after being on phone a few seconds hung up and said no use their computers were down as well. We agreed to leave the tyre and he would phone us when he had got it repaired.
The AA man suggested we phone Lookers ourselves from his van We spoke to Claire and she knew about Kwik Fit computers not working but that the manager just needed to fill in a pending form and enter on computer later. She phoned the Dumbarton Kwik Fit depot and we heard the phone ringing and then the manager looked out and saw we were still in the yard. Claire said to go back in which we did and the manager found the tyre in stock and got it changed fairly quickly.
AA man took me back to my car and fitted wheel. AA man was excellent. The situation for him was made awkward by the Kwik Fits mans attitude.

Skoda Assistance (Jordan) were good but it is always difficult when they do not know the area and accents and mobile phones do not help in understanding each other.

This operation must have cost hundreds of pounds but thankfully for me was paid by the leasing company. If you add up the cost and time involved in above I think the inclusion of a spare wheel with a vehicle should be standard. We must try to get manufacturers to listen to the customer.

Carole says:
31 October 2014

I ordered a Vauxhall Mokka in June and took delivery this week. One reason I chose this car was because it came with a space saver tyre. When I took delivery I was told that it now comes with the dreaded repair kit although there is the indented space for the wheel. Am pushing to get a spare wheel from them as this was part of the deal when I ordered the car and paid a deposit. If this practice is acceptable they could remove any of the kit you thought you were getting!

sirdef says:
3 February 2015

Failure to carry a serviceable spare
Any additional charges resulting from Your failure to carry a legal and serviceable spare wheel
or tyre, except where this is not provided as manufacturers’ standard equipment. The AA will
endeavour to arrange on your behalf, but will not pay for, assistance from a third party

above is the AA,s terms and conditions

i think i read as saying we will call you a 24hr tyre fitter and pay for it yourself, we cant help..
i speak from experience

Here is what the RAC has to say about the lack of a spare wheel:

“Your RAC Membership will cover you in the event that you need to change a wheel, if you have a working serviceable spare in the vehicle and you have any wheel locking nuts needed to change it and a serviceable key to unlock them. If you don’t have either of these, we may make a surcharge.

If you do not have a spare but have a self-repair puncture repair kit or chemical tyre inflation canister, we will use these first in order to make a temporary repair until we tow you to a nearby garage.

Please note that if you have Roadside Assistance level of cover only, we would be able to tow you to a garage or your chosen destination within 10 miles. If you would need to be towed further, you need to take Recovery add-on. The same rule applies to motorcycles.”

It’s unreasonable to expect the AA and RAC to provide mobile tyre fitting services without pushing up their annual charges.

The answer is to avoid buying a car – new or secondhand – that does not have a spare wheel. If enough of us tell the dealers they might get the message and push the car manufacturers to give us back the spare wheel. If anyone wants tyre sealant that should be an option.

Sylvekitcar says:
18 April 2015

You need to ensure its not a cheap kit or one supplied by the manufacture. I have a great one: