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.