/ Motoring

Car spare wheels: why they’re a dying breed

Almost 23,500 of AA’s callouts each year relate to its members using tyre repair kits, with most phoning because they’re not confident using them. That’s why we want spare wheels to at least be a no-cost option on cars.

My last Conversation about spare wheels resonated with many of you. More than 400 comments were made, and the vast majority were fighting the corner of the spare wheel. So I think now is a good time for an update.

We’ve now launched a Spare wheels survey so you can let us know about your experiences and opinions on the matter.

And since the previous Convo was published in April, we’ve been in talks with the AA and carmakers about puncture repair kits and (the lack of) spare wheels.

What the AA says

When we approached the AA to talk about how their members deal with tyre repair kits and spare wheels, it told us:

‘In most cases, the member is not happy about using the sealant and would rather ask a patrol for help. When the patrol arrives, the driver has not even attempted to use it, as most expect there to be a spare in the boot.

‘We understand why some manufacturers don’t supply spare wheels as standard, but it can make things quite difficult for drivers and our patrols. We can get members back on the road much faster if the car has a suitable spare.’

What car manufacturers say

Of the mainstream car brands available in the UK, just Hyundai, Mercedes, Ssangyong, Toyota and VW offer spare wheels in 90% or more of their entire current model range. At the opposite end of the spectrum, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Mini, Skoda and Subaru all don’t offer a spare at all, instead opting for a puncture repair kit.

Here are just a few responses we got from manufacturers when we questioned them about these numbers:

BMW: ‘Most BMWs now come with run-flat tyres as standard. This, in theory, makes the spare wheel redundant as the ‘flat’ tyre can be driven on safely until it can be changed.’

Skoda: ‘We use this puncture repair kit in our overall strive for environmentally friendly car operation to decrease weight and improve efficiency.’

VW: ‘Our customers expect a Volkswagen to have a spare wheel, not a repair kit. It also helps to keep consumers happier in the event of a puncture if they have a spare wheel.’

Check for a spare wheel before you buy

Many of you asked if we could give information about whether a model is available with a spare wheel in our reviews. Well, we already do.

If you’re a Which? member, once you’re in a car review, click on the ‘Model finder’ tab, select the spec you’re looking for and scroll down to the section on ‘Standard equipment’. When you select ‘Wheels’ this will tell you if the car comes with a spare wheel as standard or not.

And if you’re buying used, make sure you check under the boot floor or the underside of the car for a spare wheel. If there is one, make sure there’s plenty of tread on the tyre and all the equipment to change the wheel over – including the jack – is present.

We think spare wheels should come as standard (and for free), or at least as a no-cost option. What do you expect carmakers to offer when it comes to a remedy for a punctured tyre?

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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Comments
Guest
Brenda's Lad says:
31 December 2012

I have a new Skoda Superb on order. It has no spare wheel, but does have space for a full-size spare. My supplying-dealer has confirmed that the spare in my current Octavia will fit the studs on the Superb and that I can keep it for that purpose – so problem solved !

Guest
Lawrence A. says:
2 January 2013

Brenda’s Lad…
Don’t forget – If the dealer is not supplying the spare wheel, then he has no obligation to supply the jack or wheel brace.
If you are trading the Octavia in, you need to keep the wheel-changing tools as well, else you will be up a well known creek without a paddle. Or a jack. Or a spanner. Check that the jack is rated for the bigger car.

Sneaky, ain’t they?

Guest

In addition to the need to check that the jack will bear the weight of the new car it is important to check that the design is suitable for the jacking points.

Guest
DavidD says:
2 January 2013

BMW – silly talk! Who really wants to run on a “run-flat” tyre until it is convenient to repair it?
SKODA – plain silly talk. How many mpg will the absence of a spare wheel add, and at the cost of the reassurance of a PROPER spare wheel. We have had a Skoda Fabia for six years and a great little car it is, but good bye Skoda if you want to save a few bucks by not providing what the vast majority of us think is a NECESSITY. Come on you dealers you are in a good position to put pressure on all these manufacturers!

Guest
Edward carvalho says:
9 April 2018

I also haf a fabia monty and no spare wheel if I don’t get a skoda with a spare next edition time I will not by one put a spare in the boot

Guest
PaulA says:
2 January 2013

Just taken delivery of a new Skoda CitiGo (adding to our Skoda family – we already have a Yeti). Paid £50 for spare wheel which sits neatly inside the boot below the boot floor so takes up no extra room at all. No such luck with our Yeti though – £250 for a spare and new floor, taking about eight inches of the base of the boot, but having had two punctures (only one repairable) we did not have much of a choice. Am hoping that Skoda redesign the boot to take (and to provide) a full sized spare in the Yeti for when we replace in a couple of years time.

Guest

I assume that the width of modern tyres is the main reason why manufacturers provide space-saver wheels or no spare at all. I cannot see this changing unless fuel economy becomes more important in marketing cars.

Guest
johannes says:
9 January 2013

Far be it for me to defend the car industry BUt I drive a merc -i think it has a get u home tyre like my old calibra and saab sport BUT we all want a good deal on a car when we buy and good tyres as recommended by the manufacturers cost a lot – c. £150 plus the petrol/diesel cost of lugging them around. I assume these blow up kits are idiot proof so what’s the problem? – wouldn’t worry me if i drive a car that needs one. seems silly for 5 billion vehicles to be driving around the planet with tyres that usually get pulped when the car dies.