If you get a puncture that’s beyond repair in a car that lacks a spare wheel, there’s a good chance you’ll have to be towed to a garage by a breakdown provider. Not anymore.
If you bought a new car in 2013, there’s a one in two chance you’ll have a puncture repair kit in the boot of your car instead of a spare wheel, according to our research. But what happens if the tyre is damaged beyond repair?
You’ll have to call a breakdown service provider for assistance. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll have the correct tyre size aboard their patrol vehicle, so there’s a very good chance you’ll be towed to a local garage to have a new tyre fitted so you can continue your journey. Not the most time efficient remedy for something as small as a puncture.
However, a new product is now being used by some breakdown patrols which could be the answer to the problem.
AA and RAC carry a universal spare wheel
The AA and RAC, who collectively attend almost five million breakdowns on UK roads a year, now carry a new universal spare wheel.
This 17 inch wheel fits the majority of cars that have a five-stud wheel fitting. It cleverly allows the technician to change the positioning and diameter of where the wheel nuts and bolts attach to match the fitment on the wheel hub.
Once the universal spare wheel is fitted, you can continue on your journey. Then when you reach a garage to have a new tyre fitted to the wheel with the puncture, you leave the universal spare wheel at the garage and notify the breakdown provider so they can pick it back up.
Should your car have a spare wheel?
The universal spare wheel seems to offer the best of both worlds – you can benefit from the fuel-cost-saving effect of carrying a lightweight repair kit, but also have a spare wheel fitted by a breakdown service technician to all you to continue your journey.
However, is this a problem you should have to experience in the first place? I mean, you could be waiting around for quite some time before your breakdown provider arrives. Our latest survey of car breakdown services found that 55% of people had to wait between 31 minutes and an hour for assistance to arrive. A further 18% of stricken motorists had to wait for over an hour.
If your car just came with a spare wheel in the first place, you wouldn’t have to phone for breakdown assistance at all. While there are some running cost implications of carrying a spare or space-saver wheel, or extra charges from some manufacturers to include them, are you willing to live with the impracticalities of not having one? If not, then it’s worth paying a little extra for a spare wheel when buying a new car.
For those with a puncture repair kit, I think the universal spare wheel is a welcome addition to breakdown patrol vans across the country that will get many motorists out of a tight spot.