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Research shows that just two car manufacturers offer a full-size spare as standard

Published 29 October 2014

An investigation by has revealed that just two car manufacturers offer a standard spare wheel across their entire model ranges: Alfa Romeo and SsangYong. Between them they attracted just 0.28 per cent of the total UK car market in 2013.

The remainder of the UK’s mainstream car manufacturers are increasingly replacing the spare wheel with a tyre repair kit. Every Volvo, Vauxhall and Dacia on sale comes with a repair kit as standard, for example, and for the vast majority of other makers, more of their models come with a repair kit than with a standard spare wheel.

Car manufacturers claim that the tyre repair kit’s combination of low weight and compactness makes it a logical replacement for the spare wheel. A Kia spokesperson told us that “the tyre repair kit is more convenient for customers where space is a premium. The value [of a tyre repair kit] is the cost and space, which is particularly important for customers in the A- and B-segment.”

Kia offers a spare wheel as standard on all its cars bar the Picanto and Rio, for which a spare tyre can cost from £82 to £186 as an option.

Ian Howat, Head of Product and Pricing at Volvo UK, said: “Tyre repair kits are a space-efficient, convenient and quick, albeit temporary, roadside fix that enable a customer to get to their destination.”

The recently revised Citroen C1 is a case in point on the proliferation of the tyre repair kit, with the outgoing car coming with a spare as standard, while the new version gets a repair kit, forcing any buyer that wants a spare to fork out an additional £70. That said, the new C1’s 196-litre boot is 41 per cent bigger than its predecessor’s.

The RAC responded to 94,000 calls in 2013 from drivers that had suffered a puncture but whose cars had no spare wheel

But many drivers simply don’t like using a repair kit, and would rather have a spare wheel for a relatively quick and simple change in the event of a puncture. The RAC responded to 94,000 calls in 2013 from drivers that had suffered a puncture but whose cars had no spare wheel. As a result, the organisation launched a universal spare wheel for its patrols, designed to get spare-less cars back on the road as quickly as possible.

And thanks to the decline of the standard spare wheel, the RAC believes the number of similar call outs will reach 120,000 by the end of this year, and up to 250,000 in 2015; puncture repair kits are, says the company, ‘only suitable for carrying out temporary repairs on punctures up to 4mm and can be daunting to use at the side of the road.’

The key issue with a puncture is, of course, one of personal safety – getting back on the move and away from danger at the roadside as quickly as possible is imperative. Tim Shallcross, Head of Technical Advice at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said: “On balance, it’s better to have a spare wheel because most drivers know that they can get out and change a wheel quickly, minimising the amount of time they’re in danger at the side of the road, and drive away to have the damaged wheel repaired or replaced.”

However, Mr Shallcross believes that despite the puncture repair kit being “a bit of an inconvenience,” it’s one that’s worth living with, on balance. “For the weight it saves removing the spare tyre,” he said, “all kinds of other safety features can be added in its place, like anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. These systems add weight, but are of a much greater advantage in general car safety terms – when was the last time you had a flat tyre? But look at the number of people that are saved by ESC and ABS.”

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Oscar 1    on 29 October 2014

Two years ago I was starting to look at replacing my RAV4 with the announcement of a new version. I had previously had several with full size spare wheels, but the one I had at the time had a repair kit that had proved to be a total waste of time on one occasion because following its use the tyre had to be replaced.
Photos of the new model on line appeared to show a spare in the boot. However that only applied to foreign models. I tried unsuccessfully to get Toyota to supply a spare but they declined on the basis that there was no provision to secure a spare safely in the boot.
All of this was played out on Toyota's blog, resulting in several potential buyers cancelling their orders and others like myself buying a different make. I went for a Kia Sportage that comes with a full size alloy spare.
Two years down the line Toyota have seen sense and are now supplying their RAV4's with a space saver wheel in the boot.
I certainly wouldn't buy a new car in the future that didn't have a spare wheel.

B Biddiscombe    on 29 October 2014

Is it true that if you use the tyre repair kit you cannot have the tyre repaired? .

michael powell    on 29 October 2014

I'm glad to see the spare tyre go. Since alloy wheels and steel hubs started being used, it's practically impossibly to change a wheel, especially on the heavy cars we have now.

Besides, who wants to be bent over a wheel brace on a dark wet night, especially in rush hour with traffic thundering past. Leave it to the guys with yellow jackets.

GOM Salty    on 30 October 2014

I fully agree that a spare wheel [or spacesaver] is a must have.
Even if you can't manage the wheel change yourself, someone else can [eg AA, RAC, Green Flag etc] and you are quickly back on the road until the punctured tyre is repaired.
As stated, the tyre repair kit has significant limitations on puncture size & location, and it won't repair a blow-out [eg caused by road debris].
If the tyre repair kit can't be used or it doesn't work, vehicle recovery will be expensive, inconvenient, and your journey cannot continue.
In addition to the cost of replacing the tyre repair kit, I understand that if used, some garages will not repair the tyre so it will also need replacing.
As for run flat tyres, can they be repaired?
Progress - I think not!!!!
Thanks, but no thanks, I want a spare wheel.

   on 3 November 2014

Bring back the full size spare tyre ! I have had 3 punctures in 12 years. The last time was a Vauxhall Vectra which has skinny spare. A bit hairy going only 50mph on a pouring evening along the motorway but at least it got me home. However, had to wait a few days for local tyre specialist to order the right one.

20 years ago I had a BMW 325i sport with spare battery in rear right corner and full size spare below the trunk floor. Today, similar sized BMW X1 (based on a 3 Series chassis) has the battery bang in the middle of where I would put my own spare but because the battery is there, I can't.

Forget the excuse that the reduced weight is lessening emissions and saving motorists money. It has to do with cost cutting by manufacturers; not just by not providing a wheel and tyre but they don't now have to crash test a potentially weak spot of the car, i.e. where a spare wheel well would be; they cut down assembly time; they don't have to stock so many wheels and tyre options (some cars you can buy with choice of 3 or 4 sizes of wheels and a dozen different designs) ...... Non provision of a spare saves them millions.

Kitting out a car with run-flat is good for safety because a puncture would still afford the driver some chance to control and steer the car to safety (side of a road). But there is no excuse not to provide a spare wheel well for the motorists who chooses to buy his own wheel and tyre for eventuality. Yes, correct, I am thinking when will I have the next puncture not if. I am unlikely to buy another BMW because of their stupidity. I have the X1 now because I had not factored correctly how much space a spare would take up in the trunk, then you have to incorporate safety measures so that an emergency stop would not render this spare end up being a missile to hit the passengers to cuase injuries.

Guess what I am doing this autumn ? Searching for vehicles which has on-demand 4 wheel drive which some manufacturers call crossovers and searching for vehicles which has a spare wheel well, even if only for skinny spare. Searching for cars which are compatible with use of run-flats. The last time I ordered run-flats, UK had no stocks of the tyre I wanted so had to purchase from Germany. From order to delivery took over a week. Maybe, just maybe a next punctured run-flat plus 50 miles running on a skinny tyre would last long enough for the next (emergency) tyre purchase from Germany but doubtful ! The next manufacturer provides what I want gets the business; they can forget all the mpg in their sales brochures, just put "This Car Carries a Full Size Spare" on the front page.

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