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Save money and shop around for a spare, says top IAM advisor

Published 29 October 2014

A top advisor from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has recommended that drivers avoid paying over the odds for a spare tyre by getting one online, instead of from the car company’s options list.

Tim Shallcross, the IAM’s Head of Technical Advice, says that if a driver would prefer a spare wheel to their car’s standard tyre repair kit, they should “go to a well-known auction website and buy one from there.”

The advice follows an investigation by which has found that car manufacturers are increasingly making tyre repair kits standard, then charging buyers extra for a spare wheel. “Make sure it’s in good condition. From a safety point of view that’s very important, but [buying online] will be more cost-effective than a manufacturer option,” continued Mr Shallcross. 

The spare wheel was ubiquitously standard fit until recently, but is now increasingly removed and replaced by a tyre repair kit, as manufacturers seek to keep weight down and improve fuel efficiency.

But tyre repair kits only work for certain punctures – anything over 4mm or on the sidewall can’t be repaired, for example – and in any event, many drivers find them either confusing to use, or as our own Honest John found recently, non-functional.

For those reasons, many drivers prefer a spare tyre, yet with car companies charging up to £600 for a spare wheel, the cost can be off-putting. Mr Shallcross said: “From a safety point of view, the more time you spend at the side of the road, the more dangerous it is, especially at the side of a motorway where there’s fast-moving traffic.

“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.”

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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.

pipey    on 30 October 2014

You are absolutely spot on , my Peugeot 3008 has 18inch rims and I dread having a puncture on long hauls down to my place in southern France , previous punctures with 18inch tyres has resulted in a new tyre and never repairable , I have tried to obtain a space saver but Peugeot can only supply 16 or 17 inch rims , this is the last time I buy a car without a spare

Ken Fletcher    on 21 November 2017

I suggested that I could have a spare Tyre only,which could be fitted by rescue services (AA-RAC etc),to save carrying the full wheel.But NONE of them was willing to do that. No credible reason was given.
Ken F.

   4 days ago

I bought a new focus in 2016 it had the horrible repair kit in the boot.I eventually bought a full size spare exactly the same size and design as already fitted to the car.It cost me £80 on eBay and a new tyre for £100 total cost £180....a bargain well pleased.

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