Spare Tires Sacrificed for Fuel Standards

Nearly one-third of 2017 model year vehicles are missing the important safety feature

BOISE – (October 18, 2017) – When 2017 model year vehicle owners reach for the spare tire after a roadside mishap, many will be searching in vain, according to AAA’s new study.

Efforts to reduce weight and improve fuel economy have prompted some automakers to eliminate spare tires from new vehicles. AAA says nearly one-third – 28 percent – of new vehicles do not come with a spare tire as standard equipment.  That means some drivers will face unnecessary time and expense to resolve an otherwise simple repair and safety issue.

“AAA responds to more than five million calls for flat-tire service each year. In 2016, a missing spare tire was the main culprit on 450,000 occasions,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “While we’re happy to offer towing services to our members as the need arises, our preference would be to replace the flat tire at the roadside and restore mobility as quickly as possible.”

Some automakers have replaced the spare tire with an inflator kit, but AAA warns motorists that these kits aren’t a good substitute for spare tires. Findings from a 2015 study show that tire-inflator kits can temporarily seal small punctures, but are often incapable of dealing with larger leaks, sidewall damage, or blowouts.  In addition, inflator kits can cost up to ten times more than a tire repair, and many have a shelf life of only four to eight years.

“We understand the desire to improve fuel economy, but safety must remain our top concern,” Conde said. “It’s true that the elimination of a spare tire and its associated tools can remove 30 pounds or more of vehicle weight, but a dark and stormy night in the middle of nowhere is not a good time to test the merits of an inflator kit.”

 

AAA encourages motorists to check their trunk for a spare tire before trouble strikes. To avoid being stranded:

  • Don’t assume there’s a spare. Make sure you have one, and that it’s in good condition. If you’re buying a new car, ask for a complete list of all safety features, including the spare tire. If the vehicle you’ve selected doesn’t come with a spare tire as standard equipment, ask about purchasing a spare.
  • Inspect all five tires for wear and proper air pressure.
  • Read the owner’s manual to understand how your tire-inflator kit works if you don’t have a spare, and check the expiration date.
  • Consider roadside assistance coverage for additional peace of mind.

 

For a complete list of the 2017 model year vehicles with and without spare tires, go to NewsRoom.AAA.com.

According to a previous AAA survey, nearly 20 percent (39 million) of U.S. drivers don’t know how to change a flat tire.

“There are many online resources, including helpful videos, that can take the mystery out of changing a flat tire,” Conde said. “Even if you’re mechanically inclined, it’s always a good idea to establish a relationship with a trusted repair shop so that when you’re ready to hit the road, your vehicle has a clean bill of health.”

AAA’s Approved Auto Repair network includes nearly 7,000 repair facilities that meet AAA’s high standards for service, expertise, cleanliness, and customer satisfaction. To locate an AAR facility near you, go to AAA.com/AutoRepair.